Meet Mayor Harry Lane, Portland's Funmaker (and Organizer of the First Rose Festival)

A proto-Obama? On the centennial of his death, we hit some of Lane's high points.

By Elise Herron May 15, 2017 Published in the June 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

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Harry Lane

Portland actor Dave Rianda has impersonated Mayor Harry Lane in every Rose Festival Parade since 2007. At the centennial of Lane’s death, he hits some Harry high points:

Flower Power

Hoping to boost tourism, Lane donated $100—equivalent to more than $2,500 today—to organize the first Rose Festival in 1907.

Permit Enforcer

At one point, Mayor Lane personally took a hammer to shoddy sidewalks, smashing holes wherever he found hollow paving. “He was an impetuous, wild guy,” Rianda says. “He didn’t trust wealthy contractors.” He also once led sledgehammer-armed cops to destroy an illegal aqueduct.


One of six senators to oppose America’s entry into World War I, Lane—gravely ill by 1917—was said to wipe blood from his lips during fierce policy debates.


In four years as mayor, the Democrat proposed all sorts of projects: park systems, bridges, public docks, water pipelines, hydrants, a subway. Unfortunately, Rianda says, “The Republican city council rejected most of his resolutions.” 

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