SW Front & Vine, c1929

This 1929 photo shows a row of magnificent cast-iron fronted buildings along the east side of SW Front Avenue at the foot of Vine Street. Vine no longer exists but is a part of Ankeny Plaza between Ankeny and Ash Streets. From the left, the buildings are Dodd Block (1888), Cooks’ Building (1882), Ankeny & Watson Building (1868), and Central Block (1879) on the corner at Ash Street. All were demolished in 1942.

A2009-009.2495 Looking east at SW Front between Ankeny & Ash 1929(City of Portland Archives)

18 thoughts on “SW Front & Vine, c1929

  1. This is one I highly recommend clicking on for the bigger version. It’s a high resolution scan so the detail is amazing.

  2. This shot looks through the ghost of another unique three sided building/block. The Bank of British Columbia, torn down in 1928 to create the dirt patch on the lower right.

  3. Jack, buildings for a freeway. Though it’s possible the cast iron elements of these buildings may have been melted down for the war effort.

  4. Note the green men in the arched pediments of the Cook Building. Very cool stuff. Does anyone know of any surviving green men architectural elements in Portland?

  5. For “Jim”- the best examples I know of are on the Dekum building at 3rd and Washington for green men and the “Auditorium” building at 920 SW 3rd, for green lions.

  6. I’m surprised the number man was not tagged in this post. Is that “P.F.D.” truck behind him a fire truck? Really great detail, indeed!

  7. So far I’ve found four names for this public space: Ankeny Park, Ankeny Plaza, Ankeny Square, and Ankeny Arcade.

    ‘Ankeny Park’ was established as a public green space in 1946. ‘Ankeny Square’ is inscribed on the archway near the Skidmore Fountain, at SW 1st and Ankeny. Reporters’ usage of ‘Ankeny Plaza’ and ‘Ankeny Arcade’ seem to refer to the block between SW 1st and Naito Parkway, but may include the paved spaces flanking Ankeny Street between SW 1st and SW 2nd.

    I thought sure that the facade details one on of the buildings in today’s photo would match the detail on the free-standing columns at SW 1st and Naito Parkway; likewise for the arch and supporting colums at SW 1st and Ankeny. They don’t. That’s because, according to Oregonian’s announcement (May 7, 1986) of the official dedication of ‘Ankeny Arcade’:

    “The arcade’s cast-iron arches and columns were salvaged from the historic Smith & Weston Building as an entranceway to the plaza”


    The Oregonian’s announcement (April 6, 1984) of the official opening of ‘Ankeny Park’ cites the sources of all the cast-iron architectural pieces installed in the renovation:

    “The cast-iron columns, arches and medallions in the plaza came from demolished bw1dings and blocks including the Smith-Watson Building, which stood on the site of One Main Place, the Dekum and Reed Block. the Ladd and Tilton Bank, the Old Oregon Furniture Manufacturing block, the Monastes Building, the McBreen Building and the Ladd Block”

  8. I remember hearing that someone back in the 1960’s and 1970’s was collecting old cast iron fronts from buildings and warehousing them . Does anyone know who that was and what happened to that collection?

  9. Carol,

    One of the main preservationists was Eric Ladd. He had a collection of cast iron remnants in “the community,” which I believe no longer exists. The Architectural Heritage Center continues to maintain, research and collect cast iron survivors.

  10. I heard at one point that the city has a bunch of pieces of cast iron from these buildings stored somewhere, but I do not know if that is true.

  11. Eric Ladd (no relation to the early civic leader and business magnate) authored a five page article, published in The Northwest Magazine in The Sunday Oregonian of March 21, 1971. He chronicles his rescue and relocation of houses, beginning in the 1950’s with the Kamm House, that were slated for demolition to make way for development. His overarching plan was to co-locate the rescued structures in what he dubbed ‘The Colony’, and envisioned as a commercial district that would evoke the experience of early Portland.

    An article in the The July 1, 1973 Oregonian reports on the local chapter of a new organization called Friends of Cast Iron Architecture. The mission of the organization was specifically focused on rescuing cast iron facades from buildings in the early Portland business district that were slated for demolition. The article reports that Friends of Cast Iron Architecture had secured support from civic-minded individuals and organizations. In particular, the City offered to store the rescued facades, as it was then in the planning stage for the revival of the district that began later in the decade.

  12. all where demolisehd no way all of them that just sucks them cold hearted humans hope they are serving time in Multnomah County jail !

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