Streetcar Line, 1932

The right of way for an interurban streetcar line, which ran along SW 4th Ave. This right of way later became parts of Babur Blvd. and I-5. 1932.


City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2005-005.1393.14

City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2005-005.1393.14


View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

29 thoughts on “Streetcar Line, 1932

  1. My first thought was how could this area look so primitive in 1932. This is what the area suggested looked like this in 1931:

    Could it be a much earlier date than noted ? I live on 4th directly across Barbur from Lair Hill Park. You can see that the park land and 4th to the west sits much higher than Barbur, so this pic does make sense. Just seems like it had to have been taken much sooner than 1932.

  2. Upon more thought, my comment above doesn’t make sense. There were a lot of homes and businesses already in the area by 1932. This can’t be 4th and Sheridan or even that general area in 1932 in my mind.

  3. This isn’t near Sheridan and 4th or near 405. The “4th Street” in the photo is referring to the fact that the 4th, as seen in previous VP photos, used to become just a railroad/street car/interurban (or whatever type rail it was) where it crossed the old trestle just south of Sheridan. That right-of-way later became Barbur Blvd., but since Barbur Blvd. didn’t exist yet it was probably just referred to as “4th”.

    This could be essentially anywhere along what is today Barbur and from the diagonal cross street where the girl is standing on the side walk, and the other diagonal street with the parked car in the distancce, this is somewhere that Barbur curves across the regular street grid.

  4. I think this is looking along Barbur between Hamilton St. and the Town & Country Apartments, looking southwest. The little cross street in this photo would have run north and south. One candidate for that street might be SW Condor Ave.

  5. Speaking of condor . . .

    Is that a water tank at the crest of the hill? It looks like a pterodactyl soaring over the crest to hunt the lowlands. Run, little girl!

    OK, maybe just my over-active imagination.

  6. This is a fun one. I think the Hamilton/Barbur area may be right, but for the moment, I’m a little more convinced of the location in my link (below). It’s the view as seen from above on a current Google map. Note where SW 4th crosses the road that parallels SW Barbur, aka 99W. This would account for the right-hand sweep of the right-of-way seen in the old photo. Also, if you go to street view, it’s not hard to image the old street that parallels Barbur as a rail right of way. I think this may be the route of the old Southern Pacific Red Electrics, which quit running in 1929. Anyway, that’s my theory…for now.,-122.6794982,227a,20y,270h,45t/data=!3m1!1e3

  7. The sweep of the railway right-of-way, the intersecting street cutting off to the right, and the hills rising up beyond do match the elements that would become the intersection of Barbur Blvd at Hamilton Street, looking southwest. Hamilton was in place in this area by the 1910s, and considerable grading was done to open up Barbur Blvd after this photo was taken. Here is an aerial from just a couple of years later showing the area from the south, but the angle of the roadways lines up. There is even a candidate for the small gabled house visible in both photos.

  8. Mr. Hawkins,
    I believe you are correct.
    Think some of the houses on that stretch of Hamilton are from the 1890’s, perhaps earlier.
    I live in the middle of this photo.

  9. I think Barbur/Hamilton is right. Everything lines up: the angles of the streets, the slope, the hill. In the aerial photo that Ken posted, it looks like you can see a remnant of the embankment that’s on the left of the right of way in the 1932 photo. (It’s on the far right edge of Ken’s photo.) I tried to find the houses up on the ridge, but didn’t have any luck. The big one in the middle would be somewhere south of Council Crest, I think.

  10. It is rather surprising, given the lack of street paving and curbs and gutters and other infrastructure, that this neighborhood has a sidewalk

  11. Another interesting spot near Barbur and Hamilton that this pic made me think of is just north at SW Barbur and SW Lowell.

    East of Barbur, SW Lowell is a regular street. But west of Barbur, there is a dedicated ROW but just some stairs and a sidewalk. There are three houses that face this right-of-way that have addresses on SW Lowell, served by nothing but a sidewalk and undeveloped street too steep to connect to Barbur. SW Viewpoint Terrace is the next street west.

  12. This IS a good one. First, assuming we are looking south, I don’t think it can be Lowell and Barbur since the slope on the right doesn’t match the current slope at that location. Second, while the hills in the background works for Hamilton and Barbur there is something wrong with the lack of houses shown in the 1932 version vs the 1934 photo of that intersection. Taking the caption at face value how about this location?,-122.6769026,16.03z The sidewalk might be a route up to Terwilliger.

  13. Sorry, that Google location really didn’t work. Try this address 2903 SW 4th Ave
    Portland, OR 97201

  14. That’s sort of where I started with it early this morning, but remembered there were lots of homes and businesses at 4th, Hooker and Barbur in 1932.

  15. The house on the hill in the 1932 photograph, just above the telephone pole with the cross-ties, appears identical to the house on the hill seen in the photo posted by Rumble Fish. In that photo that house is directly above the box truck leading away from the photographer.

  16. It’s looking more like the area of Hamilton & Barbur but I’m still confused about exactly where is Barbur? It looks completely (and newly) paved in this photo of Barbur & Capital Hwy from the same year. In addition, the “Interurban Streetcar Line” tracks were replaced by I-5 so isn’t the photographer more likely standing in what is now I-5 near where Hamilton meets Kelly?

  17. @Steve: Barbur was originally an interurban rail line too. The right of way of the Southern Pacific Red Electrics went south and west from downtown on what is now 4th Avenue, Barbur Blvd., and Bertha Blvd. The Oregon Electrics ran on a parallel right of way: what is now I-5 and Multnomah Blvd. The SP sold the right of way for what is now Barbur to the state after service on those lines ended in 1929, while the OE hung on until the 40s (though passenger service to Portland ended in 1933), eventually selling their right of way to the state for I-5. Two interurbans, now two major highways.

    So to answer your original question, the rail right of way pictured above IS Barbur. This photo looks like it was taken at what is now Barbur & Hamilton after the SP abandoned the right of way in 1929, but before construction on Barbur began in the early 30s.

  18. Thanks, Tim. I had been looking for more info on the rail system and you just had it at your fingertips. I still have trouble understanding why Barbur would look so complete where it meets Capital Hwy. in 1932 and yet look like a narrow, dirt cowpath 3/4 mile towards downtown the same year. I suppose it’s possible they were building Barbur from South to North and they just hadn’t arrived at Hamilton yet. I could even argue that the aerial from 1934 (Ken above) shows a graded but not yet paved Barbur.

    The finished sidewalk doesn’t bother me since it was probably the trolley stop for the neighborhood which, according to Zillow, includes more than 20 houses built between 1880 and 1927 in the block bounded by Hamilton, Hamilton Terr., Condor, and Bancroft. I had no idea that was such an old neighborhood.

    Al in all a very interesting photo. Now if someone could identify the girl with the baseball bat… 🙂

  19. Ok…chiming in here. I think we’re on Slavin Rd somewhere. Maybe behind what is currently Rasmussen Village. Ken, what do you think? Slavin Rd which still exists, but has been severed and shortened, was actually the main road that you took from downtown to get all the way to the Hillsdale area and connected with Highway 10, which then, they called Slavin Rd as it ran through Hillsdale. Currently a portion of it runs parallel to Barbur. It was laid long before Barbur was. Thoughts?

    I grew up in the neighborhood where those homes are on the hill. My parents home, which you can’t see was built in 1928. The large home in the 1928 and 1942 photo is 5240 SW Westwood View built in 1927. The home on the left in the 1928 photo is the first home built on Menefee Dr. The 1942 photo shows how the street developed over time and fits according to Portland Maps and dates of construction etc.

    This is another fun one. I could be way off base w/Slavin Rd, but I had to throw it out there.

  20. Tim and others, I agree this is looking south at the corner of today’s Barbur and Hamilton. Growing up in S.W. Portland in the ’50s and ’60s we passed this way in the family Ford thousands of times on our way out to Hillsdale and Maplewood/Vermont Hills where we lived. And BTW Steve, the girl with the baseball bat is a 1930s version of Peppermint Patty out looking for Charlie “Chuck” Brown!

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