32 thoughts on “Willamette River, circa 1927

  1. I recognize some of those buildings that are still around. Looks like the old Bekins building east of the Broadway bridge and just west of the Steel bridge right at the end of the bridge is the old fire house and a big white building. Comparisons of the area from then to now is amazing.

  2. Just North of the Broadway bridge on the East side is the Battleship Oregon. The decommissioned Battleship was towed to Portland from Bremerton Wa. in early June 1925 and arrived on the 14th, with the Rose Festival Queen and Governor boarding downriver for it’s entrance to Portland . The original moorage next to the Broadway bridge was was dredged by the Port of Portland, and the city paid for the construction of steps, and for the supply of water and electrical power to the ship for visitors.

  3. What’s with the trails of oil slicks , randomly coming from different areas?This is just upstream from the current Superfund is now.

  4. The river is high. Some of that oil may be coming from places near the river where oil was dumped and are now covered with flood water.

  5. Thanks Dennis, I would not have noticed that if you hadn’t pointed it out, the bow gun turret shows clearly.
    The photo was taken to highlight the river but I find it more interesting to check out the old wood buildings in Old town. I’m wondering what the little triangular building might have been that is located between the Gasco tank and the river?

  6. This is a great aerial view! Just west of the Broadway Bridge is Portland’s magnificent Union Station with its 150 ft.-tall Romanesque Revival clock tower — at that time, and still today, a major Pacific Northwest railroad hub. In the 1940s-50s five railroads served this busy station. From the station the tracks make a sharp turn and cross the double-deck Steel Bridge. And just a block south of the station you can see the Hoyt Hotel, famous in the ’60s for the Barbary Coast nightclub with its “Roaring Twenties Review.”

  7. Vlad Mike has got it correct as the Boss Tavern. If you check out the Vintage Portland photo from June 10, 2014 at the bottom of the photo you can see the Boss Saloon as it was called in this 1912 photo.

  8. Vlad if you view the June 10, 2014 photo of the Boss Saloon – Tavern read the comments for more info on this building.

  9. Creosote timbers, piles, lumber was the go-to construction material here in the day. When the river was high those organic compounds would slowly leach off into the waters and leave a trailing sheen on the water. A very common sight. And in the summer months the heat of the sun would lay down a strong odor anywhere in the vicinity of the treated wood. The sights and smells of early Portland.

  10. I’ve found a few more photos of Boss Tavern (or Boss Lunch) online. I can also see the Steel Bridge Saloon on the east side of the Steel Bridge where N. Holladay St curves to the east. It is also triangular.
    There are so many fabulous details to pore over in this one! You get a feeling what it was like before the sea wall was built.

  11. With all due respect I should point out that in the period of this photo that the Willamette was essentially a open sewer. The storm sewers from every community spewed untreated runoff into the river, industries along the entire main stem contributed their effluents unabated, as well as agricultural and timbering enterprises. Oil slicks were a permanent feature by this pre Gov. Tom McCall period.
    Just saying.

  12. rod taylor: imagine that open sewer before the seawall contained it, never mind the ships and noisy trains belching coal exhaust. Not sure it could have made more sense to build highways there at the time.

  13. Shown is the location of the large locomotive roundhouse just south of the Union Pacific chimney in the north rail yards.

  14. Elliott: I checked Oregonian news articles from 1927 & 1928 on the Lovejoy Viaduct, or ramp as it is was also called and learned that it was built in 2 phases. The 1st phase was built my Multnomah County from the West end of the Broadway to the 10th street ramp, and they did not accept a bid for this portion until July 1927. The 2nd phase from 10th street to 14th was built by the City of Portland, and they accepted the bid for this portion in May 1928, with the entire Lovejoy Viaduct opening on December 4, 1928. I think I read that the city had trouble property with owners which caused their delay.

    To see an aerial photo from 1939 see Vintage Portland Photo from February 26, 2013

  15. yes, I remember seeing the June 10th 2014 photo of boss Tavern, the photo was taken in 1912 and is one of my very favorites. In 1912 the gas manufacturing process was in Old Town, it must have smelled horribly. In the aerial photo of the Willamette taken in 1927 the gas works had been moved north near the St. Johns bridge and the Boss Tavern was truly an island.

  16. I viewed the film clip above, it just makes me want to cry. I remember the Williamatte River in the 60’s, and reflect on those visions of pollution when crossing one of the bridges to do downtown, and especially the smell during the summer.

  17. Vlad, do you remember the two huge gas tanks near the east end of the Ross Island Bridge? (Circa 1950s-’60s.) Were those two tanks part of the Gasco operation?

  18. Robin, I remember two large gas tanks, they were black in color with a metal exterior support frame, I think those are the tanks you are referring to. I saw them daily from our house near 26th & Powell.

  19. One of the first things that struck me about this photo is the absence of vehicles! It’s obviously midday and must be a Sunday. There are some cars heading on and off the Broadway bridge by the train station and everywhere else it’s just a few here and there. I think that’s two streetcars up on the bridge. Amazing to think the city could be that quiet and deserted, sigh. We’ll never see it like that again.

  20. Robin: I looked a some historic aerial photos of the area where the gas storage tanks were located near the East side of the Ross Island bridge. The oldest photo from 1948 thru 1970 there were 3 tanks, but by 1981 there were only 2 tanks, and all tanks were gone in a 1990 photo. I don’t know what years they were removed.

  21. Great picture, does anyone else remember the name of the ship which was moored in that same spot for years?

  22. Is it possible that this photo predates 1915? On third, there is no sign of the arches of the Great Light Way which was extended to Glisan in 1915.

  23. Jim: The website Oregon Encyclopedia states that street widening in 1925 from 3rd to the new Burnside Bridge eliminated the arch on Burnside, also street widening in 1928 also eliminated the Ash & Ankeny arches, and I think street widening may have claimed the Flanders & Glisan arches around this time. If you enlarge the photo I believe the Everett arch is visible, and the others are obscured by the buildings. The Vintage Portland photo from July 27, 2012 shows that the arches on 3rd at Couch, Davis, and Everett were still standing in 1935.

  24. It looks to me like there is a fairly high river gage in this photo. Maybe somewhere around 17 to 19 feet.

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