SE Hawthorne Blvd, 1932

Long before an elevated ramp connected the Hawthorne Bridge with SE Grand Avenue, traffic on SE Hawthorne Blvd traveled at grade level. Discussion is needed on “removing old trestle bents” at the bottom of this photo. This view looks west on Hawthorne from SE 3rd Ave.; a tower and crossing signals indicate the railroad right-of-way on SE 1st. That billboard to the right could be advertising the 1932 movie “Ladies of the Big House” starring Sylvia Sidney.

A2000-025.285 Crew finished removing trestle bents on SE Hawthorne 1st to 3rd 1932(City of Portland Archives)

39 thoughts on “SE Hawthorne Blvd, 1932

  1. I saw Sylvia Sidney in the title role in “Auntie Mame” with a road company that played Portland in about 1959.

  2. Love this site for the things you can learn. I didn’t know what a ‘trestle bent’ was. Quick Google search, and now I’m wondering what elevated train ran over this street? Great photo of this area seldom seen before the elevated bridge ramp!

  3. The little “watchtower” on the left side of the street two blocks down was a lookout post for the person who operated the wig-wag signals at the railroad crossing. These little shacks were located at all the street crossings on the railroad all the way north past Stark. A very labor-intensive operation. The shacks and wig-wags weren’t replaced with the current automatic crossing gates until the early 1950s.

  4. Trestle bents might be part of those blocks being regraded. In the late 1800s, you’ll see (even on this site) a lot of trestles running north/south on the east side of the river, like, between current-day Water Ave. up to about Union Avenues. They seemed to run from about Hawthorn’ish up to Sullivan’s Gulch.

    No doubt there was a lot of ‘fill’ put into those swamplike blocks to give us the earth we have today that everything stands on there. By 1932, there may have been some last remnants of trestle that Public Works was removing.

  5. WAIT A MINUTE…those street signs LOOK like the blue 1933 signs (from the 1933 redistricting). Maybe this pic is 1933 / 1934? Most definitely several years pre-war. Did I ever tell you guys (and Roxanne) that I had a chance to ‘filch’ one of the final remaining ones under the Fremont Bridge under (I think) NW 14th? God, I wish I snagged it! It was there until at least 1980. It’s looooooooooong gone now. I’d love to have an old wooden ‘blue sign’ from the 1933 renumbering.

  6. So the white lettering on Blue background city of Portland street signs were put up at the same time as the great address renumbering? They are for sale around town. Saw one at rejuvo.I don’t get the caption on this photo. If this project was to fill in an old gulch and repace a trestle then wouldn’t the first thing you would do was to remove the trestle? The street is done. Tracks are down. Trestle should be long gone by this time in the construction project right? Was there a trestle going over Hawthorne? That would make more sense.

  7. Yes Mike the ‘blue’ signs were 1933 until they started to be replaced around 1960-1965 with our classic green metal ones. I don’t think I will ever get used to the newest style.

    Now, this area wasn’t a gulch, it was just a bunch of real low-lying land that flooded easily. The blocks were platted, but I’ve seen photos of elevated streets and possibly railroads. I always thought the north-south trestles were streets. Eventually, over the years these blocks were infilled with all sorts of stuff (maybe even old derelict sailing ships like in San Francisco), and then topped with a few feet of dirt.

    In this trestle-era, there wasn’t any high enough land until about 3rd, or even Union Avenue. Everything toward the river was prone to flooding as in the 1894 flood. Thus, trestles were built to get over that swampy, boggy, backwater.

  8. The area west of Grand Avenue between Clay Street and Sullivans Gulch was soft wetlands. Hawthorne (aka Asylum) Slough met the river where Stark St. is now. UPRR built their line down East First Avenue on 15 to 20 foot high wooden trestles in the 1880’s. Later streetcar companies built E-W trestles along Morrison, Belmont & Hawthorne. Wooden trestles don’t last long and they started to fail in a short time. Between 1904 and 1910 the entire area was filled by a number of companies. Pacific Bridge Co. dredged the river and filled between First & the river. One of the streetcar companies filled Third Ave near Alder with cars run at night over the streetcar lines. Search the term “East Side fills” on the Historical Oregonian archive on the library site for more info.

  9. I think the building on the foreground left in the old picture, at the corner of 2nd and Hawthorne, is still there! In Google Maps you just see a square building covered with metal siding. However, what explains that strange row of windows at the top of what would be the first floor. I believe they’re the “transom” windows at the top of the showroom windows on this old building. The garage door is in the right place too. PortlandMaps lists the existing building as having been built in 1904. It’s the same building, with the cornice and entry portico gone. The entrance door is in the same spot, just reduced in size. It’s all hiding behind that metal siding.

  10. Tressle bents are referring to the blocks themselves. They are basiclly replacing pavers that are laid in a tressle bent fasion, like mcdonald arches stacked ontop of another.

  11. Rod is right look at the picture. What are the workers doing? Replacing pavers down the street. Look at the piles of pavers. The photo had nothing to do with a wooden trestle.

  12. I would disagree with Rod and Mike and agree with Jim Wood. Trestle bent has a specific meaning and nowhere can I find a reference to it meaning anything but “a transverse frame supporting the ends of the stringers in adjacent spans of a trestle”. Given that we also know beyond any doubt that this portion of Hawthorne (see the map I linked to above) was in 1894 supported by a trestle, I’d say the only reasonable conclusion is that is what this project was removing.

    I’d guess the trestle itself was mostly gone (either cut off and/or buried under the paving as the surrounding east side was filled in earlier in the century) but at some point the rotting timbers may have caused problems needing a complete removal and then repaving.

  13. I think engineers refer to vertical bridge supports as bents.

    My analysis is this: first a trestle was built and the street built on it. Then fill was dumped over the trestle so that it was buried, and the street was rebuilt on the fill. Then the buried wood started to rot, causing the street to settle, so they are digging holes above the vertical members of the old trestle and pulling them out and refilling the holes with gravel or dirt.

  14. No way. You are going to pull a vertical part of the trestle out of the ground? Like it’s not connected to anything. It’s not a pole. If you were going to fill in a gilch the first thing you would do is remove the trestle.

  15. Regardless, a trestle bent means what it means, and it doesn’t mean paving stones, nor their arrangement. it is the support for a trestle. There were trestles on this stretch of Hawthorne in the past. There is still only one logical conclusion and it’s not that someone decided to invent a new use for a word used only at the exact spot where the real meaning of the word used to exist.

    Beyond that, at the 3rd Ave. end they were probably fairly short to begin with (we’re not talking a Sullivan’s Gulch type viaduct here) and could easily have been covered over with fill (it wasn’t a gulch that was filled in it was the entire low-lying east side west of about 3rd that was brought up to the level of the trestle). At some point it probably became worthwhile to remove whatever remnants remained burred by digging them up. We’re probably seeing the near end of the project in the above photo.

    In this photo you can see what looks to be the old Morrison St. trestle (Hawthorne is just out of view but the idea is the same) with the low-lying area west of 3rd. It’s not that hard to imagine some of that structure (particularly the foundations and lower part of the bents) being buried as fill was added.

  16. The trestles were long gone by then. As I said above, most of this area was filled by 1910. Some of the fills are more than 20 feet deep. Contrary to how we would do things today, the fill was dumped loosely from the trestles until the structure was almost buried, then the tops were cut off and the streets were paved. If drive on SE Alder between 2nd & 3rd you will notice how the sidewalks tilt away from the buildings. At SE Water you may notice that the sewer manholes stick up out of the pavement. The manholes were once flush with the streets but the entire area continues to subside. I’m betting your 1932 photograph is workman fixing the street as the trestle posts began to punch through the pavement.

  17. Ok now that makes sense the street due to the loose fill started to sink and the old trestle posts started to pop up so they dug around them and cut them off.

  18. A ‘THUMBS UP’ will indicate your longtime Portlander preference for still saying UNION Avenue (has nothing to do with the greatness of Dr. King, Jr.). Let’s see some ‘THUMBS-UP’ votes here…

  19. at oshu they have a couple of comparative signs showing present day eastside pdx with 1867 carlton watkins photo of same area,really highlights the change.

  20. Does anyone know when and by what authority the street became known as HAWTHORNE BOULEVARD rather than HAWTHORNE AVENUE? it was named ASYLUM STREET prior to April, 1888 and “U” Street before that. Thanks in advance sez Arr.

  21. Portland Names and Neighborhoods by Eugene E. Snyder c. 1979:

    “In 1864, Dr. J. C. Hawthorne built, at what are now SE 10th and Salmon streets, the “Oregon Hospital for the Insane.” An 1866 map shows a large tract, from 9th to 12th and from Taylor to Madison, labelled “Lunatic Asylum Grounds.” In honor of that institution, “U” Street was change to “Asylum Avenue,” not, perhaps the happiest choice for a street name. Dr. Hawthorne’s hospital served as the state asylum until 1883, when the State Hospital for the insane opened at Salem. After that, the name “Asylum” became even less suitable, and, in 1888, this street was made a namesake for Dr. Hawthorne.” (pg. 146)

    Based an Oregonian interview Dec. 24, 1891 – Committee to rename and rationalize the city’s street names (pg 57-E. Snyder)
    Recommendation item 4:
    “North-south streets would be called “avenues”, and east-west streets would be called “streets,” and highways running diagonally would be “roads”.

  22. I’m just guessing but I’d imagine it happened in 1932 when the City rationalized street names. That’s when we adopted the convention that streets run east-west and avenues run north-south. If you google “1932 Portland street names” you will probably find it.

  23. You’re spot on M8: March 1, 1933 by No. 63819.

    In that same time a few others changed like Barbur, Overlook, Portland and Terwilliger Blvd, SANDY ROAD became SANDY BOULEVARD in 1911.

    THANKS again Jim.

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