SW Stark from 6th, 1939

Parking meters in 1939 didn’t demand $1.60 and hour like they do today but they still had to be fed. The gentleman in the white pants seems to be servicing one. This view west on SW Stark from 6th towards Broadway shows the old Imperial Hotel (now Hotel Lucia) on the near left with Rucker’s Coffee Cup across Broadway.

(City of Portland Archives)

24 thoughts on “SW Stark from 6th, 1939

  1. That’s exactly what they were for, Bill. There were still a lot of them around in the ’60s. They were usually tinted a violet color. Are there any left downtown now?
    Great period photo!

  2. It’s amazing the depth of field you get with these old photos compared to the Google streetview. After Hotel Lucia on the left, are the Liberty Theater (demolished), the Columbia Building (demolished and replaced with O’Bryant Square), then the Pittock Block (with the Town Tavern sign), the Ace Hotel, and finally the Mark Spencer (under its original name. the Nortonia).

    Very cool photo. Thanks Dan.

  3. @Chuck – Yes I have seen them all around downtown. A lot of them are covered but you can still see the outline of the shapes in the sidewalk.

  4. Yeah those glass inserts start out clear and become purple from sun light just like old bottles from the turn of the century do. This was due to the chemical manganese which was added to the glass. Manganese was removed from glass later on.

  5. I remember those glass bricks encased in the sidewalks. They were really slick when wet, which in Portland was from October through July. I still remember one evening in the 1950’s when I saw a classy woman in high heels clutching the side of a building to keep from falling down as she proceeded along a sidewalk with the glass bricks. I seem to recall there were still some left somewhere, by the Galleria comes to mind.

  6. Thanks for the cool info on the sidewalk prisms everyone! I’ve always been curious about those. For those interested in seeing an example of these prisms that still exist, check out the stretch of sidewalk along SE Grand Ave in front of Shleifer Furniture Co.

  7. @drtlm27 Great blog! I’m glad to see you took note of several of the prism lights on SE Grand, as well. That’s unfortunate that the new street car line has devoured many of them up. I’ll definitely have to bookmark your page for future readings.

  8. Re: Ralph Kramden’s and drtlm27’s comments above…

    Yes, The ‘Galleria’ building still had a few panels left in the sidewalk (Alder Street facade) until earlier this year, when they were removed for the remodel (new Target store’s loading docks). Good news is that the panels are *supposed* to be salvaged and reused on the building’s interior (as lobby artwork)… or at least that was the last plan I know of… but they won’t be reinstalled in the sidewalk.

  9. Re: Brian That was my understanding that the loading dock ones were lost but that the others would remain. I looked in the holes the panels were dropped and glass busted. I called the city was told that the SHPO had wanted them saved but that was not the current plan-I’d love to talk to “City Hall” and I want to be up to date. I can’t fathom that the glass I saw was being salvaged. I’ll try to post more images. I’d love to know that some part of them were saved. If you go to the after party of the Archive Crawl on Oct. 6th you can sit in Al’s Den and look up at the bottle glass style sidewalk vault lights. More images on this post-

  10. Used to see entire blocks of sidewalk covered with these things.
    It was a really cool lighting effect seeing the sidewalks glow at night when somebody had their basement lights switched on.

  11. I worked in the Galleria parking garage in its basement. I’m not sure what the rooms were like originally but the place below the glass blocks were small, dingy, dirty, mostly unused, storage room spaces. I really hate to see those sidewalk windows go though. When I was a kid I’d walk over them and wonder what amazing and mysterious things might going on below them.

  12. I remember some on First Ave. outside Cal’s Books and Wares. Does anyone here remember Cal’s? Only their daughter, Dana, is left somewhere running a similar ‘junk’ and book store.

  13. If you go into the basement bar at The Ringler’s Annex on W. Burnside, you can see these prisms in full effect. They bring in a nice glow and look good doing it! I’d wait until Spring, though…

  14. Are there any of the sdewalk opening freight elevators left? I remember them from when I was a kid and teenager. Kind of funny, I used to be downtown almost every night cruising Broadway in the late 60’s-early 70’s but haven’t been there in almost 20 years now. There is no compelling reason for me to go there.

  15. I remember Cals Books and Wares. Cal was a really cool guy and he had some great antiques. I used to go into his basement and go through his many thousands of 78 records. Good Memories!!

  16. Jim, thank you for your comment! I was thinking that the dark building with the external stairs must be a theater… now I know, I was looking at what is most probably the exit of the Liberty theater.

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