Union Station, 1918

Portland’s impressive Union Station is shown here in 1918, 22 years after its 1896 opening. The building itself has remained remarkably unchanged in 117 years but the forecourt, parking and roadways have changed many times over the years. The “Union Station” and “Go By Train” signs at the top of the clock tower were not installed until 1948.

A2004-002.571 Union Train Station 1918(City of Portland Archives)

7 thoughts on “Union Station, 1918

  1. This is a favourite of mine !
    About 1990 I had a job working in this building, Allowed me access into see the clockworks and up the rickety ladder to observation deck what is now behind the “Go by Train” sign. About 6″ thick of pigeon poop up there ! But a unusual view to Portland from a different angle. Btw, those little doors 1/2 way up the tower are basically a decoration. At one time they could open, but the standing platform is about 12″x24″ Not much. I suspect the higher up observation deck was used by station workers to look out for traffic if the telegraph system was for some reason faulty. Based on there not being a proper stairs from the clockroom on up, I don’t expect it was a normal practice for people to be up there.

    Just inside an entry to one of its basements was fitted with a “Blackout Switch” Obviously a WW2 modification to the electrical system to throw that switch opened at once all the contactors controlling the critical exterior exposed lights.
    I could go on….But a lot of interesting history. Happy its still here !

  2. This oddly sterile view that while providing a architectural record, at the same time is totally lacking in context seems to me be of a earlier date, much closer to 1896 than 1918, By the 1918 date at the height of the Great War this building would have presented a much more lived in appearance I would have thought, The sepia tones denote a earlier time and we see no evidence of a Broadway Bridge never mind the absence of vehicles. Hard to achieve in the pre~photoshop era. I’ve seen this photo reproduced in other places but not dated. Ed Culp’s “Stations West” , Caxton Press shows the southern end of the building covered in ivy by the time of the earliest autos. Just a guess but 1896 seems closer to the mark.

  3. Rod,

    The photo looks like a scan from a postcard. Perhaps, the photo dates to the late 1890’s, but the postcard itself is dated 1918?

  4. Yeah I think Rod is correct, at least it appears that this photo is far before 1918. Even on the Wikipedia page photo dated 1913, the ivy Rod mentions has already begun to cover that wall.

  5. I have so many fond memories of boarding the train for Tacoma, from Union Station in the 60’s. That station is beautiful and we are so lucky it is still there. My sister and I always rode in the “Dome Car” and took our Barbies along for the ride. The porter walked through the car with a basket of Wrigley’s gum. We thought we’d died and gone to heaven: free gum, Barbies and the Dome Car all in one day! BTW The Broadway Bridge was deliberately painted that red to match the colors of the Station.

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