30 thoughts on “Union Avenue, 1929

  1. Interesting. Must have been some hand washing setup. the first automated car washes came out in the mid – forties? Great pic!

  2. Wow! Where did all of the buildings go? Old Union Avenue used to be full of buildings housing small businesses.

  3. The building does seem to have changed quite a bit – Portlandmaps says it is ‘vacant land.’

  4. @MaGillacuddy: That’s the wrong corner. The building in the photo is facing Union/MLK so that means it’s either the NW or the SE corner we’re looking at, depending on which side of Union that building was on. The building in your street-view is on the SE corner.

  5. Ugh — Above I meant to say “The building in your street-view is on the NE corner” — not SE. Too early still.

  6. brian, take your first image and pan right – that vacant lot with the for sale sign is the location of this (former) building.

  7. rotoway was at 11 ne union – where they are putting the oddly-named ‘fair-haired dumbbell’ apartments. gillespie system was an automated car laundry, just made in 1928. portland was on the cutting edge!

    ps – does anyone else think the name of that apartment bldg is just another way of saying ‘dumb blonde?’ not very progressive of the developers!

  8. And how about the Speed Bowl car track at Twelvemile corner on one of the posters? Anyone remember that? A quick internet search turned up nothing.

  9. Karen Olson: Number men were city employees or contractees who held street address numbers in front an address. Here, the number man is harder to spot than usual. He is standing about a the corner of the building, just to the right of the Rotoway sign. If you enlarge that part of the photo, it will be clearer.

  10. @ Karen Olson, I could see the man but wasn’t sure if it was a mannequin or real man. I can’t believe there was a job like that! Why couldn’t they just put address on building?

  11. @Kathleen, I think you misunderstand.

    Think of it this way: the city is planning to do some work, maybe widening the street. They send out two men to document “before” photos of the impacted properties. One guy holds a number (so they know which property it is), the other one takes the photo.

    This site is full of these kind of photos from the city archives, so regulars all refer to these guys as “number men”. Welcome to the site!

  12. Hi WL,
    Just a quick clarification – The new building going up on the east side of the Burnside Bridge, where the rotoway stood, will resemble a dumbbell when finished. It’s being named after the design. It’s going to be an odd one!

  13. mrdavemac – yes, i knew the design was a dumbbell shape… just thought the ‘fair-haired’ part was kinda smirky…..

    when it is built, i am going to go stand in front of it with a number sign, and give the photo to the archives. that oughta confuse someone a hundred years from now!

  14. @ Tad, thanks for the clarification and @ MaGillicuddy, thanks for the link. From the 2 of you, I now understand the role of the “Number Man”.

  15. Admins: one of the tags you have listed for this pic is Riley Cat Restaurant. Pretty sure this should be the Alley Cat Restaurant.

  16. Given all the waves of tearing-down in that area, I’m surprised that building still stands, but then it’s also hard not to be disgusted at how the area’s buildings were allowed to deteriorate for decades. It’s a weird kind of managing expectations.

  17. ALLEY CAT. The font letter “A” could be confused with an “R” but there are definitely 2 “L’s”. Anyone remember the Alley Cat Restaurant?

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