Aerial of Downtown, 1963

Portland was just on the verge of growing taller as this 1963 photo was taken. The Standard Plaza and Hilton Hotel buildings were brand new. The pace would accelerate in the late 60s and 70s when the (then) First Interstate Bank tower was built, still our tallest building. The Standard Plaza and Hilton are not on even on the tallest 20 list now. Harbor Drive still ruled our west waterfront, I-5 had not completely choked off our east waterfront, and I-84 in the distance was a commuters dream.

(City of Portland Archives)

11 thoughts on “Aerial of Downtown, 1963

  1. I was just entering my teens when this photo was taken & starting to discover downtown Portland. (Altho I question the accuracy of the date since the Fontaine is going up over by Lloyd Center & that was about 1966). The Congress Hotel is still there across from the PGE Building. It’s obvious I-5 is still pretty new since the pavement’s still so white. And, I have to admit, my memory of the old Journal Building/Farmers Martket is that of a much more attractive building than it appears to be. The Banfield freeway could get pretty congested during commute hours.

  2. 1963 seems fairly accurate to me. The OHS facilities had not been built yet along the park blocks and the First Congregation Church tower is shrouded in scaffolding – it was heavily damaged in the 1962 Columbus Day Storm. Also note the shiny new parking garage behind the old Broadway Theater. According to that was built in 1963.

  3. You could be right. I used to walk by the Fontaine everyday on my way to Central Catholic HS from 16th & Stanton & I would’ve been a freshman in ’63. My memory’s probably gotten rusty. I thought I was a sophomore or junior when it was being built. I know I was a senior when the neighboring Holladay Park Plaza went up.

  4. Wait. I was a freshman in ’64. I know the Fontaine didn’t start going up until after I started high school in the fall of ’63.

  5. This was taken a couple months before I was born. Traffic on the I-84 does look like a dream…….I get stuck on this on a daily basis. I would love to go back in time and view the city as it was back then. In the ‘modern’ age but just starting to grow. Before the urban renewal in the South Auditorium district and the Marquam bridge and I-5.

  6. Yeah, this was a little over a decade before my time. I’d love to see some pics from the old neighborhood pre-urban renewal in the South Auditorium area, myself.

  7. By the time this photo was taken the South Auditorium area would’ve been cleared. I didn’t get to see the area before that but did enjoy watching the 3 buildings go up as I rode the bus to the dental college. When I was a senior (’67) I was with some friends & we got lost somewhere between St Mary’s Academy & the river & came across what looked like a junkyard and a donkey pulling a wagon. That was a big surprise to see that downtown. I’ve only seen one photo of that area before urban renewal & it looked very old innner city. It looked great.

  8. I love this photo. Look over at the Weatherly building. See how big the Oriental theater was next to it. My class graduated from that theater because the auditorium was being remodeled. If you look at the west end of the Steele bridge you can see the gas storage tank is gone & the natural gas office building has taken its place. That steel framed structure across Park from the Fox Theater was a parking garage that loaded cars on the floors via an elevator. You’d give the attendant the keys, they would drive it onto a rickity elevator and deliver it to another floor. I think it was made more out of aluminum than steel.

  9. In 1963, I turned 13 and this photo shows a lot of my history. It shows the store my folks had for 31 years at 911 SW Taylor, called Fred’s Smoke Shop. The new parking structure by the Broadway Theater, I worked there after getting out of High School in 1969, later to Bates Motor Ramp across from my folks store on Taylor, then the parking lot at Taylor and Park & 9th. I practically grew up in Downtown Portland.

  10. Great photo and I too like the previous posts can relate to many of the features in this photo–from the newly built Cosmopolitan Hotel just north of Sears in NE Portland to the building just to the south of the librry downtown on Tenth street with “KPOJ 1330” on the side. KPOJ was the home of the old Portland Buckaroos hockey broadcasts with Bil Anderson calling the play-by-play and the likes of DJs such as Dick Novak.

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