West Side Waterfront, 1924

The people enjoying our spectacular autumn weather along Tom McCall Waterfront Park would little recognize the same scene 90-some years ago. The dock at the foot of SW Jefferson Street then held barrels of tar for paving projects; the waterfront still has this physical configuration at the south end of the pavement and seawall. Riverplace Hotel and marina now replace Northwestern Electric’s Lincoln Plant in the distance.

A2009-009.1354 Dock at Municipal Paving Plant - foot of SW Jefferson St 1924(City of Portland Archives)

12 thoughts on “West Side Waterfront, 1924

  1. That’s a rare and beautiful shot. Our waterfront has sure seen a lot of transformations. I wonder if there are any shots pre-1845 Front St.? How it looked in the very ‘beginning’.

  2. Barrel makers or more correctly coopers made good money at a highly sought after trade until the beginning of the 20th. century. Almost everything that was carried by ships was in barrels. The tonnage of a ship was originally the number of tuns, or a certain size wooden barrel it could carry. None of the barrels in the picture are in very good condition, the are definitely “bottom of the barrel” barrels.

  3. Those broken barrels makes you wonder how many just got kicked ‘overboard’ and are still underwater today…..

  4. Rod: This is a city of Portland photo. It said City paving plant dock and the caption read ” bad shipment of asphalt” so don’t think it was roofing tar.

  5. Thanks for the explanation, Mike. Was that info on-line or did you need to make a trip to the Portland City Archives to find the caption?

    I was that speculating that the overturned barrels might have been a result of something more wild, as in a prohibition-era booze bust.

  6. Thanks Mike. Roofing was also shipped in barrels in this period so that clears that up. Tar was most usually used as paving to seal cracks in concrete and for chip sealing. Greg is correct about the coopers and Portland had several cooperages, prominent among them was Western Cooperage on the St.Johns waterfront.

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