NE Union Avenue, 1929

A number man standing outside Morrison Furniture on the corner of NE Union Avenue (Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) and NE San Rafael, 1929.


City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2009-009.1815

City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2009-009.1815


View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

10 thoughts on “NE Union Avenue, 1929

  1. Notice the bell sign above the engineering office? If I remember correctly, wasn’t that to indicate that there was a phone in the building?

  2. Carefully manicured lawns in those days were the realm of the rich or at least upper middle class, not the working or merchant class of who would be living along Union Ave. People were too busy making a living. It wasn’t until the post WW2 era and the growth of the middle class and suburban living that it was a priority to have a perfect lawn. Today in Portland there are a great many lawns that are not as well cared for that 40-50 years ago would have been picture perfect. That includes mine.

  3. That’s always been one of my pet peeves (not that you guys care) that people don’t keep their yards and lawns up. Ranks right up there with not signaling for turns and tailgating. LOL.

  4. Mine, too, Dave Johnson. If nothing else plant some flowering low-maintenance shrubs. Or better yet fruiting trees. I suppose a regular vegetable garden would be too much labor.
    Paul, well into the 20th Century there have been those Ma Bell signs all over. I think I still see a few of them today.

  5. Dave Johnson…on the other hand, there are those who mow their lawns every three or four days, whether it needs it or not. Gee…isn’t that a bit too obsessive? How often do they get their hair cut? (I know…don’t tell me…just after they mow the lawn!  )

    Oh…I do love that enamel “Ma Bell” phone sign…noticed it immediately…I’ve got a similar two-sided one that reads” Public Telephone”, with an arrow and the Bell System logo! Had it for years and years…and it’s hanging just above the computer…always makes me smile! 

  6. Love our “Number Man” !
    Always look to see if there is a familiar car in the background.

    Wonder what he died of ? Cancer maybe, Every picture has a mouth pipe !!

  7. I found a few factoids about the history of the “Morrison Furniture” property (411 Union – future 1927 Union) in the easy-access press archives.

    The building at no. 411 must have been erected before 1910 because in that year someone applied for a permit to add a woodshed to the building; elsewhere it is noted that the NE corner of Union and San Rafael (as shown here I believe) was the original site of a something called a “Mission Sunday School” founded in 1889; in 1916 it was a garage and auto repair shop w/6 rooms for rent on upper level; in 1918 it was the “Union Ave. Metalworks” (sheet metal shop), and it stayed in this role until 1921; in 1922 it morphed into the “Union Avenue Apple House” — a green grocer shop selling apples, other fruit? In mid-1922 the 411 Union address was leased to a biz called “Radio Carpet Cleaners,” also dealing in buying/selling used rugs; in 1923 the little one-story shop at no. 409 was a shop buying/selling used pianos; by 1929 it is as we see here; in 1942 Prudential Ins. Co. sold the property to a local investor; in 1945 the building housed a boiler-furnace supply shop, in 1947 an auto tire shop.

    Finally, in 1955 a local Ford dealer (Kupp Ford) with several other lots along Union Ave. now occupied this lot (it used the 1927 Union Ave. address), using it to sell used cars. I don’t know, but I’m betting the original building shown here was razed between 1947 and 1955 to make room for the car lot.

    Another tiny chapter in the ever-changing PDX commercial real estate market.

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