Oaks Amusement Park: Set For a Film and Setting For Exhibition

Oaks Amusement Park, located on the Willamette River and near the present-day Sellwood Bridge, opened its gates for the first time on June 1st of 1905. The amusement park was a huge family place of amusement for their rides, live music, roller arena, picnicking and many other activities. The Oregon Water Power and Railway Company built the park in the beginning stages of the 1900s to increase the number of riders on the streetcar during the evenings and weekends due to Oaks Park being located extremely close to the streetcar line. Per the Oregon Historical Society, Oaks Park hosted around 300,000 visitors annually, making this one of Portland’s most visited attractions.

Picnicking, one of the popular activities at Oaks Park, was an aspect that many visitors of the park enjoyed most. Sitting next to the scenic Willamette River while enjoying a picnic, visitors were able to enjoy the parks many shows which included: fireworks, trapeze acts and most importantly movies. Due to heavy amounts of rain in Oregon, there was also a large auditorium which allowed thousands of visitors to enjoy shows hosted by Oaks Park.

Part 1 of advertisement
The Sunday Oregonian, June 2, 1918, p. 21, Historic Oregon Newspapers. (Part 1)
Part 2 of advertisement
The Sunday Oregonian, June 2, 1918, p. 21, Historic Oregon Newspapers. (Part 2)

The above images show an advertisement from an issue of the The Sunday Oregonian on June 2nd of 1918. In this advertisement it addresses that an operator from Pathé Films Corporation will come to Oaks Park on the coming Saturday, June 8th, to film picnickers at the Oaks Park location. The Pathé Films Corporation is a French business which began in 1896 and started to take off in the early 1900s. In the advertisement it states, “There should be some unusual scenes and incidents pictured, for nothing is more amusing than picnic crowds kodaked unawares.” Furthermore, in the advertisement it states that the parts filmed during Saturday June 8th will be shown the following Wednesday in the Oaks Park auditorium. This advertisement not only shows an unusual nontheatrical venue for a movie showing, but it also shows Oaks Amusement Park as a set for a film. Along with the advertisement promoting the park to be filmed as well as the showing, the advertisement also includes the promotion of a vaudeville act that will occur the day of the articles posting; it is addressed that a Charlie Chaplin comedy will be shown which is accompanied by a band and a solo by a singer.

Oaks Amusement Park, as shown from the advertisement, was not any ordinary amusement park. This historic Oregon site was the host for Portland locals and outside visitors to enjoy many different types of entertainment making it one of the most obscure venues for films in the Portland area.