SW 5th Avenue & Washington, 1949

SW 5th Avenue was very busy place where it crossed Washington Street in this 1949 photo. Pedestrians, autos, buses and streetcars all vie for space. Other than the wooden “no left turn” sign in the middle of the intersection, there don’t appear to be any traffic controls. Both streets were two-way at the time, further complicating things.

A2005-001.900  SW 5th Ave and Washington St looking south on 5th Ave 1949(City of Portland Archives)

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17 Responses to “SW 5th Avenue & Washington, 1949”

  1. Brian Says:

    Great photo. You can see the old divided crosswalks with “lanes” for pedestrians. There are traffic controls though – you can see single traffic signals hanging from the wires. One is right by the “O” in “The Owl Drug Co.” sign, and another can be seen next to the fourth car in line at the intersection.

  2. Mike G Says:

    …with the other traffic control: the bobby soxers in the crosswalk.

  3. Fred Stewart Says:

    Reblogged this on Oregon Real Estate Round Table.

  4. Jim K Says:

    Ahhh…the Blue Bus Line! I’d almost forgotten!

  5. Greg Says:

    Also the Dr. Goodman sign. He and a couple of other dentists (Semler comes to mind) were persona non grata in the professional dentist world during the middle part of the 20th century because they advertised their services. Nowadays nobody gives it a second thought.

  6. igor stravinsky Says:

    What is the marker in the middle of the intersection with the wooden feet for? Isn’t that sitting in the middle of a trolley track?

  7. Tad Says:

    @Igor, I assume the presence of the bus indicates that the 5th ave streetcar is no longer in service. The marker says “No Left Turn”.

  8. Nancy Says:

    it looks like there is a pedestrian control signal also on the far top right. I wondered why it is I have always felt a little uncomfortable seeing dentist signs. My parents must have commented on it when I was a child.
    It appears to be cold outside so I would guess these are Christmas shoppers. A number of them are carrying packages and there are a lot of women on the street also.

  9. Nancy Says:

    oops, I meant bottom right for the signal.. I see one about midway up also

  10. Dave Smith Says:

    I would imagine (guessing) the pole in the center of the street was for the traffic officer to direct traffic? Just a guess! :+)

  11. Jared Says:

    I love everything about this picture!!! The Owl Drugs Store, the buses, the people.

  12. Brian Caughey Says:

    A Kaiser (or possibly its tricked-out sister, the Frazer) pulled up beside the rear wheel of the bus.

  13. rod taylor Says:

    Some might notice that 5th ave has been divided here into five lanes in a short lived experiment to improve rush hour traffic flows. Notice that there are two lanes devoted to parking and one lane to north bound traffic and two lanes to southbound traffic. The temporary lane division is provided by the no left turn post which appeared at every city center intersection on the streets that were affected which were I believe, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th. The allocation of the middle lane was decided by the morning or afternoon rush hour preponderances of traffic directional requirements. The decision to resort to the present one way grid was very soon taken.
    The sudden and unplanned for explosion in population that the area experienced with the coming of the second world war and it’s impact on a town that was designed for the horse and buggy was in every way traumatic. There was a great and fevered casting about for solutions to all the problems exposed by this growth.
    The bus is a nearly new Mack in the livery of the Portland Traction Co, (3rd) and that Brill Master Unit peaking out of Washington St is what was referred to as a “Broadway” as that was their original assignment is from the last class of streetcars ever purchased new in 1932. I believe it is coming off the Williams Ave line. Interestingly these 15 streetcars arrived in Portland aboard ship not by rail on flat cars as you might expect.

  14. Bruce Urmson Says:

    middle right,parked at curb,studebaker with curved rear window.
    studebaker created a lot of interesting cars before their unfortunate demise.too much was sacrificed (including streetcars) to the automobile.

  15. Brian Caughey Says:

    I was a 7-year-old kid in 1949, frequenting overtown Portland when it was the retail center of the city.I remember tagging along after my mother in chilly December weather, making mandatory stops at Meier and Frank’s 10th-floor Christmas Wonderland and many other similar places. Every store had an elaborate holiday-related window display. I still have a photo, taken by a candid cameraman, of my mother and me on a busy sidewalk. (My mother in hat and gloves, don’tcha know.)

  16. Andrew Says:

    It seems there are traffic lights there (buried among the streetcar wires) but based on the chaos, nobody seems to be obeying them.

  17. Karl Says:

    Great photo, the trolley tracks are what was know as an almost grand union allowing any trolley to continue on any route, this is not a full grand union. Karl

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