Portland Aerial, 1955

This great top-down photo is likely an aerial survey photo and covers a wide area. We can see from north of the future Fremont Bridge south to the Ross Island Bridge, and from about 19th Avenue on the west side to 14th on the east side. No freeways had intruded on Portland’s landscape yet. Bonus points if you can find the airplane flying between the camera and the ground.

(City of Portland Archives)

26 thoughts on “Portland Aerial, 1955

  1. If I’m right, I live within walking distance of where the airplane’s flying! Way cool. But I can’t figure out that X bridge. Help, y’all. Thanks.

  2. The “X” bridge is the original Morrison, which pivoted on its footings. The new Morrision, a few years away would be disastrous to the area immediately west of it, taking out whole blocks for its access loops.
    Check out the large ship docked near Zidell- looks to me like a U.S. Navy cruiser about to be scrapped.

  3. Dose anyone know what that round structure on the east side, right about where the Fremont bridge now crosses is?

  4. Whats the vacant blocks south of Broadway & e. of Union ? Possibly demolished to prep for the Lloyd center, Or never originally built upon??
    I would not think so. Never given thought to it if a whole residential area was removed for building Lloyd Center…

  5. @Dennis: That appears to be a locomotive roundhouse, in the Union Pacific rail yards. I noticed that too…very cool.

  6. A couple of thoughts– Some must have felt that they had plenty of freeways, with 99W coming down Interstate, across the Steel Bridge, and past downtown on Harbor Drive on its way to Barbur.

    Also, it is easy for me to imagine highway planners looking at the eastside waterfront and saying, Look at all that wasted land. No one wants it, it is not economically valuable. Good place for a freeway.

  7. I’m about 99% sure that the two airplanes are Navy/Marine Beechcraft T-34B’s, called Mentors. These were trainers that the Navy started using in 1955, while the AF had been using them since 1953. The midnight blue color scheme threw me off at first because I thought that the Navy had transitioned out of that paint job the previous year, but in fact it was late ’55 into ’56 that they finally completed repainting everything to the light grey/white that all planes carried from that point on.
    Their direction points to PDX, though their altitude is a little high for landing at this point. So either crossing over for a fix or going to enter their downwind leg for a landing to the West would be my guess.

  8. This photo appears to be a composite While true that the freeways don’t intrude the photo, however the Banfield, I 80N at that time was completed and open from 39th st east to Troutdale. From the two ships at the seawall i get the impression that the Rose Fleet is just arriving or departing, which would give a possible explanation for the presence of the two navel aircraft. That vessel tied off North of Burnside is very large. Bigger than the one at Zidell
    Ka Nelson is correct about the destruction preceding the Lloyd center although to be fair many serviceable homes and buildings were moved to other locations. Interesting view.

  9. Webmaster Extraordinaire! This is (so far) the best shot (IMHO). Just 7 years before I arrived at Bess Kaiser!

  10. So much nostalgia crammed into one picture. Just one note I’ll make as an example, there are two railroad locomotive roundhouses/turntables in the picture, one on each side of the river.

  11. On the eastbank, north of the burnside bridge, what’s the long white thing parallel to the land.

    I didn’t grow up in Portland but have lived here 16 years and love history and old photos.

    Dan, thank you for your amazing website.

  12. On an earlier VP post there is a close up picture of that dock thing out in the river north of the Burnside bridge. It’s connected to the rail yard and has two railroad tracks on it. Looks like some sort of way of loading or unloading rail cars to ships.

  13. So wait, southbound on Union you had to go UNDER the Burnside bridge to proceed south? Am I reading those markings right?

    And the Ross Island bridge used to have a much more complete connection to McLoughlin.

    What do you suppose the odd diagonal line is around Burnside and Park? Looks a little large for a construction crane. Scratch on the negative?


  14. Brian-that’s probably the AT&T Building under construction. The architecture is from that era.

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  16. Just a note: If I’m not mistaken that complex just south of what would be the Banfield is Benson High School and the 3rd building to the west is, I believe, American Sheet Metal Shop. My dad worked there from the time he came home from the war until the mid 1960’s

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