N Columbia & Oswego, c1932

This quaint and stylish gas station is identified as standing on N. Columbia Blvd. at Oswego Street. I find no reference to it on Sanborn maps and the curve of Columbia Blvd., complete with rails, doesn’t seem right to me. Can anyone confirm or refute this location?

A2009-009.2601 N Columbia & Oswego c1932(City of Portland Archives)

49 thoughts on “N Columbia & Oswego, c1932

  1. I believe I found the spot exactly, but, I cant get the link to work. It’s the OLD Columbia Blvd, (just a meter south of the new one) Where it makes a curve south just after Oswego. There is still a very impressive stand of fir trees.

  2. But the old Columbia Blvd did not make a curve, it continued on in the current Columbia Blvd right of way.

  3. However, I don’t think the location reference above is correct.
    Rather, I think this is actually the location. According to an old map of Portland, Columbia Blvd. used to turn and angle in towards St. John’s where present day Columbia Blvd. intersects with N. Portland Rd. Today this stretch is called Columbia Way. If you extend that it lines up with N. Lombard Way, where that street intersects both N Lombard St. and N Oswego St..

    So the Columbia Blvd. you see in the photo above is today N Lombard Way and the tracks you see are actually running along N. Lombard, whereas as far as I can tell, no street car tracks ever ran along where present day Columbia intersects Oswego St.

  4. The only section of Columbia Blvd that has a curve like that would be a short section of the old Columbia Blvd, which is now Columbia Ct. ( http://goo.gl/maps/CZwqy ) It’s likely not the location in the photo, for I have no idea why such a nice gas station would be sitting on this corner, but it’s all I could come up with. It’s too early and I need more coffee.

  5. Douge is right, looking at old maps that curve is pretty new. On the 1944 Sanborn map Lombard WAY where it intersects with Oswego was called Col – Blvd. and there are streetcar tracks curving there. Now I’m really confused.

  6. Anyone know what the red lines on the 1946 Pittmon map are? At first glance I thought they the city limits but at a a closer view they are not..

  7. Actually, Greg, I believe they are the boundary. For example, if you look just north of the intersection of NE Halsey and NE 92nd, you’ll see the line actually labeled “CITY BOUNDARY”.

  8. And if you follow the red line around the map and zoom in, you’ll see several more instances of the “CITY BOUNDARY” label as well.

  9. it’s not the Signal Station… completely different design… and this picture looks like it’s before 1939…

    also, I’m not convinced that the road curves there, many times the trolley tracks rounded out sharper corners…

  10. Brian, the city boundary was NE Fremont from 42 to 82nd ave up until the 70’s. If you went north of Fremont and east 82nd you had city limits signs. This map shows something completely different. I have only lived in this general area for the last 63 years in same 2 square miles.The lines don’t match this.. .

  11. Has anyone ever found the documents for the “numbers man” pictures. Every time one of these issues comes up, I feel like we should just reference the actual data.

  12. Greg, the map clearly labels the city boundaries. I just don’t see the map making that big of a mistake, since it isn’t even just a matter of a straight line, but makes a jog from Prescott to Fremont and back. That would be hard to just randomly get wrong. I suppose anything is possible, but I suspect the map is right.

    Also, as for east of 82nd, the city annexation map from 1915 shows that the area between 82nd and 92nd was mostly annexed to the city in 1909 so most of the boundary was near 92nd not 82nd. That this is completely consistent with the 1946 map is further evidence in its favor.

  13. The red line on the Pittmon map Brian referenced is definitely the city boundary at the time (it’s labeled that just like he said) but Greg is also right about the discrepancy in the northern boundary of Fremont if the annexation history map from portlandoregon.gov is correct:
    that map shows the little square between 42nd and 52nd being annexed sometime in the 1930’s. I wonder where the difference came from.

  14. Darn, I read that backwards apparently. The map I linked is actually in favor of Brian’s argument since the boundary would obviously move north with that annexation. Sorry about that.

  15. Thanks Kevin, I was looking for that map. That map looks completely consistent with the Pittmon map 1946 boundaries.

  16. Well, it looks like my memory is going. I could swear it was the way I described, but I looked at a couple of other maps including my 1960’s gas station map of Portland(remember these?) and I am wrong. My apologizes. Wonder what else I forgot?

  17. It’s all good, you’ve probably forgotten more than a lot of us have ever learned about the area Greg! More than me for sure!

  18. The very presence of the number man tells us that this is Portland and where ever he appears the street is about to be altered. Also of interest is the 42inch gauge of the trolley tracks (eyeball measurement). There is also trolley wire overhead. The only place that the Portland trolley system approached Columbia Blvd was at N Argyle from N Denver. Could this be preparatory to the construction of the N Denver flyover of Columbia Blvd I wonder.

  19. I like Brian’s suggestion that this is the northwest corner of Lombard at Oswego for these reasons:
    1) The Sanborn map (Portland+1908-Dec.1950vol3,1924-June1950,+Sheet+330.pdf) shows that the diagonal was originally named Columbia “BLVD.”
    2) Sanborn also shows there was a service station on that corner. (As a side note, the Google Maps aerial view shows the ghost footprint of the service station as shown on the Sanborn map.)
    3) The curve is accurate at this location.
    4) There was a trolley line passing passing this point, west on Lombard then southwest on Columbia Blvd.

  20. I believe Dan and Greg have likely nailed it but I wonder if either or both of the multistory buildings, far left and far right still exist, Both roof lines appear faintly as well as the three power poles that seem to connect them.

  21. Misty Chuinard-Chatterley: Here’s a trick that will help you post shorter Google map URLs. On the top, left side of the screen you’ll see a printer icon and a chain icon (it’s a link, get it?). If you click the chain you’ll get another window come up with the address. There’s a checkbox that has “Short URL” next to it. Click the box and you’ll get a shorter URL.

    Timah: I could be wrong about this but it’s my understanding that we’re not 100% sure who the numbers man (men?) and his photographer are or what they’re doing. There has been speculation that his/their work is related to street widening but no one knows for sure.

  22. I’ve always been curious about that odd bit of diagonal Lombard Way branching off of Lombard (nee Jersey) for a few blocks and lining up (but not connecting to) Columbia Way. I wonder if they once joined, or were intended to but never did?

  23. Dave, you may be right that it’s not 100% sure, but I’d say it’s stronger than speculation at this point. We’ve seen them in every case near properties that were affected by some kind of public works — mostly street widening projects, but also some complete takings in the Sandy extension cases. I’m pretty sure we’ve seen their car with city plates. I’d say we know with a high degree of confidence that they are involved in documenting properties that are losing some area, however small or large, to a public taking of some kind. So while we may not have seen some official document explaining them, I think it’s safe to say it’s not really a mystery at this point either.

  24. Tad, I was wondering that same thing. They may well have been connected at some point, as both stretches (Lombard Way and Columbia Way) were both labeled Columbia Blvd. on old maps. However, if they were it was long ago, as they are not connected even on this 1924 industrial map from an earlier VP post.

  25. I found this 1946 ad in The Oregonian that shows there once was an Associated Service Station on the corner of Lombard & Oswego, more evidence that this is the location.

  26. Dave,I have found, after switching to Chrome as my browser, that the link to a short url does not appear anymore. In fact, GoogleMaps looks very different in Chrome than it did using IE. Haven’t tried it with Firefox.

  27. Jill-o: that’s the “new” Google Maps. The short URL is now under the “gear” icon at the lower right, then select “Share and Embed map”

  28. When I was young going to George School. The road to the north was Swift Blvd. (Now Columbia )

  29. This is located on the corner of Lombard St. and Charleston Ave. it is now Signal Pizza. The building has gone through multiple renovations and doesn’t look much like this picture anymore. When I was growing up in St. Johns, in the 80’s and 90’s, it was a flower shop. Then it was a gift shop for a short while around 2004. The intersection the article speaks of is actually one block east of where the gas station was. The Columbia Blvd. the article refers to is now called Lombard Way. It still has Columbia Blvd. stamped on the curb on the corner. This is actually a triangular intersection (caused by the curve of Lombard St.) and this is where Oswego, Lombard St. And Lombard Way all meet. The three businesses at this intersection are Kung Food Chinese restaurant, 7-11, and a storage complex (formerly Syd Dorn Chevrolet). Hope this clears up some confusion.

  30. @Dan Davis, the Associated Service Station you refer to was a different gas station that was located a half of a block east of Lombard St. and Charlston Ave. Just west of Richmond Ave. It is now a hookah lounge. While I was growing up, it was a bank, a coffee shop, and a BBQ restaurant.

  31. I have a Oregon Then and Now Book. With the same gas station That Steven Is talking about. They do no match. Sorry Steven not the right place yet.

  32. @Ellen, I’m positive of the locations of both gas stations, what they looked like, and their relation in location to other buildings. Not sure of the book you have, but I have 3 volumes of books from The St. Johns Heritage Society that show multiple photos of both gas stations from different angles, also showing other buildings that are still there. Both gas station buildings have basically been completely rebuilt so they don’t look anything like they used to. My grandfather also remembers both stations quite well and he’s lived here since 1923. I grew up here and know the local history quite well.

  33. @Steven Arellano: This is NOT the station at Charleston.

    One: the Signal Pizza is on the south side of the street meaning this photo would have to be looking east. Look at the man’s shadow — if you were right it would be pointing almost due south, which is quite impossible in Portland.

    Two: The “Columbia Blvd” sign is clearly visible in the photo! I am sure Portland didn’t have a street sign in the wrong place and we know exactly where a street that used to be named Columbia Blvd. intersects with Lombard: it’s the Lombard Way, Oswego, Lombard intersection.

    Three: The photo is labeled Oswego and Columbia — fitting the evidence of the street sign visible in the photo which is nowhere near Charleston.

    Four: The curve in the track is clearly and obviously immediately adjacent to the service station in question (i.e. the road is curving right in front of it). At the Charleston location, the curve in Lombard is half a block away (it doesn’t start curving until well past the station , which as noted is on the wrong side of the street anyway).

    Five: Dan Davis found irrefutable proof that there was an Associated station on the corner of “N Lombard and Oswego sts”, right where I claim this is — did you read the 1946 ad in his link?? Was the guy placing the ad wrong too? It is most certainly NOT “just west of Richmond”.

    Six: The Sanborn map footprint fits this location, as Dan Davis pointed out.

    So no, it is NOT the Signal Pizza station on Charleston (the visible Columbia Blvd. sign is absolutely conclusive proof of this fact alone).

    And yes, we already know exactly where it was from the combination of evidence cited above.

  34. This corner is now the proud home of a brand spankin’ new 7-11. Along with the others in the area, one now need not walk more than a few blocks for their all-day roasted hot dogs, cheeze-sauce nachos, $5 large pizza, or barrel-o-slushie.

    Somehow, though, I don’t think that’s what was in mind when 20 minute neighborhoods were conceived.

  35. Pingback: SE 52nd Ave & Foster, 1937 | Vintage Portland

  36. Seems like it was near the current “Kung Food.” Or as stated, the new 7-11. Seems like all the details have been covered recently by “Brian.”

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