SW Water & Gibbs St, 1936

This is a great Depression-era photo of the area just off the west end of the Ross Island Bridge. Contrary to the marking on this photo, this is not actually Water & Gibbs Streets. The house at far right still stands at Corbett & Grover, putting Water & Gibbs out of frame to the right. I believe this was taken from the sidewalk on Front Ave. just south of Woods Street. Compare with this aerial photo of the same area showing this debris-filled lot at left center. Thanks to VP fan Craig Rowland for passing this on.

(City of Portland Archives)

10 thoughts on “SW Water & Gibbs St, 1936

  1. What an ironic juxtaposition of the Chevy advertisement overlooking what appears to be a mass grave for autos.

    Considering the fenced off sinkhole, I wonder if this photo was taken as part of a public utilities project.

  2. These dump sites used to be quite a problem back then. My step father told me about one he and his pals would hang out in around that time. There were so many cars in it that they would scrounge around and find enough parts to get one running long enough to bash it into something just for the fun of it.

  3. What a great picture! So many details to look at! How unexpected that the house on Corbett and Gibbs (and the house next door) would still be standing after all these years, and all the changes that have gone on in this area of Portland.
    The house looks better now than it did then and is obviously maintained
    with love and care. The craftsman/bungalow style porch columns (obviously a reto-fit) have been replaced with supports more in keeping with the original style of the house. I’ll bet the owner wishes that the ornamental ironwork on the rooftop was still there. Probably was sacrificed to a Wartime scrap drive.
    Oh, I just noticed that you can see the Poulson across the river through the haze. Too bad its twin, the Inman house fell prey to the wrecking ball so many years ago.

  4. That’s quite a little “hobo” camp set up under the sign. They even have a supply of firewood piled up.

  5. Great photo. And don’t forget to compare it to this aerial photo as well.

    Were those empty blocks in the 1930’s photos cleared for the eventual construction of the ramps seen in the 1952 photo? Was construction delayed by the depression / war? Hard to imagine those approx. three or so blocks just being vacant considering all around them was pretty densely developed, yet there seems to be quite a gap between their emptiness and the eventual construction of the ramp complex. I’m not sure exactly when those ramps were built but as noted in the VP post they look pretty new in the 1952 photo.

    Also, Edmund, it looks like the ironwork is still there in the ’52 photo so apparently it survived the war.

  6. Oops, my link above went to just the aerial photo, which is fine as far as it goes, but inconvenient to those who want to see the actual post. So here is the VP post with that photo.

  7. I admit my poor old eyes aren’t what they used to be Brian, but I can’t see the ironwork in the ’52 pic, even when I zoom way into the picture.
    Doesn’t mean it wasn’t still there when that newer picture was taken, I just can’t tell.
    Interesting that they removed the half hip roof from the back of the house since then and added a flat roof/deck there instead. They also added double windows to the north walls of the first and second floors. That old house has gone through a lot of changes through the years!
    I’ll bet it’s at least 125-130 years old.
    Thanks for adding the link to the post with the ’52 aerial photo.

  8. I can see the Inman house in the photo as well. It’s further to the left than you expect, almost to the gasholder. It was at Woodward, so a block north of Powell and the R.I. bridge.

    I like the double lamps on each larger “post” in the bridge railing. Another thing ODOT didn’t restore when they rebuilt the Ross Island Bridge some years back (when they also lowered the south railing to roadway level.)

  9. I agree with you Doug, I think those old “acorn” style street lights really classed up the place, in spite of the extreme poverty being evidenced in this picture. The new ultra-efficiency street lamps and poles on many area bridges have all the charm of the alien heat-ray machines in “War of the Worlds”, either version. I guess on the flip side they are better for the environment. I saw the Inman house as well, but it did surprise me how far north of the bridge it was, heh.

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