NW Front Ave & Flanders, 1912

This rather Gothic industrial scene shows the Portland Gas Company complex in Northwest Portland in 1912. We’re facing southeast, with Front Avenue going off to the right and Flanders Street making its unimproved way to the Willamette River on the left. As rough as the Boss Saloon probably was, the little building seemed to have some nice architectural details. The 1894 Burnside Bridge can be seen in the background.

A2004-002.6815 Boss Saloon and Portland Gas at NW Flanders and Front 1912(City of Portland Archives)

25 thoughts on “NW Front Ave & Flanders, 1912

  1. From Wikipedia:
    To the praise of Gambrivius, that good British king
    That devis’d for the nation by the Welshmen’s tale
    Seventeen hundred years before Christ did spring
    The happy invention of a pot of good ale.

    —Attributed to Francis Beaumont, A Select Collection of English Songs with Their Original Airs, Vol. II[12][13][14]

  2. The building with the Gillen Chambers sign was the 1875 McCracken Block following by the 1882 Allen & Lewis Block just beyond. From Portland City Archive photos, it appears that the remaining brick structure(s) from the Gas Complex and the McCracken block did not survive the construction of the harbor wall. The Allen & Lewis Block survived a little longer, but it too was eventually demolished to make way for Harbor Drive.

  3. Wow! It DOES look like an old scene from industrial Great Britain at the turn of the 20th Century.
    The 5 cent cigar ad reminds me of a scene from “Never Give a Sucker an Even Break” where WC Fields bought 4 “Stinkeroos” for 5 cents.

  4. No wonder that area was contaminated! There was no DEQ back then, no OSHA, no air-quality regulations.

  5. “Cinders and Smoke Bring Complaint.
    Complaint is made that the smoke and oil cinders from the smokestack of the Portland Gas Works north of Burnside Bridge pour down on the people crossing the bridge on streetcars automobiles and other vehicles, causing serious inconvenience.
    The engineers in charge of the Burnside Bridge declare that the smoke and cinders are intolerable nuisance. The discharge from the smokestacks since oil was substituted for coal has been more offensive, and when the north wind blows the cinders and smoke are driven directly on the Burnside Bridge.

    Engineer Stutzman, who is on the bridge in the evening says that the nuisance may be abated by the company installing a suction blower to divert the smoke and cinders down into the river and away from the bridge.”
    – Morning Oregonian, June 6 1912, page 9

  6. Great pic. I really like that small “Boss Saloon” building. I’m sure it was a popular place after work and must have stories to tell. Does anyone know any more info on it.

  7. Portland at the height of it’s wealth and importance. The great transshipping port and industrial center of the West Coast. It was the second wealthiest city on the West Coast. More like about 5th or 6th today, our claim to fame today is naked bike rides.

  8. About half way down the page, you can see a picture of the front of the 3 sided building. The story includes how the building was used over the years, including the start of the Portland Merchants Exchange while it was still a bar. Picture is also in the Oregonian of 6 Dec 1954, along with some info on Boss Schenck’s Saloon,


  9. When you look at all that masonry you can only marvel that the area some how escaped a meaningful earthquake through the lifetime of those structures erected as they were over a active fault. A real good jolt could have potentially put the San Fransisco ’06 event in the shade.at just half the magnitude.

  10. oldoregon, thanks for the link to the Vallejo article. It’s good to see such an unlikely survivor of days past.

    It looks like the Boss saloon survived up to later than 1938. It doesn’t appear to have been in the way of the Harbor Drive project of the early 1940s.

    I think this photo may have been taken from the old gas storage tank. Another view is here. Both show the Boss Saloon building. Does anybody know when the storage tank was first constructed?

  11. Boss Schenck was the nickname of Cornelius Stryker Schenck. Born in Flatbush, Long Isl., NY in 1822; died in Portland in 1892. The sobriquet “Boss” was earned due to his reputation as a crack shot when hunting game birds — supposedly the best shot on the W. coast during the late 19th cent. He was well known and liked in outdoor sportsman circles of the period. He came west to Calif. for the gold rush and eventually settled in Portland. How he came to lend his name to the saloon is anybody’s guess. He worked for a time as an appraiser for the Port of Portland organization of that time, and probably was a member of the Mercantile Exchange, which was first based in the triangular saloon and ex-waiting room of the O&C Ferry. He earned an obituary full of his praises in the Oregonian in Nov. 1892, but no mention of the saloon. The bar was a target of frequent armed robberies in the early 1900s per Oregonian reports.

  12. There is a small brick building for the MAX electricals where the Boss Saloon seems to have been, just across from ODOT headquarters.

  13. Great to see photos of the original Burnside bridge, I have seen
    few photos of it to compare to the reused sections.

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