10 thoughts on “N Williams & Russell, 1937

  1. So I went to google.maps & if I have my bearings right, the building with the Safeway still exists? I remember that intersection from the ’60’s. The building with the bay windows was very cool.
    I’d love to be able to walk into that drug store & look at all the merchandise being sold back then.

  2. Built in 1911, according to PortlandMaps.com

    Currently the only thing still standing on that corner. I remember this area from taking the bus up to work at the Red Cross a few blocks up Vancouver from here, until about two years ago.

  3. Jay, were any more of the buildings standing during that time? I’m just wondering when everything was torn down.

  4. Williams was another “urban renewal” project, a few years after Old South Portland.

    This (by then mostly African American, as many blacks moved here after the 1948 Vanport Flood) neighborhood became a victim of Emanuel Hospital’s proposed expansion, which never actually happened after the assumed federal funding failed to pass Congress (after they teamed up with PDC and bulldozed numerous blocks, naturally).

    Vast chunks of the old urban fabric along Williams (and specifically the old commercial hub here at Williams and Russell) were basically torn down for nothing, and there’s still nothing there decades later. The NW corner of Williams and Russell is today a fenced-off block of dirt.

    Memorial Coliseum and I-5 were other projects around this time which cleared out many wide swaths of old Albina.

    The drug store in the picture was probably torn down around 1972 or so, at which time it may have been Paul Knauls’ Soul Food restaurant, bar and pool hall –


    The old Cotton Club was in this area, as well –


  5. Thanks for the bit of history, Jay. I know that during the ’60’s Albina was a very active area & it didn’t start to go downhill until the 70’s. Because I was a teenager in the heyday of Motown I was really into soul music & there used to be a record store on Union called Bop City that sold a lot of great music that wasn’t always on KISN radio. There was also a theater (Egyption maybe?), Lampus furniture, candy & donut shops, restaurants, & on Fremont one of Portland’s first McDonalds.
    An interesting aside about Cass Elliot. I was going up to see my dentist in a building on Morrison & 6th & when the elevator came down a couple of familiar faces got off. As I rode up the elevator I tried to remember where I’d seen them before then realized it was Cass Elliot & one of the Papas. I went back down to get a second look & they were getting into a cab & some teenage girls were gushing over them. I didn’t realize Portland was one of Ms. Elliot’s hangouts.

  6. I well remember visiting Matthieu Drug in the late 1950s–it was an official pay station for water and PGE bills. My mother worked just around the corner at Emanuel Hospital so we knew the area well. Even as a youngster i rmember going into Matthieu Drug and thinking I had stepped into the past–never forgotten. Thanks for the post!

  7. Ron, after collecting some of my great grandmother’s things, I came across a prescription from Matthieu Drug Co., so looked it up.Which, brought me here. It’s cool to read PDX history. Glad you got to visit the drug store before it was gone!

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