21 thoughts on “W Burnside Street, 1965

  1. I recognize several of these businesses from when I worked in skid road in the mid-1970. I think there was a greasy spoon restaurant where Ethel’s was located here then, but I do not recall the name Ethel’s. It’s possible that the restaurant I am thinking off might have been further west on Burnside.

  2. Was this area called “Skid Row” or was that further west on Burnside? Also, anyone know the origins of the name “Skid Row?” Finally, since I no longer live in Portland, does Skid Row still exist? Thanks in advance for any help.

  3. Just after I posted my comment, Jon Wood’s comment appeared. Jon states that area as “Skid Road”. I seem to recall it as “Skid Row”, but I might be mistaken. What is the correct name?

  4. The north and south sides of Burnside from the river front to Third was considered skid road. The area was also referred to a Burnside. There were residential hotels, and social services – the day labor state employment, night shelter – and businesses catering to ‘skid road denizens up to NW Broadway. Fwiw, ‘skid road’ is preferred to ‘skid row.’ Skid road harkens back to a lumber industry practice in neighbohood where logs timber were milled and then transported to the waterfront. I do not believe Portland had a true lumber skid road, but I think Seattle did, and might be the source of the term.

  5. “The term “skid road” dates back to the 17th century, when it referred to a log road, used to skid or drag logs through woods and bog. The term was in common usage in the mid-19th century and came to refer not just to the corduroy roads themselves, but to logging camps and mills all along the Pacific Coast. When a logger was fired he was “sent down the skid road.”

    The source of the term “skid road” as an urban district is heavily debated, and is generally identified as originating in either Seattle or Vancouver.” from Wikipedia

    Apparently , I cannot link the article. But it goes on to name Yesler Way in Seattle as early skid road where poor and homeless working men lived.

  6. Paul: I would say skid road does not exist in Portland, although some human services, charities and missions that serve low income people are still in the area. In the ’70s some complained about old drunks on 2nd and Third. Today, not so much, and you might see intoxicated people in any party of greater Downtown. Ironically, NW Couch from 2nd to Sixth hosts large number of young drinkers partying at clubs and on the street on Friday and Saturday nights. Some nights Couch is closed to through traffic

  7. The car is a 1957 Rambler Cross Country station wagon. The Nash name was no longer used on the 1957 Ramblers as Nash would be discontinued the following model year and AMC wanted to divorce the Nash name from Rambler cars.

  8. I’ve always heard that ‘skid road/row’ originated in Seattle when the logs were skid down the hill to the mills at the waterfront. It morphed into the name for the areas of other cities where the down and out resided.

  9. As a young guy I remember driving down Burnside and seeing a couple of rescue missions, bars, Gypsies living in vacant store fronts, and drunks everywhere. We used to go to a fantastic Chinese restaurant on 3rd st. just off of Burnside. It was called The Three J’s. If you didn’t know it was there you would never see it. Since it was in such a crappy area, there was no formal entrance. You walked into a very small room and the lady behind the glass asked how many in your party. Pretty a guy would check you out through a peep hole in the door. If you looked ok then they would unlock the door and you entered a beautiful restaurant. If you didn’t pass inspection then the lady would tell you that they were booked solid for the evening.

  10. a good way to tell easterners from westerners used to be whether they called it skid row or skid road; westerners more often said road since the industry of logging was or recently was in play, and the term was still familiar. time had corrupted it for easterners.
    when the industry departed, out-of-workers and down-and-outers were often left to haunt what had become an undesirable area along the road, easily morphed linguistically into a ‘row’ of seedy buildings.

    the two became interchangible, but i always doff my hat to those who use the ‘correct’ term.

    noo yawkers just called it the bowery……..

  11. All I can say is, if in it’s heyday you found your self in need of a pair of corks or tin pants 3rd and Burnside was a good place to start shopping. Maybe pop your head into Erikson’s Saloon and ask directions.


    And if you would like to learn more about skid roads, loggers or the life’s there of please allow me to recommend the writings of Stewart Holbrook available now at your Public Library. There is no better authority than Holy Old Mackinaw.

  12. SOOOOOOOOO COOL!!!!!! I pass that area EVERY day! How cool to see this area in past-time. In fact, it doesn’t look much different than it does now. Yes! Very good and informative conversation on this pic. I will say (based on my experience being in the are often….) that this area and other places in general downtown are definitely turning into a SKID ROW. Nonetheless, based on the crowd on the left in the picture…..the poverty-stricken and so-called ‘down and out’ is nothing new in this area. Real COOL!

  13. while i heartily echo rod’s endorsement of holbrook, be aware that ‘holy old mackinaw’ was not above stretching, padding, or weaving whole cloth when it came to the truth. i have a copy of rocky mtn revolution annotated with corrections by someone involved in some of the stories, with newspaper clippings to prove it.
    that said, holbrook is full of otherwise obscure info and hilariously droll, and it is sad that portland seems slightly embarrassed by him – his books are largely out-of-print, and asking about him even at powell’s gets you a ‘that crazy old uncle?’ look.

  14. yeah take holbrook with a grain of salt. he started the inaccurate story of shanhai tunnels. they were fright tunnels. google “sailor rest homes” for more accurate info about sailor conscription.

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