Portland Panorama, 1909

This is a very nice early photo of Portland’s Corbett/Lair Hill neighborhood with the Willamette River, Northeast Portland and Mt. St. Helens forming a backdrop. I believe the large house (actually a duplex) just beyond the mostly-empty block with the small house at lower right is still in existence, one lot north of the corner of Water Ave. and Whitaker St. The big building at center left is probably the original Failing School.

(City of Portland Archives)

15 thoughts on “Portland Panorama, 1909

  1. Just north of the large house on the next block
    facing south are three smaller homes. All three
    appear to be happy and healthy today.

  2. I would imagine that if it wasn’t replaced by Ross Island Bridge approach or Barbur Blvd. building, that the majority of the houses in this photo probably are still there. Whenever I have driven through the area I am always impressed with the way time has seemed to stand still in this area, so close to downtown Portland. Amazing.

  3. What’s the third bridged? I recognize the original Morrison & Burnside Bridge but it’s too early the Broadway…

  4. I think the date on this photo maybe a little bit earlier. If the first bridge we see is the 1905 Morrison, why aren’t we seeing the present day Hawthorne under construction in 1909 ??? I believe the Madison Bridge #2 burned in 1902, leaving no crossing at Madison until the Hawthorne opened in 1910. The construction of the Hawthorne must have taken more than a year.

  5. I am pretty sure closest bridge in Hawthorne, then #2 is Morrison (I am basing this on other photos I have). The Burnside bridge didn’t open, I believe until 1926, so bridge #3 must be the original Steel Bridge. The 1890 Pitmon poster of Portland shows those 3 bridges only.

  6. Hmmm …. interesting, thanks. If the first bridge is at Madison Street, it must be Madison Bridge #2. This would date the photo prior to 1902, the year that bridge burned. This is a very cool photo, regardless when it was made for the simple reason that I can clearly see my own home.

  7. I love this stuff. I am a puzzle solver type personality. I like to figure stuff out, find things, verify things. I do a lot of genealogy that way. Figuring out what was where when in Portland falls into some of those lines. I have a huge collection of old photos and maps and panoramas on my computer that I have picked up from various places, fun to match stuff up. The 1890 Pitmon map/poster has a group of the more well known bldgs around the outside and is numbered with a legend down below telling what you are looking at. I have a copy about 4 by 3 foot so that it is actually pretty easy to read but the PDF from the archives blows up to a pretty good readable size.

  8. Yes, Craig is right, the date of the photo is definitely wrong. The middle bridge is clearly the original Morrison Bridge (not the one replaced in 1958, I mean the one replaced in 1905). The trusses are very distinct and between the east end of the swing-span and the east bank there are three trusses (the eastern truss is hard to see because of the background but obviously there) whereas the 1905 replacement had only two trusses east of the swing-span and the trusses were of a different design.

    The bridge in the foreground is the Madison (the only question is whether it’s the first or short-lived 2nd built in 1900 and destroyed in 1902). The third bridge is the original Burnside Bridge.

    The other bridges mentioned (original Steel and the not-yet-built Broadway) are past the bend in the river and both are at a very different angle than the three bridges seen here.

    Given the existence of the Madison, the latest this photo could be, as pointed out by Craig, is 1902.

  9. Interesting in as much as I have two “maps” of Portland and those 3 bridges and one says it is the Burnside and one says it is the Steel. The 1890 Pitmon has no Burnside Bridge at all. The other one from an unknown source dated 1893 has a Burnside Bridge that seems to connect to NW Davis. Can I assume the Burnside Bridge was built about 1881 or 1892?

  10. Roxanne, the original Burnside Bridge in this photo opened in 1894. The original Steel Bridge which, like the current bridge was a double deck combination railroad bridge and a very distinct design (definitely not the one in the photo), was opened in 1888.

    If you look at this 1894 map of Portland from an earlier VP post you’ll see the Madison, Morrison, Burnside and Steel (really helps to enlarge it though as the bridges are somewhat hard to see clearly – also there’s the old Stark Street Ferry on the map). Also, as today, you’ll see the Steel Bridge span in aligned in a NE/SW direction unlike any of the other bridges of that time.

  11. I found a very similar photo in the Bridges of Portland which confirms that the bridges in question are the Madison (Hawthorne), Morrison and Burnside. Turns out that one of the spans of the original Burnside Bridge ended up spanning the Sandy River at Dodge Park, replacing an earlier wooden bridge. Judging from the captioning on my photo, the Burnside may have been under construction which would explain why it is hard to see some sections….they may not have been there. That would date this photo about 1894 or so if that is so.

  12. Very interesting discussion about the actual date of this photo. One way to date a photo is the vehicles. One undated photo on the American Memory site was so detailed, that, with great enlargement, the license plate dates were clear. No such luck here, as the streets are curiously deserted. I do see what could be an automobile parked to the left of the building with the black smoking smokestack. Having looked at many 1900 street scenes on American Memory, this just does not have the “look” of a pre-1900 photo.

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