XIII. How Others Saw Us

How the world saw Portland was shaped in large measure by the pictorial press, a popular new medium in the 1850s. While earlier publications provided few timely illustrations, these magazines featured illustrations as a means of weekly communication with a mass audience. The Illustrated London News was the first of this type in 1842, followed in quick succession by Gleason’s in Boston in 1851 (later Ballou’s Pictorial); then Frank Leslie’s in 1854; and, Harper’s Weekly in New York in 1857. Wood engravings, carved on the end grain for greater detail, were converted to metal through the new electrotype process. As a result, pictures could be printed rapidly alongside text on fast rotary presses, which was not possible with earlier reproduction methods. These technical advancements encouraged more topical and timely content, with illustration of current events available in as little as eight to ten days, a significant improvement over earlier methods.