20 thoughts on “NW Front Avenue, 1974

  1. Centennial Mills Complex there in the background. You can see two huge nets hanging from the Fremont Bridge because they are still working on the Bridge.

  2. Could the date be wrong on this photo? The Fremont Bridge opened in 1973. There are construction vehicles on the bridge.

  3. Ahhh!.. The old Portland I remember! The days before it got weird!… And also by looking at this picture, I remember when the railroads used boxcars instead of containers to ship freight!

  4. I did a survey of Albers Mills in 1983 before it was remodeled, One of the scariest vacant buildings I ever toured, the only light came from the perimeter windows and there were chute holes in the floors that extended from the top floor to the basement.
    The worst part however was visiting the basement which had water a foot deep and rats ever where because of all the grain littering the place.

  5. Agree with Mike about the date being off. In the background, you can see the Fremont Bridge is still under construction and Wiki says it opened on November 15, 1973. If you look closely (and zoom in a bit) you can see that while the center span is in clearly already in place, the lower deck beneath the center span is however not yet there (if you follow the lower deck from the left you’ll see it dead-ends at the junction of the center span). The center span was raised on March 16, 1973 without the lower deck below (there are a lot of photos of that process if you google it) so this would place the photo probably shortly after the raise. Probably spring of 1973.

  6. You can see the shadow of the Google car in the 2016 view that Brian added. I have seen the Google car a few times but also the Apple car.

  7. @Craig; Many of those holes in the floors, the man hole sized ones at least, were occupied by continues belts that served as personnel elevators that allowed employees to move thru the mill levels at a rapid pace. The belts were equipped with alternating hand holds and 24in X 12in platforms to stand on and they traveled at about the velocity of any Otis elevator of the period. You would grab a hand hold and step on and keep a sharp eye for your destination and simply step away promptly. If you were a noob you could only use the belt if you were preceded by a experienced employee who would immediately hit the emergency stop if you appeared to be paralyzed with a death grip on the hand hold. These belts had applications in other industries, paper mills, refineries, chemical plants and the like. The alternative was the stair case, circular, caged, up and up and up. Think Astoria Column. Not a place for those afflicted with even mild vertigo.

    When that was still a working mill to step inside was a wonderful thing. It seemed almost alive humming breathing and slightly vibrating. The mottled sunlight thru those tiny windows dispersed by the ever present dust, it was almost magical. At night it was wrapped in certain atmosphere of mystery .

    Down through the years I had occasion to back down that alley under the bridge to deliver raw materials I gathered from the corners of the west. Wheat and other grains as well as corn from all over the Northwest and the high plains. Sun dried alfalfa pellets from western Colorado, cotton seed meal from West Texas and California. Salt from Utah, Bentonite and soda from Wyoming. Sunflower seeds from Kansas and lignon liquor form paper mills all over the west and beet sugar molasses from every western state. I also delivered edible tallow and other food oils in bulk to that alley at one time or another. Not every day but once in a while and I found it interesting. Any back haul that will pay the fuel bill from these regions is a good load.

    As to the rats ,every available ledge was occupied by a container of rat poison in an attempt at vector control that must have achieved some success as I personally do not recall ever seeing a rodent on the premises although I am sure they were present in some number.

    It seems to me now that I must have made the Front Avenue transit a hundred thousand times if I made it once. Memories of a different Portland.

  8. @ Rod Taylor, interesting experience you had. I believe the real rat problem developed after the mill stopped operating. With no humans around and plenty of spilled grain it was perfect for river rats.
    Part of the funding for the redevelopment of the property came through historic architecture grants and tax incentives. I was an acquaintance of the historian whose job it was to write the narrative for the documentation of the history of the building. He loved history and mentioned to me when we were talking about the building that the Mill owner (Mr. Albers) was a German immigrant who got in trouble for a remark he made that was overheard while on a train . This was back before the the United States had entered into WWI and all major European countries and the United States were extremely nationalistic.
    Apparently during a discussion of the European war someone remarked that the United States should send troops on the side of England and France. Albers said something to the effect ” The Kaisers men can whoop anyone” That statement was enough for Albers to be brought to trial for treason. The outcome of the trial is unknown to me but I suspect that the charge was dropped because of the petty nature of the discussion and Albers being an up standing and prominent citizen of the City of Roses. However my friend found this information in the Oregonian so I assume the case was widely followed by the public.

  9. Awesome pic. If you love the “old” portland before food carts and selfie sticks you should check out my blog fadedportland.wordpress.com we specialize in 60s-90s Portland street scenes and aerials

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