Aerial View of Portland, 1949

This is a nicely detailed 1949 aerial photo of Portland looking north over the downtown area. The push to raze buildings for parking lots had not begun in earnest and the era of the skyscrapers was another couple decades away. A fabulous snapshot of the time.

(City of Portland Archives)

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13 Responses to “Aerial View of Portland, 1949”

  1. portlandpreservation Says:

    Amazing details in this photo. Pre-remodel Civic Auditorium and the nearby buildings from recent VP posts, brand new Equitable (Commonwealth) Building, several houses still standing in the downtown core. Very cool!

  2. dbrunker Says:

    I know there should be buildings that I recognize but I can’t find any.

  3. D.P. Says:

    Dan says, ==>>”The push to raze buildings for parking lots had not begun in earnest” <==

    Well, I wonder about that. I already see several surface parking lots along west Front avenue that probably replaced beautiful sturdy cast iron buildings.

    It looks like the Multnomah courthouse building has a big communications tower on top. Thanks for the wonderful pics of yesteryear.

  4. Carter Kennedy Says:

    Is the Equitable Building the unfinished frame behind Meier and Frank?

    What I find fascinating is that the westernmost span of the Morrison Bridge apparently was truncated, It looks like it was a normal span, but the construction of Harbor Drive required the pier to be moved. So they cut off the end of the span, rebuilt that part of the truss, and put it on a new pier.

  5. portlandpreservation Says:

    Yes – that’s the Equitable bldg. under construction. You can also just make out the tower of the soon to be demolished Oregonian Bldg.

  6. Elliott Says:

    What a wasteland between Front Ave., and the River. Harbor Freeway, bridge ramps, parking lots which eventually became Waterfront Park.

    Sort of looks like the wasteland where the Eastbank Freeway now occupies the east side of the river.

  7. cedr Says:

    What’s that massive cylindrical structure at the west end of the steel bridge? Water tower? Grain silo?

  8. Brian Says:

    cedr, it’s for natural gas storage. Here’s a closer view of it.

  9. Scott Says:

    What’s the cool building right above the word “aerial”, takes up a full block…don’t recognize that.

  10. cedr Says:

    Scott, that must be the Municipal Auditorium before its 1960s remodel.

  11. cedr Says:

    I’m assuming that the old Municipal Auditorium entrance was still on 3rd, like today, but the architect cleverly disguised the height of the flyloft with a more grandiose pediment on 2nd. Not sure why that side would appear to be draped–was it undergoing renovation in 1949?

  12. Dan Davis Says:

    I think what looks like draping is actually fire escapes.

  13. Kirk J. Poole ("Since '62!") Says:

    Excellent shot — Harbor Drive hadn’t been completed up to the Steel Bridge yet. It’s at it’s original (first incarnation) ending at Burnside.

    I know we needed and like the McCall Waterfront Park access to the Willamette, but I sure miss Harbor Drive. As a kid, we could get from Reed College / Kenilworth area to the Coliseum in about 11 minutes using Harbor Drive via Ross Island Bridge.


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