Shoe Shop, c1931 – Help Us Out!

One would presume that this fellow is F.L. Carlo himself, proprietor of the F.L Carlo Shoe Shop. The location of the circa 1931 photo shoot has been lost, which gives the crack VP community another mystery to solve. The photo was probably taken by the same itinerant photographer who captured a number of other shop owners featured here before. Note that this time he’s captured his own image in the window!

A2008-001.34 Exterior view of F.L. Carlo Shoe Shop 1931(City of Portland Archives)

44 thoughts on “Shoe Shop, c1931 – Help Us Out!

  1. Link to itinerant photographs: City Auditor – Archives & Records Management – Auditor’s Historical Records – Irene Archer / Cody Bottorff photograph collection

    Maybe it’s across the street from this: Efiles – AP/17446 – A2008-001.31 : Exterior view of the Red and White Store : 718 NE Alberta between E 20th and 21st. You could try and match up the buildings on the other side of the streets, which are wide with low buildings, which I’d figure rules out downtown – and Union/Grand?

  2. The street number on the shoe shop is 749, which at least gives us something to work with. 64th and Foster is wayyyyyy away from baseline streets. You always have to zoom in on these photos, my first impression was that this looked like the building at 35th/Hawthorne that now houses some Thai eatery and Milligan’s bar, but then I saw the number and gave up on that theory.

    Of course perhaps someone moved the entire building in the meantime…

  3. Looks like the old ” Pete’s Shoe Repair ” shop on S.E. 39th & Division midway on the South side. There’s an OHSU building parking lot there now. But don’t know if the street renumbering address works out or not !!

  4. It also resembles the Bybee shoe repair shop that in the 1930s to 1950s was at 1665 SE Bybee Blvd., on the north side of the street just east of Milwaukie Ave. The number doesn’t agree, but it was on a slight slope to the right, which agrees with the mystery photo. The Corkscrew Wine Bar apparently occupies that space now. An unclear 1937 photo appears at:

  5. For some reason, I’m getting a St. Johns vibe from the photo. I’m not sure how that works with the pre-re-numbering of the streets. The building to the left of the shoe repair shop has a sign that ends in ARDS. That could mean billiards or cards. It has a drawn back interior curtain, so maybe billiards?

  6. Looks like KLR was definitely on the right trail. There is a multi-tenant commercial building on the north side of Alberta between 22nd and 23rd which looks like it could be the spot.

    A Sanborn fire map from 1924 shows address 749 at the east end of the structure.

    Google street view of the building today:,-122.642591&spn=0.011388,0.027874&sll=37.6,-95.665&sspn=51.945642,114.169922&hnear=NE+Alberta+St+%26+NE+22nd+Ave,+Portland,+Multnomah,+Oregon+97211&t=m&z=16&layer=c&cbll=45.55907,-122.642479&panoid=igQaNZwh5g0M6APn2akvUA&cbp=12,358.16,,0,4.91

  7. I kind of have to agree with pdxblake here. That building does look awfully similar to 6433 SE Foster. It also seems like some what of a coincidence that the shoe shop is called ‘F.L. Carlo’ and the current business residing there now is called ‘Bar Carlo’….Hmmmmm.

  8. I don’t think it’s the business on Bybee, as the brick front in the photo is different, and in checking the other photo of Bybee from the 1930s, the front of that building hasn’t changed.

  9. I lean toward agreement with KLR and Tony. A small ad in the 28 Sep 1931 edition of The Oregonian solicits offers for the purchase of a “5-store brick building at 749 Alberta at 22nd.” Also the horizontal brick courses (just to the left of the man in the photo) visible in the 1931 photo and in the Google street view of the contemporary storefronts on Alberta look sort of consistent.

  10. Tony’s building has a space currently housing Alladin Finishers Inc., the storefront of which looks like a mirror image of the shoe shop’s. I think this is a

    Funny thing, the Street View south of Alberta at Tony’s link has a brick building which is obscured by a Tri-Met bus, which vanishes when you move 3 feet east/west!

    Maybe the shoe store photo is a negative? Or it was next door and the entranceway was later remodeled? Either way I think it makes a strong case for this being the place.

    How did I do it? Would love to make some claim to having vast knowledge of PDX architecture at my command, but actually I just brought up the bookmarked link to the Archer/Bottorff photos and looked for anything listed as being in the 700-800 block range. 😉 The veteran posters here are the real experts on this stuff.

  11. In the window reflection on the right there seems to be
    a brick building with an arched roof line and to the left of
    that a billboard and then some residential looking structures.
    Then to the right of Mr. Carlo a picket fence.

  12. Here are sections of Sanborn fire maps from 1924 (available on the Multco Library site under “databases”).

    Sanborn 1924 - NE 22nd and Alberta

    It seems pretty clear that the building on Foster didn’t have an address in the range of “749” in 1924 when these maps were made. They were in the 6400 range.

    By contrast, the building on the NE corner of 22nd and Alberta did have a small store front with number 749. (Actually, the spaces are numbered twice for some reason, but either set contains a “749”)

  13. I believe JIm is correct about this photo and the rest of this series as well being in St Johns. I don’t have access to the Sanborn maps but I’ll wager all these shops are/were located in St Johns before the re-numbering there. Those earlier photos with the candy stores certainly fit the bill. Just a guess.

  14. Wait, I withdraw my theory. The Sanborn map would Carlo
    on the 2200 block of Alberta. Pay no attention to that man behind the keyboard.

  15. So, are we all stumped? I sure am. I will add that the billboard in the reflection and the ‘repairing while you wait’ might indicate being on a State Highway.

  16. The Sanborn map of 1924 that Tony posted shows no
    buildings across the street from where the Carlos
    shop may have been. The reflection in the Carlos window
    shows there is an older looking brick building and other structures
    across the street. unless they were built between 1924 and 1931
    they should not be there.

  17. In the 1929 city directory, Frank Carlo, printer, and Louis Carlo, bookbinder, lived together at 807 Gillette, which later became 3319 SW Front Ave. In 1930, only Louis Carlo is listed at 807 Gillette and his profession is now a shoemaker. In 1931, they are listed again at the same address. Frank is now a musician and Louis has gone back to bookbinding. They must have had a very short stint in the shoe business. Perhaps their shop was close to their residence?

  18. By browsing the ‘historic permits’ menu on, I see that 749 1/2 Alberta was a barber shop in 1932. This is theoretically out of frame to the right of the shoe shop in todays photo. In 1934, after the renumbering, 2211 Alberta housed a billiards hall, which would seem to explain the ‘ARDS’ sign that we see in the window to the left. That would put the shoe shop at roughly 2215 by todays numbering.

    With that said, I am skeptical about this location. The store front appears to be too narrow, and the fact that the buildings shown in the reflection do not appear on the 1924 Sanborn map seems odd. I suppose the light colored brick building shown in the window reflection could have been post 1924 construction, and it’s location would probably be where the empty lot is on the south side of the street. It’s the architectural details that are throwing me off. The only way it would work is if the doorway shown in the photo was now where this four panel window was located:

    Any thoughts?

  19. I’m convinced the Alberta street location is wrong. As pointed out above… the building front does not fit and the reflection is wrong and now… if the Carlo brothers lived at 3319 SW Front
    as Justin has posted. I have a hunch F. L. Carlo’s shop was in South Portland some where not too far from where he lived.

  20. Hmmm… very interesting puzzle. Somehow the pieces just don’t want to fit neatly.

    To be in SW Portland and have the address of 749, the building would need to be/have been on one of the north-south avenues between SW Porter and SW Woods. Unfortunately for our search, the ramps to the Ross Island Bridge and I-5 itself have taken out huge swaths of this area.

    Sanborn maps on Multcolib are also not much help, as they’re from 1908-09 for this part of the city.

  21. Renumbering-749E did not have a reassigned number, but appears to have been between 4633 and 4635 NE Fremont. The facade of the Starbucks was changed recently. Is there a chance…

  22. I took a long look at your photo Paul and I don’t think that is the same billboard.
    and there certainly is some sort of brick structure next to the billboard in the refection.
    also the telephone pole location doesn’t match well with the reflection.

  23. I just went to Google Street View for the Corkscrew Wine Bar per George’s suggestion. It really does look like this shop, though there are five windows above the facade instead of four (perhaps they were redone at some point?). The door/window slant is identical. He might be on to something. Here’s the Street View: and here’s the link he posted earlier (for your reference): It even has the awning…

  24. Also, I disagree that the brick is different. The only difference is the facade below the window, which looks to have been redone recently.

  25. Laura, while I agree that there are some similarities, if you look at the 1937 photo of the Bybee building you will notice that there are five window panes above the shop, as there are today. The window panes dividers and decorative glass panels on the ends also have not changed. The building on Bybee was built in 1929, and it’s unlikely that it was renovated between 1931 when our shoe shop picture was taken and 1937 when your linked photo was taken. It would be interesting if some of the address renumbering sleuths on here could tell us what the 1931 address would have been.

  26. The brick facade of the building on Bybee looks the same in the 1937 photo as it does today. I agree with Ian – it’s not the shoe shop building.

  27. I’m somewhat convinced that 749 Alberta is our spot. Between 1928 and 1932, the City Directories list an Emile Ciarlo as a shoe repairer at that address. No other shoe repair shops listed have the 749 address. The shop was vacant in 1933. As for the difference in the last name, I’ve seen variations in immigrant surnames in the directories before (versus, say newspaper accounts or advertisements), but I’m not sure what to make of the difference in initials. If that building is the existent one, though, it’s gone under a lot of remodel. The reflected streets cape also feels a little “off” to me, but I didn’t have time today to research any of the Sanborns or spend more time with the directories.

  28. This was a challenge!
    I think several people already called a lot of this. The business to the left is a pool hall, from the 1931 city directory – “Burnie Geo O Pool Room at 747 Alberta” – After renumbering it became 2209 NE Alberta. It was a tavern for decades with a reported murder of a patron upon exiting the door to the sidewalk.

    Also from the same directory, under “Shoe Repairers” is “Ciarlo Emilio 749 Alberta” – Today, the address would be 2215 NE Alberta. Emilio is about 58 in 1931, he also owned his own Shoe Repair shop in 1920.

    His son, Louie Ciarlo, in 1930, is a shoe maker in a Shoe repair shop. He was 22 in 1931.
    Emilio has another son named Frank. Sometimes their last name is spelled “Carlo”.

    In 1931, with the address of “749 Alberta, on 22nd” the whole building was listed for sale as a “5 store brick building”. It is the SW corner of 22nd and Alberta. The renumbering assigned 6 new addresses.

    The shoe shop is the 2nd from the last unit on the right. 749 & 749 ½, after renumbering became 2215 & 2217

  29. Well, it looks like the evidence for Alberta street is stacking up.
    I abandon my theory of another location, and surrender to the preponderance of evidence.

  30. I’m convinced it’s not the Bybee shop after all. The evidence presented by other readers is persuasive, and I’ve also taken another look at the window reflection, which doesn’t agree with the Bybee site as I knew it around 1950.

  31. The preponderance of evidence (most of the above) appears to confirm that the “F.L. Carlo” shoe repair shop occupied 749 E. Alberta — one of six narrow storefronts between 747 and 751 Alberta (per Sanborn map above) built in 1924 (PortlandMaps). This row of shops would correlate to present-day 2203-2217 NE Alberta. If so, the old shoe shop space is now occupied by a women’s clothing store at 2215 NE Alberta, which also uses adjacent space formerly occupied by the old pool parlor. I did a walk-by of this location yesterday, and the row of storefronts looks like the original 1924 superstructure (and is so dated on PortlandMaps), but substantially remodeled (prob. in the 1980s or 90s) with all new window frames and new facing plaster-work. The remodelers did preserve the original recessed entrances and the overhead transom-like windows with mullions, but the new framing surrounding the entrances is all modern and creates a different geometry from the historical photo showing the old entrance way into Carlo’s shop. The black tile-work at the base of the remodeled building (see Googlemaps) looks fairly old, but is probably a relic of an earlier remodel, maybe in the 1950s. The next-door building at 2223 NE Alberta is new (2006), but the narrow alley separating the two properties still exists (compare Sanborn map). Most of the city sidewalk paving looks fairly new and it’s tough to align with the pavement joints shown in the photo. Everything across the street from this location was built after 1931 and does not resemble any of the shop window reflections in the original photo. Most of the rest of the spaces in the original storefront row is now occupied by Ciao Vito restaurant.

  32. Thanks @Paul Mattlila for the old picture of 22nd and Alberta. @Tony, you had the early streetview link to the Alberta shop, I used the online directories at An early directory shows him in 1906 working as a boot blacker. It was a fun post!

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