Downtown Core Area, 1963

This 1963 aerial photo of the downtown core area shows quite a few buildings we’ve spotlighted here on Vintage Portland. Madison Park Apartments, Ahavai Sholom Synagogue, Cole McElroy’s Spanish Ball Room, the view from City Hall, and Victorian homes along SW Broadway are but just a few. One intriguing remnant is in the lower left corner, the building on SW Clay between SW Park and 10th, the only building remaining on the block. Any idea what that was?

(City of Portland Archives)

18 thoughts on “Downtown Core Area, 1963

  1. The Benson Tower condominium currently stands at that corner, and from what I know regarding it, it is named after Simon Benson, and that lot was the site of his residence at one time. Though, he did move to California around 1920, so I’m not sure if the building standing in the picture was the same as when he lived there.

  2. You can see the scaffolding around Central Lutheran Church’s tower where workers are repairing the damage from the Columbus Day Storm.

  3. The Journal buildings towers used to light up at night. You can see them in that film noir movie they made in PDX in the 50’s.

  4. They don’t light up the Journal bldg anymore?

    When I was a wayward youth we used to climb up to the Journal roof on the fire escape… you could get up on the fire escape of the fast food joint on the corner (Arctic Circle?) and then climb across to the Journal escape. I think I still have one of those light bulbs somewhere.

  5. Was that remaining building on the corner, the King Albert or another PSU housing? My husband lived there during his college years!
    I lived downtown for 2 years. Our apartment was on Mill St. and it can be seen on the bottom lower right corner, now the PSU’s 4 story parking structure! I could see the Christmas rays of lights changed from red to green, top of the Pacific Power building! I watched those lights, in the middle of the night, sitting on my cozy, velvet, soft, burgundy chair, in the dark, eating grapes. I still have a B&W photo of my 1st snow, taken from the side of our apt. Victorian 4-story building, melting away! We have an attic, filled of furnitures. I went there from time, and we have a basement. We became caretakers during our last year. I was the manager’s assistant, showing rooms to renters, taking rents, giving them receipts, feeding the manager’s parrot when she’s gone. Coming from Asia @ 13, I was in HEAVEN! I’ve never been to a city, until we came here in the USA, that year!

  6. In 1963: The Standard Plaza (16 flrs) SW 6th & Madison & The Hilton (22 flrs) SW 6th & Salmon stood out in the Portland skyline. The Standard Plaza had a great weather beacon that I relied upon as a kid.

    Wish I could remember the lone bldg on Clay. In 1964 I used to skateboard in front of Old Main (Portland State-1 1/2 blocks away). Too bad I can’t get street level detail from this photo. I Who knows, I might be in the photo, or I might be able to see the German Shepard that bit me at the Parking lot on 6th & Clay.

  7. It’s pretty easy to see where the Banfield/I-5 would have been using that west bound ramp on the Morrison Bridge by 1964

  8. It’s interesting to see the Hawthorne Bridge ramps (just visible at middle right) with an off ramp heading north onto Front Ave. and a cloverleaf loop heading south on Harbor Drive. Part of these ramps are still there for use people walking or on bikes.

  9. Architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill had their Portland office in the Standard Plaza which they designed. They also designed the Hilton and went on to design Georgia Pacific, the Federal Office building and others. They used to let me – then in my early teens – visit their offices, They had a mock up of downtown Portland in the center of the office.
    Great photo, Dan!

  10. What’s the building between 4th/5th/Columbia/Clay? I see it’s still extant today but it looks like the exterior has some kind of issues in the old photo.

  11. Hahaha I see what you mean, that’s a good illusion.

    Does anybody else see what I mean about the exterior? Seems like there’s moss growing on it or something!

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