SE 39th Ave & Belmont, 1949

SE 39th Avenue was just another north-south suburban street until it’s designation as an artery and widening to 90 feet. Here is what it looked like as it passed Belmont Street in 1949 before the widening project.

A2000-025.2109 Before widening SE 39th north of Belmont 1949(City of Portland Archives)

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43 Responses to “SE 39th Ave & Belmont, 1949”

  1. Tom Jones Says:

    I stayed at the Laurelhurst Apartments for about 6 months in 1965 before getting my Report For Duty notice from Uncle Sam. The apartments were and still are about 150 feet north of this corner and on the right hand side of this view. Right across 39th street was a great neighborhood tavern, the Cozy Pine. The night bartender’s name was, I believe, Merle. At the corner, where the gas station sat in this photo, was a Winchell’s Donut Shop. I had one the front apartments on the second floor and got to listen to all the night time traffic speeding up and down 39th at night.

  2. Robert J Says:

    I was told that the building on the right, which is still there but horribly remodeled, was a drugstore when the Walgreens went in across Belmont. It thus went out of business and the owner was said to have laid a curse on the place. It’s still largely empty as far as I can tell, so I guess the curse worked!

  3. mjcujo Says:

    Three pole climbers adding to the tangle of phone and power lines.

  4. Tom Jones Says:

    Robert, I don’t remember a drug store in 1965 at that corner. I know there was a coin laundry but I’m not sure if the door was on 39th or Belmont

  5. John S. Says:

    Kinky’s Kleanin’ Korner was the name of the coin laundry. Walgreen’s opened in the 1990′s. There was no drugstore in the corner building at that time.

  6. Randy Says:

    39th Ave was not widened here to 90 feet. Try 35 feet.

  7. oldwxwatcher Says:

    On the corner where the lady is apparently waiting for a bus, and out of the picture to the right, was a Safeway store. My father used to go shopping there once a week and one thing he always bought was coffee. There were two electric grinders and each had a selector dial for type of grind. I got to turn the grinder on and off, a big deal for a 6-year-old. The smell of the coffee as it was being ground was pretty neat, too.

  8. rod taylor Says:

    A four way blinker and drivers respecting pedestrians. Quaint.

  9. Larry H. Dodgion Says:

    I think the tag should be Laurelhurst Park, and not Mt. Tabor Park.

  10. Chris Says:

    If you zoom in, you’ll notice, in the second floor window of the building on the right “Dr. Krumbien, Dentist”. I wonder if he has any relation to the Architect Justus Krumbien, who designed a lot of old portland homes (many that met the wrecking ball).

    I suppose we’ll never know…..

    @ Larry, if we were facing West on Belmont you’d be correct about the “laurelhurst park” sign.

  11. Elliott Says:

    Laurelhurst Park would be straight ahead at the next light on 39th. Mt. Tabor is to the right, and there is an arrow sign pointing to it on the stopsign, hence the tag.

    I lived in one of the 2-story houses on the west side of 39th, in the block between the tavern and the next service station, in the mid-70s. Remember the tavern had poker games going on in the backroom.

  12. oldwxwatcher Says:

    Don’t know about the family history of Dr. Krumbien but I attended classes at Glencoe Grade School with his son, David, who later became a dentist himself.

    Note the stripes on the power pole on the NW corner, which meant it held a fire call box. However, it looks like the call box might have recently been moved to the pole to the left, next to the gas station sign. Perhaps the original pole was going to be removed due to the street widening project?

  13. Kenn Says:

    39th, a street name much more easily located than “Chavez”. Wonder how much it cost to make and put up hundreds of new street signs to name this for a person most had never heard of.

  14. champs794 Says:

    Randy: for the city’s bare minimum, four lanes would be roughly 50 feet wide. There might be 90 feet graded just south of Belmont for the extra turn lane and sidewalks.

  15. Brian Says:

    Regarding width: Using the Google Earth measuring tool it looks like 39th south of Belmont it’s about 50 feet curb to curb and about 65 feet if you include the sidewalks. North of Belmont it’s about 40 feet curb-to-curb and about 52 feet with sidewalks included.

  16. Randy Says:

    Regardless of what was the bare minimum, 39th Ave is not 50 feet wide between Belmont and Stark. There are 4 narrow traffic lanes curb to curb.

  17. Brian Says:

    And I should point out the 50 ft is where there is an extra right-turn lane. If you go back a one block to the four-lane part, it’s 40 feet wide south of Belmont as well. This makes sense as the lanes look like (and measure as) 10 ft. lanes and there is no shoulder.

  18. Brian Says:

    Randy, those four lanes are 10 foot lanes with no shoulder. 12 foot lanes are interstate standard like you find on the Glen Jackson bridge, by the way. And just looking at the street view makes it clear to me those are not 12 foot lanes (and Google concurs — though don’t take my word for it — feel free to measure it yourself :) )

  19. Chuck Says:

    I lived on 39th & Stark in the mid-70′s & remember going to the Safeway for shopping as well as Fred Meyer down on Hawthorne. (I wish we had FM in San Francisco) A schoolmate’s father worked at that tavern in the 60′s. Maybe 70′s, too. It’s a great old neighborhood.

  20. Ron Says:

    Enjoyed all the comments. “Oldwxwatcher’ has a great memory. Try this: the coffee being growned was no doubt Safeways’ house brand…and what was it’s name? Edwards.

    Also, the bus turning the corner is probably a “Rosie” electric given the overhead wires. Who among us can still remember then they occasionally came off the tracks and the driver got out with the pole and re-attached them?

  21. Chuck Says:

    I remember Rose City transit. The only electric buses that were still around in the late 50′s that I remember seeing were on NW 21st & 23rd. We have them here in SF & I occasionally see them lose the track. It usually happens on turns.

  22. nativepdx Says:

    oldwxwatcher was Safeway there before Albertsons?

    In the 70′s I lived a couple blocks south and it was a Albersons then.

  23. Chuck Says:

    You’re right. I thought it was an Albertsons. But it has been so long ago that I thought my memory was faulty.

  24. oldwxwatcher Says:

    nativepdx: Yes, Safeway was the original grocery store at that location. The building abutted the sidewalk. The entrance was to the right of where the woman is waiting for the bus, near the corner, and consisted of a pair of swinging doors. A small parking lot was located at the east side of the building. After Safeway pulled out the building was razed and a new one was built for Albertsons with the parking area in front as it is today.

    Ron: The bus you see is a Portland Traction Company gas or diesel vehicle. Rose City Transit (“Rosie”) came a bit later. There never were any electric trolley buses on Belmont. The wires you see are remnants of the streetcar line, which was converted to buses in 1949.

  25. Randy Says:

    On the west side 39th two blocks north of Belmont is Alder St. You can see the star of the Texaco gasoline station sign and the station was on the north west corner. In the 1960′s it was Ken Kelly’s Texaco and Texaco Fire Chief gas sold for 27 cents a gallon and Texaco Sky Chief gas sold for 30 cents a gallon. The station closed around 1971 and the business next door bought the property. Across 39th on the east side was 39th Ave Auto Sales – 700 SE 39th Ave. “Specializing in Good Low Cost Transportation” – the business card reads. The owner was John Sherman. You could also rent 10 and 12 foot vacation trailers at the car lot. If your car did not have a trailer hitch, for $5 extra you could rent a hitch that clamped onto your car bumper. The trailer wiring was plugged into adapters that they installed in your trunk. The car lot was quite large and extended down the center of the block behind the two houses to the south. A rental duplex and John Shermans house were both on the car lot property. I worked at the car lot and the Texaco station from 1965 to 1970.

  26. andrew Says:

    I think oldwxwatcher is right about the fire box too. You can see the outline of the original box mounting on the right pole. The linemen were likely there to transfer wires to the new pole as well.

  27. Tad Says:

    great discussion here.

    Now who can tell me, what does the tiny line of text at the bottom of the stop sign say? :)

  28. Mat Says:

    Tad – How about “Traffic Ordinance”?

  29. Sid Says:

    Wow, I grew up 2 houses to the west of the Chevron station. we were at 3841 Belmont. My mother owned a business,(Carlton Tile Co.) there . The drugstore on the right was owned by the Kaegi (sp) family but they later built a new drugstore at the end of our block on Belmont. We had 2 taverns there, at that time, the Cozy Pine and corner behind the Texaco station was the Elkhorn Tavern. I went to Sunnyside grade school and then Washington high school. The last time I was in Portland, our house was turned into the Belmont Pre-school.

  30. Greg Says:

    Safeway has more ex store building’s in Portland than anyone else. I know of at least 6 or 7 of them in a 2 mile radius of my house.

  31. larisazimmerman Says:

    Before the Walgreens went in, I remember it being “Lamb’s Thriftway,” up there by Peacock Lane.

  32. Sid Says:

    Remember driving down Peacock Lane at Christmas time because all the houses had fantastic decorations. The cops even had to direct traffic. Couldn’t do that now days because it might offend some jerk. Pity !!

  33. Sid Says:

    Hey “oldwxwatcher” you mentioned that there never were any old electric trolley cars on Belmont. Yes, there were and I rode them for years. I went to school, for 2 years, at Mills School on the corner of 60th and Stark and we rode it every day. The trolley tracks went west on Belmont and at 28th street they angled off to the right and continued alongside Lone Fir cemetery. This would be sometime in the mid to latter 40′s.

  34. Tad Says:

    Sid, if you look closer you’ll see oldwxwatcher was talking about trolley *buses* (aka electric).

    As for Peacock lane, I guess you haven’t been there in a while. It doesn’t sound like it’s changed much from what you describe.

  35. Sid Says:

    Tad, I left Portland in 1953 to join the Marines. When I left, the neighborhood was quite clean and friendly. A high school buddy, who lives in Atlanta, and I returned a couple years ago for a school reunion. We were both saddened by the amount of decline there. The amount of pan handlers and druggies in the downtown area was terrible. Very sad.

  36. Greg Says:

    On a Peacock Lane theme I remember going there in the late 50′s and 60′s when I was a kid. Around 25 years ago there was one house with a ’57 Chevrolet in the driveway all lit up with lights. The last time I went 2 or 3 years ago it was not there. The houses with their steep pitched roofs facing the street only add to the charm and effects of Christmas lighting and themes. It is best experienced on cold clear nights at temperatures below freezing.

  37. Brian Says:

    I’m surprised no one pulled up the tax maps to see what the width actually is. Starting at Stark St. I see the original 50′ plus an additional 8′+12′ to the west and 10′ to the east for a total of 80′. But that only lasts a half block going south and the extra 8′ is gone. But the line on the east wanders easterly so that picks up some of the slack. At Washington street it peaks at 74.31′ but then seems to settle into 72′ street width. This is maintained until Belmont.

    South of Belmont, 39th appears to widen to 88′ but only down to Yamhill. Beyond that is a little fuzzy. Not all of the numbers are in place and 39th goes at a slight angle but it’s somewhere around 62′. At Salmon it opens up to ~72′. There’s the jog and pinch point at Madison where it’s 59.66′ feet at the narrowest but then flares out to something like 75′.

    Street widths (per plat maps) include sidewalks. From portlandmaps.com or ormap.org.

    As historians, shouldn’t we be calling this Prettyman Ave? I suppose it was 39th by the time this photo was taken… :-)

  38. Linda Raab Says:

    If I remember correctly the building on the north east corner housed a horse meat market in the late 60′s or early 70′s.

  39. Chuck Says:

    I remember the horse meat market, Linda, but I think it was located somewhere else.

  40. Janet Irwin Says:

    The endorsement market I remember in mid 1970s was near 40th on SE Hawthorne.

  41. Maggie Weber Hood Says:

    I also grew up in this neighborhood, and it is great to go down memory lane. I do not ever remember a pharmacy on this corner, but Kaegi’s Rexall pharmacy was on the corner of 38th (NE corner) and they Kaegi brothers moved up belmont at one point, but the space that they leased had no water, and they had to be able to wash hands. I am not sure if they then moved out of the neighborhood or decided to bag it and retire, although I doubt that as they still had kids in school. The building on the right once housed a dentist and a chiropractor upstairs. We called the Safeway store “the circle S” and then they built a new building, tore down the old one, and it became Albertsons. I remember you had to be careful of rats in that store, and several times brought home a mouse in a loaf of bread, still live.

  42. Sid Gerling Says:

    When I lived there, in the late 40′s and mid 50′s, Kaegis had a small drug store right off the corner of 39th and Belmont. They later built and opened their new store on the corner of 38th and Belmont. Mr and Mrs Kaegi ran the store along with their son who just finished pharmacy school. I was speaking to Mrs Kaegi once and mentioned my algebra teacher at Washington High. Her name was Hilda Proebstel and she also taught Mrs Kaegi when she was young.

    Next to the drug store was a very small tv and radio repair shop. Next to that was a shop owned by a man named Bob Burnham. He did machine work and sharpened all types of tools. He and his wife also owned and ran a tavern off the corner of 39th and Belmont called The Elkhorn Tavern. In front of the tavern, right on the corner, was a Texaco gas station.

    On the corner of 37th and Belmont was a grocery store owned and run by the Rilance brothers, directly across the street from the grocery store was a large second hand store and a barber shop.

    The Belmont pre-school at 3841 S.E. Belmont was our home. My mother owned the Carlton Tile Co that was located there. She later bought the houses on either side of us and the 3 houses that were directly behind us on Morrison.

  43. Maggie Weber Hood Says:

    I remember that store on 37th. It was closed while I was still very young. The thrift store was a favorite place to go look. I do not remember a barber shop there, Dad always had his hair cut at a shop between 38th and 39th, right next to where the pre-school is. When I was growing up, there were dentists offices right next to the drug store.

    It looks like you are a bit older than I, so your memories are different of the area. I, like my mother and 7 older siblings went to Sunnyside Elementary on 34th and Salmon I believe. Mom grew up in a big house on the corner of 34th and Stark, a house her father built.

    I also have fond memories of a butcher shop on 34th and Belmont where we always started our trick or treating. They passed out hot dogs (cold and raw) and we ate them, then we could go begging for candy.

    My uncle gave us a butchered hog once, and Mom and Dad had the parts kept frozen at that butcher shop, and Mom would send us kids down there for hunks of meat for tomorrows dinner.

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