City Hall, 1940

Today we have an interior image from City Hall. We can see city employees loading records into the vault. Look at the size of some of those books! This image is from August 8, 1940, yet we still refer to some of those volumes today.


Employees Loading Files into Elevator, Aug. 8, 1940 : A2009-009.420

Employees Loading Files into Elevator, Aug. 8, 1940 : A2009-009.420


View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

10 thoughts on “City Hall, 1940

  1. Agreed with Caryn, that is a vault. Just to the right of the storage locker (No. 7) you can just see the inside edge of a vault door with locking pins. The door has been opened 180 degrees and most of it is hidden behind the storage locker, but you can clearly see the metallic edge with its locking pins.

  2. Looking at what I can make of the calendar it was November 1940. Time to start year end bookkeeping – one page at at time!

  3. @Mike: Sure looks like there’s a 31 on that calendar so it can’t be November. The only 31 day month that ended on a Saturday in 1940 was August.

  4. A few of them are definitely looking at someone in the vault. I thought they might be going to the ‘shredder’. 😉 Note the mimeograph machine, covered typewriter and phone device of some sort. Great pic.

  5. Great picture, I am with Brian on the month of August. Maybe the photo helped bolster the bid for WPA funds to find more space in those vaults. They started working on a request for WPA funds back in 1939.

    Ancient records of the city dating back 88 years to Portland’s birthday in 1851, will be indexed and organized under a WPA project which Commissioner Ormond R. Bean has recommended to the city council.

    The old records are now in the vaults on the first floor of the city hall in a state of much confusion because of the crowded condition there, report indicated. Under the plan, the city will pay $983 for materials, while the labor will be furnished by the WPA

    Commissioner Bean expected the project would make possible the sorting of the records in such a way that additional space may be obtained in the vaults.”
    The Sunday Oregonian, page 12, March 5th 1939

    “City Gets WPA Fund
    A WPA appropriation of $13,664 for rehabilitating city records has been approved, Representative Homer D. Angell has informed his office here. The money will be used for cleaning, sorting, arranging, filing and cataloging stored records of the various city departments for the period 1853 to January 1st 1936. Property also will be checked.”
    The Sunday Oregonian, page 19, September 29th, 1940

  6. I have been in that room for meeting before. If I remember right the staircase leads to another smaller vault. As a side note, we have the same telephone as in the picture. It was my wives parents phone.

  7. Hi there, thanks for the great tips by the way.
    However, I do have a question that I think you could answer for me.
    I was wondering what free accounting software or app can a small business without
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    would greatly appreciate it!

  8. ive been in city hall its so cool glazed bricks from 1895 and the copper stairs
    are very ornate and marbel colunms and solid oak doors !!

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