Reservoir #2, c1909

Reservoir #2 once sat on the lower south slope of Mt. Tabor. Decommissioned in the 1980s, the filled-in reservoir is now a retirement community and the gatehouse shown at upper right is now a private residence at the corner of SE 60th and Division. The elevated railway was apparently for construction of reservoirs #5 and #6 farther up the hill.

(City of Portland Archives)

13 thoughts on “Reservoir #2, c1909

  1. Finally, MY neighborhood! I walked past this just last night. Just about every kid I know (my wife included) dreamed of turning the pump house their home. Do you have records of when the reservoir was emptied? I can’t remember it ever having water in it and I’ve lived in the area since the late 1970s. But just because I don’t remember it doesn’t mean it couldn’t have happened. There was a sloping ramp that went from one corner at the top, down to the floor of the reservoir. When no one was around, kids would also break in and ride bicycles or skateboards inside it or roll and old tire down the ramp. There were no trespassing signs so I never did and there were always a few tires at the bottom. One thing you can’t see is the single bubbler, water fountain on the sidewalk next to the pump house. I’ve seen a picture of men in suits and bowlers with women in hats and floor length dresses drinking from that fountain with the bicycles near by so I’m sure the fountain was installed around the same time. My mother told me around the time it was build, the reservoir was a popular place for couples to ride a bicycles to. The reservoir wasn’t actually filled in, instead what they did was knock holes in the sides to let cars in, removed the asphalt liner and put the retirement home down inside.

  2. The reservoir wasn’t really filled in. Maybe a little. The bottom of the reservoir was pretty much level with Division St. They just cut a gap in the wall facing Division, and built at that level. The wall along Division still exists for a ways east of 60th. I wonder where that flume is going, as it appears to cross over Division, and 61st, south of Division, as well. It also looks to be sloping downhill to the south.

  3. I am working on a history of South Tabor and would like to get a copy of this photo. Will I need a photo number beyond the 41 in the upper left hand corner?

    By the way, the reservoir was filled until about 1970 when people to the south worried that the south wall would fail because it was leaking.

  4. I lived in the area with my Grandmother in the late 60’s and it had water in it then. Back when you could still drive to the top of Mt. Tabor, I remember seeing a red fox up there, and a pheasant.

  5. The picture does say Res #5. I wonder if over the years the water bureau had a few smaller ones in other places in the city and just decomissioned them over the years like they did with this one (which eventually became Res #2)? I’ve only seen one other picture with this reservoir with water in it. But it was after today’s Reservoir’s 5 and 6 were built.

    I remember there being some talk of turning the pumphouse into a coffee shop, but obviously that never came to fruition.

  6. Wow, so glad I found this photo!

    What I find especially fascinating is the fact that this is 8 years after the Hawthorne streetcar line was extended to 60th and Division, and 2 years after it was extended further, all the way out to 74th and what is now SE Woodward. ( Zoomed in, I think I *see* a streetcar to the left of the Pump House.

    And yet, for all our modern crowing about how transit requires density, look at the LACK of density! This image does a long way to help explain what has always confused me–how there are pockets of much newer homes (30s, 40s, 50s) right along the old streetcar lines.

    Makes me think even more strongly how historic Portland presents a great model for the post-carbon metropolis–lots of close-in food production, mixed with housing, all linked by electric rail lines. With any luck, back to the future we will go!

  7. The picture definitely shows Res #2. It was the 2nd built and has always been #2. Whom-ever labeled the photo did so in error.

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