Before & After: Barbur Blvd.

Here we stand on the sidewalk near 4123 SW. Barbur Blvd back in the late-summer heat of August of 1986 taking in the southerly scene. Gravel remains on the sidewalk eight months since last snowfall and streetlight poles obscure all but a scant 2′ of usable sidewalk, clues to the kind of expectation of walkablity here

The Working Riverfront, 1977

Concrete factories and decaying docks line the Willamette shoreline here in 1977. You can almost smell the grit of cement dust and hear the machines, much as they are today in this location. Only a matter of time before this last vestige of river-industry is cleared to make way for “lofts”.

Swan Island Basin, 1977

A lot of old ships hanging out in the Swan Island Basin.

Lets take a closer look at the two US Navy Gearing-class destroyers anchored side by side.

USS Rogers (DD-876) so named in honor of three brothers who all lost their lives aboard the USS New Orleans in 1942. She was built in 1944 by Consolidated Steel in Orange, Texas, launched in 1944 and served in WWII in the Pacific and the Korean War. Rogers was refitted in 1963 and deployed to Vietnam until 1969. Sailing between San Diego and Vietnam, she won meritorious commendation for her assistance in extinguishing a nearly catastrophic fire aboard the nuclear carrier Enterprise. In 1974 she shifted homeports to Swan Island and tasked with training US Navy reserves until being decommissioned in 1981 then sold to South Korea where she is now a museum ship.

The ship in the foreground is hard to identify, but I believe her to be USS Hamner (DD-718), named for Lieutenant Henry R. Hamner who had died during a kamikaze attack on the USS Howorth just months before. Launched in 1945 in Newark, New Jersey. She immediately deployed with the 7th fleet destined for various Chinese and Japanese ports and returned home, repeating this pattern until Korean hostilities began in 1950. There, she bombarded communist supply lines with great success until 1953. After this she mainly made good-will visits to Asian ports. Modernized in 1962 Hamner resumed operation in the waters off Vietnam, participating in Operation Traffic Cop by shelling communist supply ships. By the early 70s she was reclassified as a Navy reserve training ship and regularly sailed between San Diego and British Columbia. In July 1975, she shifted her home port to Portland, Oregon, where her crew began referring to their ship as ‘the Old Gray Ghost of the Oregon Coast.’Hamner held her last training in 1979 and a year later was sold to Taiwan.

These and so many of the ships of Portland help illuminate the storied past of shipping so central to Portland over the years. The great many men who called these ships home if only briefly, have so many colorful histories to share. Indeed, many of these ships have whole websites devoted to collecting and documenting their stories.

Before & After: Union Ave. 1982

Today’s before and after is from precisely 34 years ago near the intersection of NE Union Ave (MLK Jr. Blvd) and NE Davis.

One thing we take for granted today is the longevity of our cars. In fact, the average age of cars on the road today is 11.5 years, which consitutes a sharp rise even in the last decade. Notice in this picture, a blue 1974 Mercury Comet with ragged vinyl roof. Barely 8 years old and this thing has serious cosmetic defects. I hardly imagine many 2008 cars have such problems, save the occasional case of headlight oxidation. Nor must we constantly lube our cars. Pity the corner station, which has no use in the era of once-a-month-fill-ups and 10,000 oil changes. Now converted into all manner of coffee shops, dog baths and cafes, these vestiges of a more trouble-prone automotive past have been reabsorbed into the fabric of the city.

Future Springwater Corridor 1977-1980

I am calling this post Future Springwater Corridor, even though it encompasses some of the Eastbank Esplanade. Apparently these were taken as part of a study of that area and date from 1977-1980. As I discovered during scanning, at some point in the 70s, there was actually a plan to use the trail South from the cement plant, as a regional transit-way, whatever that means. This illustration made it appear on par with freeways. I wonder if this was part of an aborted streetcar/LRT scheme. Anyone who has more information can chime in.

Near St. Johns Bridge, 1977

Due to popular feedback, I decided to put a little more St. Johns up. I have plenty more where these came from.

Above Ladd’s, 1977

A beautiful, clear August day in 1977 when this aerial were shot. Some super-efficient asbestos wrapped octopus HVAC ducts hanging out on those black tar commercial rooftops. Like Irvington, Ladd’s is an inner-city anomaly. As the rest of the city decayed around it overrun with crime and commerce, these relatively affluent enclaves have remained very desirable and charming.