Portland Panorama, c1880

In a discussion of Marquam Hill/Robinson’s Hill last week, Edmund linked to this terrific stereoscope image which begged its own feature. The view looks north up present-day SW 10th Avenue circa 1880, pre-dating the Old Church which would be directly ahead. I believe the vantage point of this image is the top of the steep slope at the end of 10th, just south of Clifton Street. Interestingly, there is an old brick reservoir gate house there still, and the construction we see here at extreme bottom left may be part of that reservoir.

(New York Public Library)

15 thoughts on “Portland Panorama, c1880

  1. Very interesting features. Just north of the vertical board shed/barn is what appears to be a mansard roof. Oddly enough, the roof line for what usually appears on two story houses is lower than the single story building to its left. The next block left holds a clue. The house on that property sits below the level of the surrounding streets. It’s a gully. Perhaps mansard roof house’s block has been partially infilled?

  2. Shouldn’t the Morris Marks house be in here somewhere? Can anyone find it? I know they are trying to move it to the small wedge of land that was once part of the reservoir taken out for the freeway. Anyone know the progress on the move??? Inquiring minds want to know…..

  3. Are you talking about the one at 1134 SW 12th or the one at the 1501 SW Harrison that was at 11th & Clay?

  4. The house that is on the street slightly left of center and to the right of the 3 little duplicate houses, and behind and right of the small bright white house looks like it would be the right one. That would be 11th. However, Clay is what, 6 or so blocks north of College?

  5. If the large street that runs north south, the street that appears to end at the base of the hill, in the foreground is 10th, this means that the flat area to the immediate left is a massive amount of fill. This is because this block of 10th today has a steep slope from the west side of 10th up to what is now Cardinell Dr. I doubt this because of these things:

    1) There is a house dating from 1912 that currently occupies nearly the precise sport where the sloped shed-like building, the one in the left center of the picture. The 1912 house is 20 steps up from the present sidewalk, and while built on fill, the back side that abutts Cardinells is steep and appear to be solidly volcanic. There is just not that much cut away from the slope to make as much fill as required to create the present slope.

    2) The square building near the bottom of the screen has been identified elsewhere as a gatehouse. There is currently a much smaller brick building at extreme end of SW 10th that houses valveheads and has three pipes coming out of it, which immediately go underground. Two are broken off.

    3) Again, in relation to the square building, at first I though that the linear object descending downslope from the hill might be the pipe that fed the valveheads, and thence possible to the old Lincoln reservoir. But blowing up the photo, it actually looks more like a well-made fence. However, this seems very odd since the fence would be extremely hard to build, and it’s location does not impede access to anything–it’s easy to just walk around it.

    The bottom-most feature that slopes downhill could be the original easement steps. A set currently exists from the south end of 10th up to Cardinell Drive, but this, too, is odd, since Cardinell may not have existed at the time. Alternatively, this is a support structure for pipes that fed a reservoir, but this again does not really fit with the current slope, which includes the pipes down to the existing small brick gatehouse/valveheads.


    I’m not thinking that the main north/south street labeled 10th avenue is actually the west transit of Park Ave (east transit not visible, to the right). If true, this would mean that the very large whitew house, with an elaborate portico, at the upper right corner of the photo, would have been where the park blocks are now. Does anyone know if this area ever had homes on it?

    This would make 10th be the next parallel street to the left in the old photo, and sure enough, it does seem to approach the slope in a way that is more consistent than the way it is shown here, as labeled.

    Any other opinions/corrections are greatly appreciated!!!

  6. lots to unpack! for now, as for (2), that structure has never been identified as the gatehouse AFAIK, as the gatehouse is small, and has arched windows.

    i sometimes think we are looking EAST along columbia, and that church spire is the calvary presbyterian at clay and 9th. the outline matches, but only if we are looking at the west side of the church.
    that also means we are standing somewhere in goose hollow where the max is now, and not robinson’s hill by cardinell. i’ve looked at the 1889 sanborns for hours, but can never quite make a solid match. the 1908 view from robinson’s shows a completely transformed portland, and it is hard to compare. plus it was taken at the top of the hill, behind piggot’s castle.

    if it IS at college and 10th area, i would wager the digging at the bottom is related to the cardinell reservoir or perhaps the construction of cardinell street. i have never found anything with solid dates of when the cardinell reservoir was built OR filled in, but it appears to be gone by the 1890.

  7. while digging around in something else, i am pretty sure i have identified this location; the large street on the right is 8th. the small mansarded house is on the nw corner of 8th and college. the large building with a tower should be the madison school. the 1879 glover map has a few inconsistencies (the house with square barn to west of schoolat 9th and jefferson on map appears to be further south in pic) but it otherwise lines up very well.

  8. @wl: It was 8th at the time the photo was taken and on old maps, but that street became 10th after the original street renaming. The school with the clock tower was between present day 10th and Park (i.e. it was on the block immediately west of the park blocks on Jefferson). The large house with the portico and the mansard roof house can be seen (with some difficulty) on this previous post of an illustrated map from 1890. The park blocks can be seen on the map and the next street one block west of the park blocks was at that time called 8th, but which is clearly 10th today.

    Given all that, the street this photo is looking almost directly down is today SW 10th Ave.

  9. sorry brian, i posted before caffeine! i do know that 8th is now 10th (but will admit mebbee forgot this morning!); i was commenting on MTNs speculations. the 1879 birdseye matches enough to say yes, 10th and college at that mansarded house. and it is almost certain that the photo depicts construction or enlargement of the cardinell reservoir; there is a small section of elevated track for hauling off the tailings. the 1901 sanborn vol 1 sheet 39 clearly has an area designated ‘abandoned reservoir.’ this puts the reservoir at 1249 sw cardinell. wonder if they have a wet basement! at the apex of the street’s curve is an old inlet which is allegedly part of the reservoir, now an entrance to a buried sewer.

    the stream that fed the reservoir is intermittent (perched water), so wasn’t reliable and no doubt any liquid left in the pool by end of summer was funky . this photo shows a masonry structure just down the hill, but it is not the same one currently on sw 10th. i’m trying to find out if the new gatehouse connected to the old reservoir and fed to the new one on lincoln, or if it bypassed cardinelll by the time of construction.

  10. This is very interesting and maybe it’s why my daughter likes history so much, especially PDX history.

    I may go up to the gatehouse this week and look for inlets on the uphill side, and try to see it is appears to align with the location of the old Cardinell reservoir. There’s a ton of vegetation up there, so I’m not sure I can see anything, and also they may have always been below ground, and hence invisible.

    Related question: if the down hill pipes, still visible, supplied a given area, where do you suppose they went? To me it looks as if they did not go to the reservoir near modern 8th Ave, they’d have a tough time making it there. But still…

    Maybe 20 years ago there was a miniature robot exploration of the Great Pyramid–they ran the small robot thru bore holes, etc. That’s what we need to explore the inlet/outlet pipes! :^)

Comments are closed.