NE Broadway, 1929

A number man standing outside of Safeway, on the corner of NE Union Avenue (Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) and NE Broadway, 1929.


City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2009-009.1797

City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2009-009.1797


View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

15 thoughts on “NE Broadway, 1929

  1. And now I find that Foster and Kleiser (billboard owner) was the forerunner to Clear Channel.

    Gramma used to have Beeman’s gum all the time growing up in the 60s/70s. I see that the rebooted product has no pepsin in it.

    According to the Biennial Report, Volume 9 By the Oregon Bureau of Labor, Tiffany Bakery was at 365 Union Ave (about a half mile north from the current 365 NE MLK).

  2. The number man with his three piece suit, pipe and fedora has become something of a celebrity on this site. I wonder if the city records reveal his name.

  3. I have this Safeway as 462 E Burnside in 1929, apparently the old numbering system. 462 in present numbering would be close to Grand and on the south side.

  4. @ Joan: I’ll re-post my answer from a couple weeks ago:

    For an explanation of “number man” see this previous VP post.

    Basically, the numbers are used to easily identify and connect photos of properties that are being affected by some kind of public works project to other documents, like maps, detailing the work being done. Typically they have shown up in street widening projects where the city is taking a portion of the property, or in the case of the Sandy Blvd. extension, sometimes taking the entire property.”

  5. A fantastic photo. Unfortunate that the house to the right is no longer standing. It looks like it had a lot of character.

  6. Beautiful quality photo taken at the end of post war prosperity only a few months before the great crash in October 1929. While the American cities prospered, the overproduction of agricultural produce created widespread financial despair among American farmers throughout the decade. This would later be blamed as one of the key factors that led to the 1929 stock market crash.

  7. RE: Safeway Sign: It appears Skaggs was kind of the Kroger of its day: Safeway, Payless, Albertson’s and others. They used credit accounts to gain a foothold in the grocery business gaining an advantage on others using a model of ‘Sell for Less, Pay Tomorrow’… until the Great Depression when they switched to ‘cash-only’.

  8. city staff: please put a sticky, or something along the top image, explaining the number man. people are always asking what it means, then never come back to check for answers, apparently. joan has asked before, and has been replied to in detail, but i bet she didn’t sunbscribe to follow-up posts and missed them. apologies if they are different joans each time!

    i wonder what department employed him? anyone have time to see what depression-era payroll lists still exist in city archives and find him?

  9. @Joan, John Killen, wl, et al: I too have thrown in my two bits on several occasions about the possible ID of “Numbers Man.” To repeat myself, the official city photographer who took all of these “Numbers Man” pics was Lewis J. Bailey (1900-1961). My best guess always was that Mr. Numbers was his unnamed paid assistant cited in the 1931 Oregonian profile of Bailey. I have attempted to copy this profile below as a PDF file. I have quoted from the article before to explain how and why the photos were taken, but I wanted, if possible, to pass along the full text and photo of Bailey for anyone interested. Apologies in advance if the PDF does not copy. Otherwise, the article can be found in the 5 June 1931 edition of the Oregonian courtesy of Mult. Co. Library.

    Bailey’s office was a component of what was once known as the Bureau of Public Works. Maybe somebody can find a directory of city employees for some year in the 1929-39 time frame (when all this street widening work was happening) to find names for any assistants to Bailey. Not that any of this really matters. Having the photo, slide, and motion picture archive compiled by Mr. Bailey is luxury enough.

    L.J. Bailey City Photgrphr

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