West Side Waterfront, 1948

Vanport City wasn’t the only flood worry in 1948 (see yesterday’s post). City crews seen here were busy sandbagging along Portland’s west side sea wall two days before the Vanport disaster. Downtown was spared but some areas on both sides of the river weren’t so lucky. Here’s what it looked like a little downriver at the Broadway Bridge.

(City of Portland Archives)

11 thoughts on “West Side Waterfront, 1948

  1. I recall helping my sister to move to higher grown during the flood in the 90’s, Mayor Katz said something like, We are sandbagging and protecting downtown Portland, using all the city resources and the rest of the city was on it’s own!

    We learned that day, that down town Portland taxpayers are more important than the rest of the city and don’t count on the city during a disaster. Your on your own.

    Later she must have felt sorry or there was a back lash because city supplied piles of sand and bags at a few area, to use.

    But you had to supply the manpower, without city help.

  2. That’s odd NativePDX… I actually helped people sandbag in the Johnson Creek area, as well as other non-downtown parts of the city. Worked at Red Cross stations, as well. We must’ve been at two different floods. I didn’t know you were everywhere at once. You seem to post a lot of anti-government rants, which I think this is the wrong format for such a thing. You know, I hear Somalia is a Libertarian’s paradise… perhaps you’d be better suited there.

  3. One of the things they said in the Vanport tour yesterday was people forget the flood effected more then just Vanport. The Willamette also flooded as did the towns along the Columbia. They also said that unlike the flood in the 1990s, the 1946 flood lasted weeks and weeks.

  4. Agree with JSRG, this is not the forum for political and social commentary. I appreciate and enjoy NativePDX’s on-topic contributions but have had to bite my tongue on more than one occasion…

    On-topic: I’m surprised at the lack of lane striping on Harbor Drive. And is that a pedestrian underpass?

  5. I lived @ McCormick Pier from 1987-96′ We had two good sized floods there during that time. Why anybody would want to buy a condo on the bottom levels of buildings A-thru-G nowadays is absolutely beyond me. they were under water! I remember watching the river during the 96′ floor and it seemed “angry”..

    Great (!) place to live though when it wasn’t flooded!!

  6. Tad…my memory says “Yes” to your underpass question…and I want to say there was at least one more, but I can’t place its location right now, but for some reason, I thought there was one North of the Morrison Bridge and one South of the Morrison Bridge…that’s the older bridge, of course, the one that was built on some kind of pivoting contraption! Maybe the other underpass was just North the Journal Building, but my gut still says there was at least two.

  7. I vaguely remember a pedestrian underpass from the southwest corner of Front and Morrison under Front and Harbor Drive to the waterfront. It was in the sidewalk outside the hotel. This would have placed it south of the old Morrison bridge and north of the Journal building as Jim says, and out of frame here, but there may have been more.

  8. JustSomeRandomGuy

    I find it odd that you want to send me Somalia, that is a mess and has nothing to do with with a Libertarian’s paradise. I’m not a libertarian, then you tag me with anti-government rants.

    I know where I was during the flood in the 90’s, helping people move to higher grown and I recall what the Mayor said on the TV
    during a break, before they had distributed sand to neighborhoods, outside of down town, which we all found disturbing. I never claimed to be everywhere. I do know, at this time, we were told we have to find our own sand and bags.

    As you tell me this is the wrong format!


  9. About underpasses, there was one on the south side of Morrison but it went only under Front Ave. The railing around the stairs at the east end of it can be seen in this earlier VP post (you have to look closely as it’s almost hidden in the bushes in the center of the photo). As I mention in the comments to that photo I have a very distant but clear memory of it as a young child in the mid – late 70’s.

    You can see from other photos that back then that after passing under Front Ave. there was a path to where people would walk up the stairs and along the sidewalk of the old Morrison bridge over Harbor Dr. and then back down to the waterfront walkway seen here. In the earlier photo I linked to, you can see a temporary wooden walkway/bridge over Harbor Dr. that connected to the old Morrison Bridge concrete stairway which was left behind for many years even after the old bridge was demolished (I presume it was not removed until Harbor Dr. was removed).

    Also, in the comments to that earlier photo I posted links to both another photo showing the Morrison underpass from 1942, and a photo of another underpass of the same style (same railing and white tile) that still exists under SW Kelly at SW Arthur.

    As for this photo, no, that’s not an underpass, but one of several “notches” that used to exist in the seawall that (some of which at least) apparently had stairs down to the river level. You can see this one and others in this post and this post.

  10. Brian – Thanks for the refresher course. I’d forgotten we had some of this discussion before, but more is always good. Note also that at the time of this photo most of the seawall had solid (but removable) concrete railings. These were essentially waterproof so only certain areas needed to be sandbagged. The railings are now all open steel railings which necessitated the effort to shore them up with plywood in 1996.

  11. I wonder if the May Hardware later became the W.L. May Appliance parts company.

    And yes this is a place for local history, not for whining o rumors.

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