Union Avenue, 1929

A number man is standing outside the Union Furniture Company. According to the 1929 Polk Directory, the store was located at 555 Union Avenue. After the street renumbering it became 2703 NE Union Avenue (Martin Luther King Blvd.).


2703 NE Union Avenue, 1929: A2009-009.1065

2703 NE Union Avenue, 1929: A2009-009.1065


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17 thoughts on “Union Avenue, 1929

  1. What are those random cut-outs hanging in the windows? Pig, banana, parrot, pig, flamingo, fish. I’m curious how they fit into a furniture store.

  2. Above the Number Man is a little sign on the pole for “Public Library”. Must be pointing to the old library that is now Title Wave books. Great photo! Lynette, my guess is that the animal cut outs are for a children’s furniture display. So much stuff in a small storefront! I love it.

  3. By the streetward list of the porch next door, I say it was built before levels and rulers…maybe 19th c. thumb and eyeball carpentry.

  4. Hey Mike,

    I’d bet that the house is dead-level. Probably just a little distortion from the type of view-camera they used for these shots. (But on further inspection, the steps look a little off kilter!).

  5. Assuming this was onthe westside of the street, the house to the right of the store is a reverse floorplan of the house across the street, now converted to a sidewalk storefront (which we saw a few months back) …

  6. The business premises shown here (555 Union Ave) were occupied by many different business renters between 1908 and 1932; don’t know who the owner was or when it was built. The building served as a confectionary and notions shop (tobacco, candy, ice cream parlor) from at least 1908; it was known as “The Corner Bakery” in 1915, a grocery store in 1922. Mrs. Denia Parker operated the “Union Furniture Company” here from late 1920s until maybe 1932. One Noyes Babbit (sic) ran the next-door shoe repair shop until his death in 1928 (in his shop); Parker was executor of Babbit’s will and may have sublet the space to him. The city condemned the property in 1932, but the owner (?) agreed to make repairs, postponing condemnation until Dec. 1932 when the building was finally razed; repairs never made I suppose. By the 1950s into the 1960s the corner lot (at NE Union/MLK and NE Knott) served as a gas station and used car dealership. (Sources: Oregonian, Ore. Journal archives).

  7. If they also made furniture there, Ladders would be a natural addition to their production.
    Every household needs a ladder just as much as furniture.

  8. Just an FYI the “bubble level” or more officially the spirit level was invented in the 17th century, so I have to side with Dave that when built, the house was probably level. The stairs may have had a slight slant so water wouldn’t pool. Or the whole shebang is terribly out of plumb due to settling!

  9. Brian R.: If I remember correctly, those were telephone exchange boxes, but I might be wrong. In any case, lots going on in this photo.

  10. Interesting to me how beat up many of these buildings were way back when they were relatively new. When I see great old buildings of this vintage in rough shape, I think they must have been in such pristine shape long ago… This great site reminds me owners slacked on building maintenance back then too!

  11. Thanks Peter!
    I appreciate the reply. I really enjoy learning about what life was like back in those days.
    Have a great evening! Brian R

  12. Hey folks. What we see here in this photo is yet another example of lens distortion. In the early attempts to increase the speed of lenses (in order to stop action) compromises were tried and experimented with by lens grinders, Thus we see in these photos from the transition period between the wet glass plate era when lens speed was irrelevant and the invention of fast film emulsions a learning period for lens grinders. This could be better explained by a professionally trained photographer, I certainly am not one, I do know that more qualified viewers are out there and I beg them to come forward. After you’ve had your giggle, do the right thing.
    In lieu of that I offer the following link.
    These distortions reproduced on this site need only to be recognized for what they are and should not cause us to assume that all these buildings etc are out of plumb.
    Other recent glaring examples of this type of lens distortion on this site include the recent series on Fire House 19 and all date from this period of photographic development.
    Yes. I am in fact half a bubble off. Sorry.

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