SW Harbor Dr & Front Ave, 1944

This 1944 photo shows where Harbor Drive and Front Avenue met at that time; we’re looking north. Southbound Harbor Drive emerges from the tunnel under Front on the left side. Front crosses over the tunnel in photo center, and Harbor Drive northbound angles off into the distance on the right. If you stood on the traffic island at Naito Parkway and Sheridan Street today, you’d be in just about the same spot this photographer stood, although I-405 traffic would be shooting by practically under your feet now.

(City of Portland Archives)

22 thoughts on “SW Harbor Dr & Front Ave, 1944

  1. Erg. The angle of this photo in relation to the Public Market building is giving me serious cognitive dissonance. Shouldn’t the Hawthorne Bridge be on the right side of the building. I’m fairly certain that’s not the Steel Bridge instead.

    On the other hand that’s a great sign for “Iron(?) Fireman Mfg. Co.” Unfortunately it looks like the building is the midst of demolition.

  2. Some interesting history in this photo.The Iron Fireman Co. was founded in Oregon and quickly became a large national company. The founders, T.H. Banfield and C.J Parker were leading citizens of their day. Banfield became a state highway commissioner, with the Banfield freeway (I-80) named after him. One of their former manufacturing buildings was purchased by Boeing and is now their East Portland plant. Note the Mobilgas ad and remember that in 1944 gasoline rationing was still going on. Many gasoline marketers still advertised heavily, even though their product was in short supply.

  3. BTW…Iron Fireman’s original product was an automatic coal stoker. Coal was commonly used for home heating in the early 1900’s and stoking your furnace with coal manually was a messy job. The Iron Fireman was the first successful automatic stoker.

  4. During WWII Iron Fireman also built an early prototype snowmobile at this facility for use with the famous 10th Mountain Division. It had an enclosed cab, etc. with an attached trailer for hauling ammo, equipment and some troops. It was tested extensively at Ft. Hood, Colorado but proved to be underpowered and tough to turn in tight situations . The U.S. Army then selected the “Weasel ” as standard equipment for the 10th Mountain troops. With the end of WWII many of the surplus ” Weasels” ended up at mainland ski resorts including Government Camp, Timberline, etc.

  5. So then, we’re just leaving Barbur Blvd…heading North into town…right? At least, that’s how I feel anyway…that and the memory of being told to sit down and be quiet!

  6. Doug Martin,

    Thank you. Of course you’re right. I had to wait until I got downtown this morning to get an overview. I was assuming the river was running on a diagonal following alongside Naito. Instead it’s running near perpendicular to our viewpoint here along northbound Harbor (duh) Drive. Therefore we can’t see either the Hawthorne or Morrison bridges as they’re hidden by the light colored building and trees on the right. The Steel Bridge is at a bend in the river and the foreshortened aspect of these old photos makes it appear closer than it really is.

    You know, just in case anyone else was as confused as I.

  7. re Hawthorne Bridge: You can just barely see part of the west tower of the Hawthorne Bridge on the left edge of the large white building. It comes up at an angle and joins the edge of the building right in the middle of line of 2nd floor windows.

  8. Did some sleuthing and it looks like the white overpass near the Journal building is the Hawthorne bridge as seen in this photo taken 5 years later.

    Tthe tunnel we see above appears to be the abandon one in the south center of the photo.

    an aerial of the region: This appears the intersection in the NE corner at the crosswalk.

  9. You see the tunnels in that photo and other links you posted are still there today. They abandoned it and now they are filling it before laying new MAX light rail in the Harbor area to South Water Front and new bridge.

  10. cubilist – In the top-down aerial view that shows the crosswalk, you can make out stairs that lead from Harbor Drive down to the stub ends of Caruthers, Sherman and Grant Streets. Those stairs are still there today, you can see each of them on Google street view.

  11. That can’t be the steel bridge. Look at the structure (house like) on top of it. That is the hawthorne bridge.

  12. Bailey, those windows are a crack-up! That could’ve made a killer haunted house at Halloween.

  13. As for the VP of lower SW Portland, I lived at 2307 SW 5th Ave from 1953-1960 and remember the area well. I was down on the area of the Harbor Drive tunnel as it connected to Hwy 99W and threw snow balls at the passing trucks in the winter of 57-58.

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