West Burnside, 1947

This is a fairly well-detailed aerial photo from 1947. West Burnside cuts through the center from about 22nd Avenue at the bottom to 10th at the top. This was before I-405 sliced through Portland and gives a decent view of a few of the blocks that were lost. Multnomah Stadium (Civic Stadium/PGE Park) is prominent on the right.

(City of Portland Archives)

14 thoughts on “West Burnside, 1947

  1. What was the wing shaped building at about 15th and Davis? A parking structure? Gas station? Drive-In?

    Good detail. You can just make out the multiple gables and peaks of the George I Williams townhouses just on this side of the catholic church grounds at about 19th and Davis. I knew it as “The Lawn” apartments. A co-worker lived there for a short time. Quirky and funky subdivided townhouses. It’s now been refurbished to high-end condos.

    I’m fairly certain that the Quonset hut between 14th and 15th at Alder wasn’t widely mourned.

    Thanks again Dan.

  2. Jim, It looks like the bldg. at 15th and Davis might be a gas station. If so it’s an unusually large one. I wonder if it was mainly to service trucks in the area as there was a lot of warehouse activity at that time and new “super service stations” for trucks were coming into use just after the war.
    Regarding the Quonset huts, I heard at one time that many of the Quonset huts around Portland were army surplus from WW2. I remember seeing a few around the city when I was growing up. You don’t see too many anymore.

  3. Somehow, for me, it always ends up coming back to one particular building. As near as I can tell from GoogleMaps, that Quonset hub was at 14th and Morrison, the former site of the old Portland High School. The hut was subsequently replaced with a U.S. Bank, which in turn, was converted to a day care. Nearly full circle in this block’s use.

  4. Cue requiem music for the well-treed Knapp House here… Never entrust your home to a church, especially one that needs parking.

  5. By the way, I lived in a third-floor garret at The Lawn in 1989/90 – there is a book waiting to be written about that amazing place.

  6. NW 15th and Davis was home to Fifteenth Street Automotive Service in the 1940s. According to the Oregonian, they specialized in “shampooing” your car – basically the place was an early modern Rub-a-Dub.

  7. Where Fred Meyer is now… was that an older Freddie’s or something else? I understand the current Freddie’s was built in 1968 (its about to go thru a major renovation and expansion).

    That flatiron across the street from Freddie’s is also to go thru a major renovation.

    On-street parking on Burnside again would improve that street so much.

    Campbell Memorial looks like then it was a great public space before the McDonalds and Kiss Car wash opened and destroyed the streetwall enclosure to the north.

  8. The Snell mansion can be seen here on the Southeast corner of the block between the Knapp house block and the Episcopalian Cathedral. George Snell was a very successful druggist.There was a wonderful panorama published in the West Shore Magazine in 1888 that showed much of this area, including the Knapp house, taken from the vantage point of one of the second story balconies of the Snell place. The Snell mansion lasted until 1954, when its fine fittings,fireplaces,paneling, and stained glass were auctioned off and it was razed.
    The David Dunne residence shows prominently on the Southwest corner of the block behind St. Mary’s. The Dunne family lived there continuously until 1960 when the Cathedral School replaced the buildings on that block.

  9. I should clarify my previous comment. Ms. Drake’s article is a beautifully written piece. However, in addition to the near perfect evocation of a particular time, place and community, it also includes some graphic and disturbing social commentary and recent history. So be forewarned.

    After rereading her article, I watched Gus Van Sant’s Mala Noche on Hulu. One of the only scenes of the inside of The Lawn that I remember was a shot of Roberto running up what I believe were the main stairs between the second an third floors. After the refurbishment (into 10 condos), that gorgeous curving stairway still exists, but ends in a ceiling. It’s become a mere “ornamental detail.”

  10. Jim,
    Thanks for the link to Ms. Drake’s piece. It was both moving and informative.
    I’m definitely going to watch Mala Noche now.

  11. Yes, thank you for the follow-up links Dan. That picture of the staircase reminds me of the Winchester Mystery House,.

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