NE. 13th and Sandy Blvd., 1977

This view of Sandy no longer exists as it is no longer a road but a strange plaza of bioswales and ill-considered landscaping. Sandy was extended from it’s terminus at 16th and Davis to 14th and Couch in about 1922 to facilitate connection with the Burnside Bridge. This was THE way to get from central city to the Columbia River Highway, which of course was the main road east.

This was also Portland’s original auto-row. From 13th to 40th all-manner of dealerships, shops, and gas stations lined the road. The Fred Meyer in Hollywood on Sandy and 41st was quite unique to the region in that it was the first example of a super market designed to cater to shoppers arriving by car.

Though dating to a different decade, this footage of Sandy near 33rd in 1939 is fascinating. You really get the sense people of how driving culture has changed. No texting or voice-activated heated seats. That and they died in massive numbers compared to today.

 

 

Downtown Portland, June 1982

Some random pics around downtown Portland during Rose Festival in 1982, featuring a pile of Meier & Frank garbage.

 

Rose Quarter Waterfront, 1977

The grain elevator pictured here is owned by the Louis-Dreyfus Commodities Co. (Yes, the same Louis-Dreyfus family of Julia Louis-Dreyfus fame!) The elevator abuts an area that the city had hoped would be developed into an entertainment district revolving around Rose Garden and a revamped Memorial Coliseum. City and civic leaders have privately suggested the facility was an impediment to the Rose Quarter’s success. In reality, the Rose Quarter is dead due to its own horrible design. Talk of moving the facility has persisted for at least 24 years. And heated up again in the mid 1990s when the Rose Garden was built. Blazers owner Paul Allen reportedly offered $5M for the waterfront property in 2001, though apparently LDC sought $21M to vacate the site. $12M was invested in expansion and modernization in 2012.

The elevator went by the name “Globe dock” for many years until being sold to Cargill but returned to former name in 1957 when LDC picked it up. Named after its original owner, Globe Mills, the facility was built in 1912 and was nearly destroyed by spontaneous explosion of wheat dust under the dock in 1960. Now informally referred to as O Dock, which may derive from the old tradition of naming docks after the street they were on, here being Oregon St.

Its persistence is an enduring reminder of the city we once were and no longer are.

Extinct Business & the Battle Of the Banfield.

Not so very long ago, Portland was absolutely lousy with dive bars. Chris & Tina’s Cafe and Tavern must have been no different from any other. A blue haze of unfiltered cigarette smoke, the stale linger of improperly vented fryer hoods, cracked vinyl booths, and a plastic menu board with RC Cola logos, typical of this kind of establishment.

This, of course, is all romantic conjecture. What we know for certain is that Chris & Tina’s occupied the corner of Union Ave (MLK. Blvd.) and NE. Holladay St. from 1937 to an unknown date. Apparently it was notable enough to merit a column by Doug Baker in the Oregon Journal, who called it the “oldest business on Union Ave”. The site of Chris & Tina’s has been vacant for as long as I can remember and is now owned by PDC. The next-door Teamsters hall was only just recently cleared to make way for a new convention center headquarters hotel.

By the late 60s the area was a dilapidated mess, crisscrossed with freeways, arterials and a patchwork of vacant lots and disused buildings. By the early 80s it had hit rock-bottom. This all changed with the opening of the first MAX line. But as we are about to see, that was not without great controversy and hand-wringing.

On April 6, 1978, approximately 400 persons gathered in the cafeteria of the Floyd Light Middle School to enter their comments into the official public record regarding the proposed Banfield Transitway Project (MAX). One Mrs. Bernice Marcoules spoke passionately in opposition to the proposal which included removal of the driveway to the parking lot of her family’s business: Chris & Tina’s Cafe & Tavern. It was clear to her and many others that the removal of on-street parking and limited access would mean certain death for their struggling businesses. No hope was allowed that MAX might actually improve their standing. Given the horrible state of the surrounding neighborhood, which was mostly attributable to prior transportation interventions, their skepticism was well founded. The implicit idea that patrons to their bar only arrive by automobile is baffling today but clearly in keeping with the time.

Here excerpted is Mrs Marcoules’ statement at the hearing:

In our sub committee meetings it has been said by Highway Department officials and by Tri-Met officials that there is a good chance that our business parking lot driveway would be closed. This action would be disastrous to our in and out trade and customer · service in general. With the removal of on-street parking the business parking lot becomes even more essential. Closing the driveway would also greatly devalue the property.

I would like to quote our Mayor, Neil Goldschmidt, from the Oregonian newspaper last spring where at a meeting concerning the Powell Boulevard Plan., he said “The street was originally given to us to move cars, not park them.”

…It seems odd that Goldschmidt would say such a thing.

According to the Mayor, more emphasis should be placed on off-street parking. In keeping with our Mayor’s suggestion, we feel we must retain our driveway on Holladay Street as an entry and exit to our parking lot. The Light Rail Transit Alternative sounds very glamorous, but how can our economic base handle it? Where will the additional funds come from? We are against a higher payroll tax, higher property taxes, higher gasoline tax, etc. Tri-Met can hardly operate their present system economically. They are proposing fare increases now, what will happen if LRT is adopted? Tri-Met must consider what the public is willing to pay for a mass-transit system.

During one of our meetings that is, our Subcommittee meeting, it was stated that 130 buses would travel Holladay Street during the peak hour traffic. The increase in noise and pollution would be hazardous to the entire area. What livability and livelihood is left in this area would be completely destroyed.

At no time have I ever heard of any study or forecast of what these changes would do to the area economically. In our opinion it is not worth the dollar value involved nor is it worth changing the entire area just to move 8 to 10 thousand people from East Multnomah County to the core area. Furthermore, it is our opinion that our city fathers want to keep our city and its neighborhoods more livable. This certainly cannot be done be destroying businesses in entire areas. To destroy an entire area just to make it a pass through for moving people to the core area is unthinkable.

We sincerely hope that this testimony appears in the public record. We know for a fact that letters have been sent to the editor of the Transitway News in compliance with his or her requests for comments on the Banfield Transitway Project. We have read all the Transitway News publications that have been mailed to us and we could not help noticing that only comments favorable to the project were printed and unfavorable comments were ignored.

In closing, we would certainly like to be kept informed on any decision that is made concerning the Banfield Transitway Project. When the alternative is chosen, we please must keep our Holladay Street driveway, and we must have written assurance that it will be kept open for as long as the business and property stays within our family. If necessary, we will have to engage an attorney to see that these needs of ours are met. Thank you.

In the end, we’ll never know if she ever changed her mind on the merits of MAX, transit or the value of taxes. But we do know it was worth it, even if it meant loosing Chris & Tina’s Cafe.

 

Before & After

Here is NE. 33rd and US. Grant Pl. back in 1976. One of the nicest little neighborhoods in Portland if you ask me. Not a lot has changed here but the restoration of heritage lighting and a trash barrel.

Powell Blvd., 1986

Everyone knows the first segment of MAX was funded by money earmarked for the dead Mt. Hood freeway. But it was also used to help rebuild Powell.

The freeway was to be 5.3 miles long, connecting  I-5 @ the Marquam Bridge to I-205 at Powell. It would have required the removal of over 1,800 homes and cost $333.9M ($750M 2016 USD). As these and other unsavory facts came to light, the project lost local support and was killed in 1974. But not before right of way clearance began along Powell, leaving those strange parking strips, frontages and the beautiful, broad tree-lined boulevard we all love today. Recently, TriMet has been planning a high-capacity BRT line for a Powell, though plans have been shelved after it was revealed that travel times would not be significantly improved over current conditions.

Before & After

These views of NE. Sandy near 45th, highlight the striking improvement street-trees can make. It appears most of these were planted in 1987-1990. Also note the changes in street lighting.

Oldtown/Chinatown, 1977

While not the most dynamic or exciting district, the Oldtown/Chinatown area has quietly transformed back into functional blocks. The fact that all these acres were covered in parking back in 1977 is testament to the abysmal property values and decrepit buildings dominating downtown prior to the 80s.

Greyhound Admin & Maintenance Building, 1930

A couple of weeks ago in my Greyhound post, I incorrectly wrote that the original passenger terminal was located under the Marquam Bridge and was recently demolished. That building was not a passenger facility but a maintenance shop, offices and garage. Passenger terminals were at SW. 6th and Salmon and Yamhill and Park Ave., in downtown Portland.

Thanks to a reader comment I was alerted to the error. While fact checking, I stumbled upon this breathless Oregonian article announcing the building’s opening in 1930. It cost $200,000 ($2.8M 2015 USD). What is most remarkable is the palpable sense of excitement emanating from the piece which was actually part of an full page spread devoted to Greyhound and it’s growth. Sort of reminds me of when Apple releases something these days.

Here is the article in its entirety:

(1930, Oct 1). Oregonian, p. 8..

GREYHOUND LINES SPENDING $250,000
Construction in Progress in Western Oregon.
BUILDING OPENS TODAY

Shops, Garage and General Office Structure Completed Here at Cost of $200,000.
New construction calling for an expenditure of approximately a quarter of a million dollars is being carried on in western Oregon by Pacific Greyhound lines. According to R. W. Lemen, vice-president in charge of Oregon Stages division of Pacific Greyhound lines, this expenditure represents the largest outlay of any motor coach company in Oregon in recent months. The principal structure is that of the new motor coach shops, garage and general office building which will be officially opened on the block bounded by Hood, Baker, Front and Sheridan streets in Portland. This structure represents an expenditure Of $200,000.

The Portland garage and general office building will cover an area of 200 by 240 feet. The second floor, facing Hood street, will serve as general offices for the Oregon division of the Pacific Greyhound lines. The entire main floor area of the build-ing will be given over to one of the most modern motor coach reconstruction and maintenance plants in the United States. While it is not contemplated to construct any new motor coaches in the Portland plant, arrangements are such that this work could be carried on without material realignment of the machinery and assembly equipment.

Complete reconstruction of motor coaches in service on the Oregon division of Pacific Greyhound lines, even to body rebuilding and, power Plant and chassis replacement and reconditioning will be done in the Portland plant. Constructed of steel and concrete, the building is entirely fireproof and represents every modern idea for motor coach maintenance. The capacity of the plant when all available space is occupied is rated at 77 motor coaches of modern design. Included in the cost of the structure is an item of $10,000 for modern tools and machinery of special design for motor coach repair and maintenance. One of the features of the plant is a wash rack that will thoroughly wash and renovate a motor coach in about five minutes. The floor plan has been so arranged, that a motor coach will enter at one driveway, and, after progressive movement over greasing pits, past oil and gasoline filling stations, through the washing rack, over brake-testing devices and various inspection stations, it will emerge ready for road operation.

According to Mr. Lemon, approximately 100 skilled mechanics will be employed to keep the more than 100, motor coaches operated by Pacific Greyhound lines in Oregon in perfect, condition. “At the present time Pacific Greyhound lines finds it necessary to maintain three garages and shops in various localities in Portland,” Mr. Lemen. said. “Facilities of all these three plants will be centered in the new building, thus making for greater maintenance economy and general efficiency. “Our general accounting and administrative offices are, at present, housed in several separate localities, and the consolidation of all administrative functions at the new plant will result in untold convenience for everyone transacting business with Pacific Greyhound lines in this territory.”

Portland Union Station, 1976

I wont bother going into any detail on the station, as much ink as been spilled regarding this beautiful building. But I do wonder if that roof is metal. It seems like every few years they are painting it and half the time it looks like this. I suppose a proper clay tile would be too heavy for the structure but would have been a better choice in hindsight.

Interesting fact: In October 2011, US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced awards of $291.35 million in High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) grants from the 2009 Recovery Act to six northeastern states and Washington state. Of this, Portland will get $13.6 million to modernize Portland Union Station. Waiting areas will be expanded, making the facility fully accessible to those with disabilities and improving its energy efficiency. A study will identify desired improvements to Portland-Eugene Amtrak service.

Also Interesting: PDC, which owns the property since the mid 80s, sees about $200,000 profit on earnings from tenant leases.

 

Airport Way. 1986

Incredibly, only a single through-lane was necessary to accommodate I-205 N. and eastbound traffic here. Airport way ended abruptly at the Shilo Inn until 1991.

Only in the last few years have we seen this interchange hit capacity.

Portland Style: 1988

The following snippets are from a hotel advertising vehicle titled “Portland and the Pacific Northwest” published in 1988. It includes information on the typical tourist traps like Washington Park and then-new Riverplace development, though I actually found the ads more interesting than the articles.

Certainly late eighties Portland had an edgier palate than represented here but this little book offers a glimpse into what passed as mainstream style, established tastes and tourist draws along with some funny ads for local shops.

 

 

 

 

Before & Afters

Ok, I actually went out and photographed these locations myself this time. Unfortunately, I don’t think they turned out but here they are anyway!