Shocker: City planned to gut Hollywood for massive interchange

These slides were missfiled in my collection, but take a gander at this horrific plan to gut the Hollywood District for a massive grade separated interchange at Sandy and 39th.

Though undated, I estimate this is from the late 30s. Old enough for Steigerwald Dairy bottle to be standing and for traffic congestion to be a thing.

Thank god they decided not to go forward with the plan, however the rendering is pretty refined indicating that they were far enough along in the process to be pumping out visuals for the public. It is shocking to remember how willing to destroy their neighborhoods for ease of traffic people were. Sort of reminds me of how we treat the internet today.

The accompanying aerial clearly shows little traffic, so this must have been purely anticipatory destruction. Even better!

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Steigerwald Dairy Milk Bottle

The annals of early 20th century roadside architecture are littered with the sad reality that novelty buildings in strange shapes hold little promise of future adaptability. This was never truer than the tortured fate of the Steigerwald Milk bottle at the corner of Sandy and 37th Ave in Portland which has managed to look sadder with every passing iteration since its original glory as a giant milk bottle.

The bottle/building stood 75-ft tall and was the tallest structure in Northeast Portland when it was built in 1926. Inside, an iron spiral stair permitted access to the circular roof, atop which a Christmas tree with electric bulbs was erected every December. Ten years later the dairy was sold and with it the building to Pabco Paint. The bottle was blunted to become a couple of paint cans stacked on end. In 1940, 7-Up made use of the bottle and placed an iconic art-decco sign with animated carbonated bubbles rising.

By 2002 the derelict neon was repurposed as a Budweiser sign built on the same base and thus looking quite amorphous. Most recently the sign has morphed into its ugliest version yet: an ad for Director’s Mortgage, consistent with that firm’s tradition of aggressively ugly advertising. Lets hope the shocking rise in property values leads a wise developer to see the potential for this landmark building and does something imaginative with it.

East End of Broadway Bridge: 1950s

Most of my posts are centered around pics from this 70s, but after finding this gem mis-filed in my slides, I couldn’t resist sharing.

If the photographer would turn a bit you would see a super strange pedestrian island in the middle of Broadway designed to serve passengers of trolleys and later, these electric trolleybuses. I am not an expert in anything, let alone Portland transportation, but from what I understand, riders accessed this island via stairs and a tunnel which permitted safe (if urine stank) passage to the sidewalk. Here is some film footage of the island in action.

This arrangement would be impossible today due to the requirements of the 1990 ADA and the general expectations among the transit riding public which renders such silly workarounds unacceptable. We do, however, see renewed interest in transit islands in Portland, most recently on NE Broadway near 21st where in May of 2016 a small test project realigned the street with one less travel lane and addition of a bikeway and islands. It will be interesting to see if PBOT adopts this arrangement when they move forward with their massive rebuild of this streetscape in the coming year. Perhaps one of my readers will know.

For more on the sad and short-lived electric trolleybus in Portland, check out Cafe Unknown‘s awesome page. Dan’s page also has a pic of a bus in the same lively with another witty slogan “You Dont Have To Park A Bus” -so true! The one here reads: “How Far Away Did You Park Today” both hinting at the major frustration of commuters finding parking downtown.

Deep Dive: Hawthorne Safeway & The Lost Optimism of Grocery Store Modern

The Safeway on Hawthorne at 28th is pictured here in 1975 with an eerily vacant lot. Though it was a crappy due to poor management and ham-fisted renovations, the building had interesting roots from an architectural perspective.

Beyond the broad expanse of oil stained macadam and poor selection, this 33,000 sq ft store had the distinction of being one of the last “Marina prototype” store designs in the metro area still held by Safeway. So named for the 1959 debut location on Marina Blvd in San Francisco, this groundbreaking prototype had three variants but all featured a distinctive serpentine roof carried by soaring glulams. This afforded a voluminous sales floor almost entirely absent of columns. The exuberantly modern design made the brand a standout among the monotony of grocers, with a bank of tall plate-glass windows fronting the street, flanked by twin entrances against a masonry core. A tragically butchered example still survives in Lake Oswego and there are several which have been converted to other uses like Hong Phat Food Center on 82nd at Burnside. Some communities have even sought historic preservation for these threatened buildings but they hardly stand a chance in the face of impatient corporations and developers attracted to the acres of parking on which they stand. I should also note Safeway did remodel a Marina at their MLK Jr. Blvd. location but with pretty sad results. They basically crammed their current design typology, “Lifestyles”, into the space with little to no accommodation for the unique opportunities afforded the dramatic 25′ ceiling.

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Before & After: SE. 82nd @ Powell

Stretching approximately 6.5 miles beside the longtime eastern boundary of Portland, 82nd Avenue is the city’s longest continual commercial strip. While it is easy to make fun of the relative squalor of 82nd, it would be wise to remember how much worse it was. It is still an ugly traffic-sewer, but as far as sewers go, it is pretty attractive. Thanks to rules on signage, setbacks, overhead utilities and the street trees, this stretch may not be perfect but it is workable.

 

se-82nd-and-powell-1937

SE. 82nd Ave started out life as a pleasant, if somewhat unstructured county byway. In 1937 it was rezoned commercial, setting the stage for the rampant speculation and slipshod development we all associate with it today.

 

Portland City Limits Growth by Decade.png

Portland city limits by decade. For approximately 60 years, 82nd Ave was at, or near the eastern edge of the city, which may be partly to blame for it’s neglect.

 

Portions of the following are excerpted from –  MacColl, E. Kimbark, The Growth of a city: power and politics in Portland, Oregon, 1915 – 1950, Portland, OR: Georgian Press, 1979.
   -and-  Portland (OR). Bureau of Planning, 82nd Avenue Corridor Study, Portland, OR: The Bureau, 1980.  –  Headlines: mine

Early Development of 82nd Avenue

The city published a Major Traffic Street Report in 1927 which directly addressed the future of 82nd Avenue. By 1927, the street had been paved by Multnomah County and the State of Oregon had designated it as part of the state highway system – Route 213. The existing right-of-way at that time ranged for 40’ to 80’ with a roadway width of 18’. This report recommended that in anticipation of increased traffic and the need for future widenings, the right-of-way should be developed to 120’ by 1977. This report also recommended that required building setback lines be established immediately to facilitate future widenings.

There were many highway projects in the 1930s. McLoughlin Boulevard received a grand total of $1.45 million ($20.8M 2015 USD), SE 82nd Avenue (a designated state highway) received over $401,000 ($5.7M 2015 USD). So rapidly did SE 82nd develop as a major north-south arterial that city council voted in August of 1937 to rezone the entire avenue for commercial & industrial purposes, thus dooming the future of Montavilla as a residential neighborhood

Plans and Promises

In 1943, the Portland Improvement Plan was presented to the city by Robert Moses. This report identified public improvements that the city should undertake in anticipation of the end of World War II. The major emphasis of this report was transportation improvements but in reality such projects served as a vehicle for unemployed post war construction workers. As in previous plans, this plan did not directly address 82nd Avenue in recommended public improvements; but an outer scenic drive was proposed linking Oregon City and the Columbia River Highway. This drive was proposed for the approximate location of the I-205 corridor. In the next three decades the availability of cheap land and an increasingly efficient street system encouraged development further from the city center.

Portland revised its zoning code in the early 50’s and finally adopted a new zoning code in 1959. By this time 82nd Avenue was a series of spot commercial zones from one end to the other. The area surrounding 82nd Avenue was reduced from apartment zoning to reflect usage – single family houses. The strip itself remained primarily business/manufacturing. Originally, all of 82nd Avenue was zoned multi-family residential purposes in 1924. However, it was designated a state highway and was the only continuous north-south arterial from Union Avenue to 122nd Avenue. It was attracting more and more traffic and more and more zone changes were granted. In fact, it was so spotted with business zones by the time the 1959 code was enacted that the entire length was placed in M3 (light manufacturing) except north of Burnside Street where it was zoned A2.5 (duplex). Otherwise, 82nd Avenue was left wide open for strip development. It lived up to its expectation.

The most noticeable physical change to 82nd Avenue since the late 50’s has been the loss of single-family houses along the strip and their replacement by commercial structures. This is also reflected in the loss of other single-family residences adjacent to the strip and their replacement with multi-family structures. These changes have occurred in the absence of strong policies to direct growth. The sole action directed toward the physical appearance of the strip was the introduction of a required setback in 1959, cited to provide for a cleaner and safer environment for all those using 82nd Avenue. Due to relaxant enforcement, signs, fences and other objects have encroached into the setback area almost since its inception.

The Freeway Era

Commercial activity along the street, and major intersecting streets, has changed. The commercial uses that existed prior to 1960 generally catered to a local trade but the opening of Eastport Plaza in 1960 and a Fred Meyer shopping center in 1964 at Foster road drastically changed shopping habits in the corridor and indirectly forced the closure of some neighborhood stores. The later construction of Bazars (now K-Mart), Mall 205, and Gateway Plaza reinforced these shopping trends. As shopping habits changed, traffic on the street increased. Average daily traffic has increased and commercial structures were auto-oriented uses. The opening of I-5 in 1964, and racial disturbances along Union Avenue, created a declining economic climate along Union Avenue. As a result, many auto-related businesses moved to 82nd Avenue, strengthening the concentration of auto-oriented businesses along that street.

(Written in 1979) – 82nd Avenue typifies a contemporary trend toward the growth of major streets with high volume traffic supporting businesses with large service areas, particularly shopping centers. Presently, the future of the street is uncertain. Extensive changes occurred relatively recently to change its character from rural to urban. Other extensive changes could occur to radically alter the health of businesses dependent upon the auto. The opening of I-205 in 1982 will most certainly have a negative effect on businesses dependent upon drop-in customers. A drastic reduction in the availability of gasoline would have a serious effect on the sales of autos, boats, and motor homes. 82nd Avenue will most certainly be as different 40 years form now as the first 40 years have been.

Deep Dive: 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.”

Deep Dive: Portland Greyhound Bus Terminal

 

It’s sad to see how the Greyhound Bus depot has fallen on hard times. The building which replaced a temporary rural-style metal shed was a major upgrade for intercity bus passengers passing through Portland. Until being demolished in the early 1990s, a 1939 streamlined-moderne building served as the Greyhound station on southwest Taylor between 5th and 6th Avenues, a site now occupied by the Hilton Executive Tower. This land was once home to the historic Corbett mansion from 1875-1936. The city requested at least one of the original neon signs be preserved for posterity. I am not sure where the sign ended up.  Located adjacent to Union Station, a new station opened in 1985 as a part of the north end of the Bus Mall (now Portland Transit Mall).

Designed by Skidmore Owens & Merrill, the building features a unique 128-ton roof suspended from 55 ft poles affording a completely open plan unencumbered by columns.  The structure is mostly one story with a basement dormitory at one end which is sometimes used by bus drivers during layovers. The total area of the ground floor is approximately 37,000 SF and the basement adds an additional 11,100 SF.

The construction was financed with $6.5M investment from Greyhound Lines and $900,000 public funds for site prep and demo. The project was approved by the city under three conditions: exterior design review, any exterior signage be approved and that the architect consider reuse of signs from the old building.

Winning an AIA Honor Award in 1984, jurors asked: “Whoever said that a bus station couldn’t be a fine example of contemporary urban architecture? A bus station which attracts rather than repels is unfortunately a rarity in America.” But due to years of neglect, falling airfares, long-term legacy costs and lack of system investment the bus depot is a shadow of what it once was.

Greyhound managers have discussed the spatial needs and program requirements of the station. Many of the existing spaces on the ground floor in the building are too large and are underutilized given current service levels. Some spaces are not needed for Greyhound operations under current corporate service standards, such as the restaurant in the waiting area. The dormitory located in the basement at the north end of the building may be functionally obsolete as Greyhound drivers typically live in Portland and do not sleep over at the facility. Outsourcing is possible for drivers that need to stay overnight during storms using hotel accommodations rather than maintaining an in-house dormitory.

A 2009 report recommended the relocation of the bus terminal to a site across the street from Union Station with support spaces housed in Union Station.

Editors note: Greyhound operated an administration and maintenance facility on SW Hood in 1930 which was recently torn down.