SE Belmont Street, 1941

SE Belmont Street near SE 33rd Avenue looking east, February 18, 1941.


City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2009-009.551

City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2009-009.551


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15 thoughts on “SE Belmont Street, 1941

  1. I wonder if they realigned SE Belmont at 39th so that it better connected with SE Belmont east of SE Cesar Chavez? If you look close there is a Safeway on the other Side ( East side ) of Cesar Chavez in the photo.

  2. A Safeway store was still on that corner in the late 40s-early 50s but it was a much different building, constructed of what appeared to be a tan-colored stucco. The entrance was in the same corner spot as on the earlier picture. I remember going there as a kid with my father for weekly grocery shopping. He always bought a bag of Airway coffee and the highlight for me was getting to turn the coffee grinder on and off.

  3. WOW!…I lived in the huge “castle house” at 913 S.E. 33rd St. (just out of the picture to the right) on the southwest corner of 33rd and Belmont throughout my high school years in the mid 60’s! What really amazes me is that a lot of the businesses pictured in the 1941 photo were still there during my youth! On the left: The dairy building, Laurence Jewelers, The Picture Mill, Belmont Pharmacy, The Avalon Theater. To the right: Cottage Bakery. They were all still part of the community then! Amazing!

  4. My Grandpa (born 1899) drove milk trucks out of the Carnation Dairy to the left. Fun to see this. Maybe Grandpa was in the building at the time.

  5. I used to live over in that area a few years ago. Used to go to Zupan’s. How great to see the changes as well as the similarities. Mt. Tabor in the background is still there!! 🙂

  6. The “charm” present in this scene came about mostly because of the streetcar line to downtown was the primary means of transportation along this corridor.

    The focus of businesses situated along the way were on serving streetcar riders, who likely also lived in, worked in, or had connections in he neighborhood. No auto-oriented businesses are visible, and not much parking is needed (note all of the open spaces in 1941!).

    The focus of the street was to keep the streetcar and pedestrians moving efficiently – not move as many cars through in as short a period of time as possible.

    Faster speed limits? Forget it – you could move only as fast as the streetcars, including their stops.

    One way street doublets? Forget it – wouldn’t work with two-way streetcars. It took the auto to dominate before that could work.

    You could live close by and benefit from the streetcar. Maybe not right on the main street – that was for businesses, after all – but immediately next to it was fine. The closer the better.

    In contrast, streets that grew up with only autos had to accommodate heavier traffic volumes, higher speeds, parking strips (or off-street lots), and more control signals. An example would be SE 82nd, which is known only for its stupefying ugliness.

    It’s no accident that SE Belmont and SE Hawthorne are noted as potential future streetcar corridors in the concept plan for the Portland streetcar system. It worked once before, and the design, scale, density, and built-in accommodations of the street, sidewalks, buildings, and nearby residential areas is appropriate for this usage again.

  7. Our family lived south of Hawthorne and I don’t ever remember streetcars on Hawthorne.
    I do remember the trolley buses on Hawthorne and the streetcars on Belmont. The buses were connected to overhead lines like streetcars. This was in the early 1940s.

  8. Maps identifying streetcars and interurbans on Hawthorne in this document were dated 1912 and 1918.

    It might well be that track was pulled up and trolley buses put in service in their place between then and the 1940s.

  9. @Sherri,
    Considering what happened to Guilds and Kitteredge Lakes, Tanner Gulch, the east channel of Swan Island, Mocks Bottom and a largish chunk of Ross Island, to name a few, it’s a good thing Mt. Tabor is still there.

    It’s pretty clear early city leaders loved their terraforming. 🙂

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