NE Union Avenue, circa 1931

Two women working behind the counter at a cleaners, located at 838 NE Union Avenue (NE Martin Luther King Boulevard), circa 1931. This became 3956 NE Union Avenue after the street renumbering.


City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2008-001.43

City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2008-001.43


View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

12 thoughts on “NE Union Avenue, circa 1931

  1. Minimalist. A counter, phone, clothes rack & an iron. And flowers. When I was a kid in the ’50s my Mom had a pressing iron like that. I’m not sure if I ever saw her use it, tho.

  2. Actually, quite the excellent art photograph: great composition. The ladies’ faces seem to indicate that they weren’t given much advance notice and didn’t know the photographer.

  3. I enthusiastically agree that this is excellent art photography in line with all the other shots of local businesses and proprietors. I wish I could figure out who in the city bureaucracy or elsewhere commissioned these photos of local businesses and why. Maybe the funding of this art work was some sort of local response to depression era unemployment or perhaps aimed at some other purpose. I’m also guessing that these photos came out of the Davies Family Research Library collection at the Ore. Hist. Soc.

    The given address of the dry cleaning business may be wrong. Advertising in press archives show 838 Union and 3956 NE Union as belonging to an F.B. Roland Hardware business from the late 1920s through 1949. On the other hand, this bus. address seems to have had separate premises that may have been rented to others.

  4. @ Richard

    Click on the efiles link on the main page and you’ll see that it’s part of the Irene Archer – Cody Bottorff photograph collection, with the description: “A collection of images taken by an itinerate photographer during the early part of the Great Depression. The photographs were given to Bottorff who then donated them to the archives.” Many of the photographs that you see at this blog are from that collection, including one (older gentleman in front of his shop) where the photo location has continued to stymie site viewers for over 3 years:

  5. @Ric

    Thanks for the excellent explanation as to provenance of this photo collection. I should’ve thought to click on the Archives e-file link to find out more.

  6. Dominic, Richard and Ric,

    The Irene Archer – Cody Bottorff were just one set of Depression era photos. In 1938, the WPA commissioned Minor White to document Front avenue and the waterfront area. It’s because of his work, we have some of the most beautiful and evocative photographs of long gone cast iron architecture.

  7. Edit: For Portland newbies, Front Avenue is now known as Naito Parkway, a name change I believe to be entirely fitting given the Naito Brother’s efforts to save historic buildings of the North End.

  8. @ Jim<

    Thanks, I wasn't aware of the origin of that collection.

    @ Richard,

    You're certainly welcome. A great collection that I would love to have complete access to (without needing to make special requests).

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