SE Hawthorne & Grand, 1938

Rush hour 1938-style. Traffic streams east on SE Hawthorne Blvd. at Grand Avenue as people leave the city, shadows indicating a summertime evening rush hour. The photo would have been taken from the five-story New Sargent Hotel on the north side of Hawthorne.

(City of Portland Archives)

19 thoughts on “SE Hawthorne & Grand, 1938

  1. That Dig a Pony place in on Morrison, not Hawthorne. I went there once and won’t be going back because I found the food not to my liking, the music too loud, and the drink not very good either. Maybe I’m too old for that sort of place now.

  2. Lynette, yes this is looking at the block where BK is located but the part of the block we’re looking at (SW corner of Hawthorne and Grand) is now parking lot. Here’s a street-view looking at the same spot today albeit from ground level:×369

  3. Two interesting things:

    The large black car in the center of the photo is a Pierce-Arrow (two dead giveaways: fenders with integral headlamps, and the “archer” hood ornament). There probably weren’t many of these on the road in 1938, since they were quite expensive and that was the year that the Pierce factory closed for good. I’m the proud owner of a 1926 Pierce-Arrow, but mine’s not nearly this fancy or shiny!

    Also, the box underneath the traffic light: does it say “News Boy Blind Elmer?”

  4. About 20 years before the viaducts changed the streetscape here.

    In the years before burger king parking lot flattened them, the buildings (don’t know if the same ones pictured here) housed a lesbian bar, and then a strip club after that. The sidewalk leading to those businesses was tucked between the buildings and the bridge approach viaduct, which gave the place a back alley, under the bridge kind of feel.

    When the Hawthorne Bridge was closed for its several year refurbishment, one of the buildings was the canvas for a large guerilla artwork – not graffiti tags, but more comic book-like art.

  5. I think the lesbian bar was called Round Midnight?
    and at that same time I think the building on the
    corner was a funky used book store.

  6. You are right dead on the mark about that Pierce Arrow. Really choice. Makes me wonder if it or it’s occupant was the reason for this photo.

  7. After spending some time in the Oregonian Historical Archive database on the Multnomah County Library’s Web page and reading bits of news and ads about the New Sargent Hotel, originally mentioned in the post, I can’t imagine that someone was there on purpose to photograph the Pierce Arrow’s occupant. Pretty interesting stuff in the archive.

  8. @Dan, I think it does indeed say “News Boy Blind Elmer.”
    And an online MCL Historical Oregonian search reveals that he ran into some bad luck in later years:

    Police Wednesday sought persons who recently stole the newsrack of Elmer Tatro, along with the sign on top of it—”Blind Elmer – Please Help the Blind.” The rack was taken from the corner of SW 6th Ave. and Morrison St.’

    And on 10-11-1960:
    “Blind Vendor Theft Victim:
    Blind Elmer, newspaper vendor at SW 6th Ave. and Morrison St., reported Monday somebody had stolen his coin box with nothing in it.”

    And the sign top right above the watch store says “Dr G.E. Buck, Physician, Surgeon”…?

  9. Aaron, on the MCL Historical Oregonian, there’s an article (Surgeon Arrested When Woman Dies: Physician Held Following State Charges, Dr. G. H. Buck Accused, Illegal Operation With Fatal Results to Patient Alleged and Bail Set at $5000.) It is a December 19, 1930, article. In the statement she made before she died, Helen Cleator, 20, said that Dr. Buck suggested that she register at the New Sargent Hotel as Mrs. Jones. From the article “The operation later was performed and the evidence removed by the nurse, it is alleged. She was left alone in the room, but her pain became so acute she crawled to Dr. Buck’s office seeking relief. Friday she was removed to the hospital.” From reading the entire article, it is revealed that the doctor stated she had tried to perform the operation on herself, causing septicemia, and that she came to him for treatment. It is a very interesting article.

    I can’t imagine how she was able to crawl from a room in a 5-story hotel and across the street, but that’s what the article says. The closeness of the name as you believe it reads on what looks like a neon sign and the name in this article is amazing.

    I ran out of time and didn’t get to search for the resolution of the case.

    Thanks for that info about Blind Newsboy Elmer!

  10. @Lynette: Fascinating and sad story. A small yet compelling glimpse back to another era medically, socially, and legally all in that one short article.

  11. @Lynette: Aha! Sign must indeed say “G.H. Buck.” That’s a sad tale; amazing his practice survived.

    I’m just waiting for a new indie pop band, “Blind Newsboy Elmer”. 🙂

  12. Does anyone have a photo of the Sargent Hotel ?
    Please send if you have one. My great uncle was the manager in 1917.

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