SW 4th Avenue, circa 1939

SW 4th Avenue looking north toward SW Yamhill Street, circa 1939.


City of Portland (OR) Archives, A2005-001.865.

City of Portland (OR) Archives, A2005-001.865.


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21 thoughts on “SW 4th Avenue, circa 1939

  1. I much prefer the interesting chaos of the vintage street scene than the planned sterility of the contemporary view.

    Things I noted, a bowling alley nestled among the hotels and furniture stores, the brave bike rider, Fred Meyer auto center.

  2. This is before drivers needed a ten foot lane for a six foot car. The Interstate bridge also worked fine with four lanes rather than three, an example of the governments way to solve problems. Is it possible that the government that governs best is one that governs least?

  3. In 1951-1952 as a high school student I worked at the drug store on the corner of SW 4th & Alder. All the buildings in the photograph still remained including many of the businesses. “Blanche” who owned a whorehouse at SW 1st & Arthur would come in and buy large quantities of condoms and gallons of mouthwash which I put into 4 oz bottles. The drug store owner always made those deliveries after closing hours at the drug store. A cross the street from the police station was a Chinese gambling operation in a large room. I delivered prescriptions and the “front” was a small Chinese grocery entered from the street. I’m 81 years old now and this photograph brought back lots of recollections as a high school kid working in that area.

  4. @igor1882
    Your photo was taken either just before or just after the post’s original photo; the young lad standing on the SE corner looks like he didn’t move an inch between photos. 🙂

  5. @igor1882, not only a series, but taken at about the same time on the same day: For instance, the line of parked cars just beyond Fred Meyer is identical in the two shots.

  6. Mr. Parker…there was or still is a photo of the interior of that Chinese gambling parlor for sale on E-bay.

  7. One more comment. I have always wondered if these photos are “stills” from that series of films of Portland traffic that are available for viewing on Youtube and other web sites. I have never taken the time to compare them.

  8. So, what is the year of theses photos? 1932 is not right because there are turret top(all metal 1 piece roofs) cars in the pictures which didn’t come out until 1935.

  9. Michael Parker,

    Central Drugs still operates out of a storefront on the corner of 4th and Alder. They maintain a little mini-museum that documents the history of the pharmacy from the time they operated out of the Belvedere Hotel building on the same spot. If you have any old photos or more stories from your time there, I’m sure they would greatly appreciate hearing from you. Their number is 503-226-2222.

  10. RE: Street Poles. The double cast iron street lamps in the pictures are reconditioned and re-used by the city. I have seen the stockpiles of removed ones awaiting relocation.

  11. ref Michael Parker’s comment about deliveries to “Blanche”. This apparently was Blanche Leonard, one of the most successful Madams on the coast. She was also a friend and shared business dealings with Dr. Ruth Barnett. Both women a little ahead of their time.

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