21 thoughts on “SW Front Avenue, circa 1930

  1. The Zidell-Steinburg Company had many ads in the Oregonian, first at 209 SW Front, and after renumbering at 925 SW Front. In early ads, they add the tagline “The house of service” or “The house reliable” to their name.

  2. “[Samuel] Zidell was born on May 10, 1895 in Poland. At the age of 16, Zidell arrived in Portland unable to read or write English and barely able to speak it. He worked as a bottle washer, saving enough money to participate in a jitney (livery) business. In the summer of 1915, he purchased a team and wagon and drove to Roseburg to seek out his fortune. On arrival, he met a stranger who turned out to be the mayor of Roseburg. On his new found friend’s advice, Zidell established credit with a local bank and deposited $44, after which he founded the Douglas Machinery Company in a building owned by the mayor. The next year, he sold the company and returned to Portland to establish Zidell Machinery and scrap metal business near the waterfront at 925 SW Front.”

    From pages 15-16 of a Dept. of Interior/National Register of Historic Places PDF at:

    Click to access index.cfm

  3. The business that caught my eye here, was Alaska Junk Co. which was owned by Sam Schnitzer and was the beginnings of Schnitzer Steel. The sign facing the street opposite the business says the lot is the property of The Alaska Junk Co.
    The pedestrian walking towards the camera in is “classic”. The fact that cars totally took over the Portland landscape by 1928 is certainly evident in this this shot.

  4. I just can’t make out any of these buildings – https://goo.gl/maps/2y4KEybwDoBh3P726 – in the photo. The number of windows don’t match, the details/trim don’t seem to match, etc. I guess there was some rather serious remodel work done? Either way, this is a fantastic photo. It’s like I can just step through it.

  5. And the cobblestones, many of them being ballast of sailing ships that called on Portland to take on cargo.

  6. The open lots and wooden building to the right would make way just a few years later to the massive Public Market Building. Further down to the left the mansard roof of the St. Charles Hotel at the sw corner of Morrison and Front is visible.

  7. Yamhill is actually the cross-street down where the Sea Wall Public Market sign is. The white building is the Northrup & Blossom Building.

  8. A few tidbits to add to Lou L-P’s association of the Schnitzer family with Alaska Junk Company (Alaska Steel): Samuel Schnitzer started the company with partner Harry Wolf. They placed over 4000 ads in The Oregonian starting in 1912. The earlier ones listed the address in the 200 block of Front Street, but by the time of our photo they were saying the company was at 1st and Taylor. Nearly every ad in the 1930’s used the tagline: REMEMBER: ” We have it for less!” The Schnitzer Group succeeded Alaska Steel. (Source: The Oregonian, October 16, 1986, p. 89)

  9. Lilly’s Seed & Fertilizers established 1885, and known today as Lilly/Miller. If you garden you may have used their Morcrop fertilizer/plant foods which have been around since at least 1919. From ads from this era they give their address as 202 Front, or Front & Taylor.

  10. Sam Schnitzer must’ve had wide-ranging business connections throughout Oregon because my Grandpa, a junk man in Baker, Oregon, did business with the Schnitzers and the Alaska Junk Co. in the 1920s. Decades later, growing up in SW Portland, I knew some of the Schnitzer kids and family. In the 1950s I remember a prominent Alaska Junk Company sign visible from one of the bridges on the Westside near the river.

  11. If anyone noticed going onto the Morrison Bridge is a trolley, you can see it’s extension arm to the overhead electric wires as it crosses front ave.

  12. Not entirely off subject, but concerning Alaska Junk. In the early 1950’s while still going to school I worked as a lot boy for Jack Stanley at his car lot at 2929 SE 82nd. At that time and until at least 1954, Alaska Junk had a scrap yard located on the east side of 82nd to the south of 2929, about at least 2 square blocks with a large yellow board fence that faced 82nd, prominently lettered “Alaska Junk”. Around the 3000 block. Does anyone recall when that closed.

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