SE Foster Rd & 50th, 1937

There is a lot of good detail to pick out of this 1937 photo, especially if you’re an automobile fan. This view looks northwest on Foster where it curves to meet 50th Avenue at Powell Blvd. Fast food restaurants dominate most of the intersection today.

A2005-001.207 SE Foster Rd north on 50th 1937(City of Portland Archives)

16 thoughts on “SE Foster Rd & 50th, 1937

  1. Presently, there is a Taco Bell where the cabinet shop is in the photo. Before this, it was a Fina gas station (I used to work there). The car lot on the right is now a Burger King…………formerly the KFC Speck drive in.

  2. Wow…what a difference 75 years makes! Grew up 15 blocks west of here.

  3. Before that drive in was the KFC it was just plain The Speck drive in and originally Barts. It’s proximity to Franklin and Cleveland High Schools made for some interesting weekend nights in the parking lot in the ’50s during the Hot Rod car club era. Site of any number of tense confrontations that marred the otherwise delightful ambiance. Socially it had a different feel from the TicToc and Yaws, where the kids from Lincoln and Grant showed up driving Daddies car while the Speck and the nearby Buffalo Bills Drive-in had more of a edgy hot rod culture. Seems to me at this late date anyway. The cruise ins and custom car shows of today date from that era and those sort of settings. Waddles served that culture for the North Side kids and for the really hard core car nuts Jim Dandy’s way way out on Sandy was the place to show off your iron. After the war you could buy a lot of the cars shown here for ten or fifteen dollars and twenty five bucks would get you some really amazing rides. Gas was hovering around .20 cents a gallon and there were plenty of jobs in gas stations for instance or just picking berries to finance your ride. Comb out your duck tail, turn up your collar, lace up your blue suede shoes and take a drive out to 50th & Foster. No drivers license no insurance no problem. Your short is all chopped and channeled and just right for cruising and all those Franklin and Cleveland Beauties can’t wait.

    In my dreams.

  4. I always look forward to your commentary Rod. As a relatively recent transplant to Portland, your descriptive reminiscences add depth to my understanding of the city and often transport me to a time and place that existed before I did. Thank you! And thanks as always to Dan Davis for another great photo and caption. Is the building with the Rainier sign where the frame shop is now, or would it be north of Powell where the Taco Bell now stands?

  5. Rod, I wonder if you have ever read any of Albert Drakes articles or books. He grew up in this neighborhood in the late 40’s-50’s and has written about the hot rod and drive in culture of that time. My uncle did some custom auto painting in that area back then and had even painted one of Al’s cars.

  6. @Ian Thank you,

    @Mike. Sorry to say I don’t recall having read any of Mr. Drake. Will look into that. Thank you. To be clear I grew up at the edge of Montevilla but we were not limited by geography. And as for paint I was pretty handy with the grey primer. Usually the first thing we did was to primer out a perfectly good paint job because primer was cool and that was where it was Daddy-O. Rebellion against the chrome, the fender skirts, the Cadillac Hub caps and the practice of tail dragging (lowering the rear end) of the late forties I guess. We were into the Baris custom look as demonstrated in Hot Rod Mag. Or maybe come to think of it we were just into rebellion period like every other generation in the history of the planet.

  7. Rod, Liking the cars you mention, you might want to be at 12th and Hawthorne tomorrow (Sat.) from 6am to about noon. There is a large gathering of vintage cars including early customs and hot rods. It’s free, very casual and lots of fun!

  8. Mike, thanks for that, I live at Washington and 8th, I’ll definitely be making the short trek over there to check out some cars!

  9. The Chinese restaurant was “Mings”, and it was there just before The Speck…I went to Franklin and lived near 82nd and Foster…Good memories….

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