Inner Northeast Portland Aerial, 1938

This is located just west of the aerial photo featured last week, and probably was taken on the same aerial survey in 1938. This view shows Sullivan’s Gulch passing under Union Avenue when trains were the only traffic up the gulch. But the sketches on this photo may indicate preliminary plans to route auto traffic up there also.

(City of Portland Archives)

10 thoughts on “Inner Northeast Portland Aerial, 1938

  1. The 1938 date jives with early interest in developing freeways for the Portland area. Those arrows may have been one concept for such a road. Every time I see images of the Convention Center/Rose Quarter area, i’m just blown away at how much was erased from the city.

  2. I suspect that the drawing over the photo had more to do with sewerage improvements than roadways. Not that I would sell our ancestors planning short, just that it would have taken incredible powers to have foreseen WW II and the resultant growth from the vantage point of 1938. No doubt some saw the war clouds but still.

    On the other hand @portlandpreservation I share your amazement at the resultant loss and still believe it could have been avoided had sanity prevailed in planning.

    Dan if you have a aerial from this era showing the East Side waterfront from the southwest quadrant immediately adjacent to this from say about SE Division I for one would be greatly interested in seeing it. Thank you for this very interesting view

  3. Sullivan’s Gulch: Has Portland Divided – On Civic Subject
    Whole Town’s Buzzing – Some Wrathfully – About Proposal to Transform Serpentine East Side Ravine Into Vehicular Highway

    Meanwhile, the city has rezoned the gulch to prevent construction of additional commercial buildings, and hold condemnation costs down if it is decided that a road should be built.

    Traffic will be diverted over both the Steel and Burnside bridges, although the latter will bear the major burden. Entrance and egress will be provided only near N.E. 12th avenue, Sandy boulevard and N.E. 82nd avenue.

    Opponents of the plan are equally as vociferously certain it will not work. They include … Providence hospital, which wants to make a $3,000,000 development in the gulch area; and Fred Meyer Inc., which as a $500,000 warehouse development under way at N.E. 44th avenue on the gulch. … Most outspoken critic of the plan is Fred Meyer…

    Sunday Oregonian, February 24, 1946, ½ page write up with a similar aerial view photo

  4. But I don’t think sewers would flow both directions…

    Interesting, it looks like all southbound traffic on Union was forced to turn right onto Burnside.

  5. @Tad. Excellent point. Boy is my face red. I guess i edited out two very important words in my opening sentence. It should of read ” would have had more to do with” as i was trying to assert that the scribblings on the photo were added at a much later date as oldoregon has most likely identified in his reply.

    rod looks at his feet and sighs.

    And yes through southbound traffic on Union was diverted via Couch to 3rd to Ankeny and back to Union this seems to have relieved left turns northbound from Union onto Burnside.

    Fred Meyer is alleged to have benefited greatly from his opposition to this proposal as he was able to build a smallish distribution center in the gulch and allegedly had the state do a land swap and pay for the much larger facility on Swan Island just a few years later. See for more information the series of articles about interlocking boards of directors and the State Highway Commission in the Willamette Week Newspaper in the 80’s Fred was alleged to be a regular Nostradamus as he some how was able to presciently predict where the state would locate off ramps and thus he was able to buy up suitable land for shopping centers in advance of the prices going up. Again, just hints and allegations only cited here for historical reference with out any other purpose. The reader is free to make his/her own inferences. Just saying.

  6. Thanks Rod – I see the old traffic configuration re:Burnside and Union was even stranger than I thought. how interesting the no-nonsense ways they implemented to make things work in the old days. Today they would probably propose a multi-million-dollar interchange and tear down half the block to solve the same problem.🙂

    As for ol’ Fred, given the corruption that Portland was known for in those days, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if there were some backroom dealings. On the other hand I guess it wouldn’t be too outlandish to claim that a guy like FM could have hired some smart people to analyze the public data and guess likely places for ramps to go.

    And I’m looking forward to Phil Stanford’s next book…🙂

  7. A few more words of wisdom from ol’Fred, from the same 2/24/1946 article. Perhaps he is just working on positioning himself for the future Swan Island swap Rod mentioned.

    from the article…

    “Most outspoken critic of the plan is Fred Meyer, whose stores dot Portland. He fears centralization of business in the already congested downtown area.
    “The problem is not to funnel traffic into Portland, but to divide it,” he said. “Traffic from the east is not heavy. There is no reason why it should not be fanned out over such existing streets as Fremont, Halsey, Broadway, Gilsan, Division and Sandy boulevard. Construction of the proposed Fremont bridge would answer the whole thing, since half the people enter the city from the northeast, anyway.”
    Meyer contends that large sums have been spend straightening highways, “ and now they want to spend a lot of money making a cooked one –that gulch is as crooked as a snake.”

  8. @Tad. Having only to provide infrastructure for just 300,000 or so people made decisions a little easier. That does not address the quality of decisions and therein lies the rub, methinks.

    I too look forward to that book.

    @oldoregon One man’s corruption is another man’s civic involvement. hee hee.

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