18 thoughts on “SW 2nd Avenue, 1939

  1. My Dad worked at the Popular Cafe briefly after WW2. He tended bar and made change for all the card players. My Mom and I would drive downtown and pick him up
    after work…she’d double-park the ’37 Buick, and I’d run into the smoke-filled dive and
    tell him we were there.

  2. The Dahl and Penne Card Room, at left, has a colorful history. This is from a 1999 gay walking tour.

    Dahl & Penne Tavern, 604 S.W. Second. Opened in 1898 near the Waterfront, this working man’s eatery didn’t begin to develop a gay clientele until much later, some say around 1962. The gay crowd usually predominated between 1:00 and 2:30 a.m. Then in 1972, two Californians, Sammy and Gene Landauer, a straight married couple came to town and purchased the D & P. Within a short time, they had fixed up the tavern and, with the help of Van Richards (Vannessa), a local hair stylist cum drag entertainer, the bar really took off, staging popular drag shows and becoming the host tavern for the Imperial Rose Court. The room in the back where the drag shows took place was affectionately referred to as the “Royal Flush Corral.” In the 1970s, the Oregon legislature passed a law that allowed gambling by non-profit organizations and Dahl & Penne’s became one of three bars licensed in the city to conduct gambling. The house could not take any profit; all proceeds had to go directly to the non-profit organization. Thus began D & P’s tradition of fundraising for local charities. In 1983, the Dahl & Penne closed down, another victim of Portland’s urban renewal. The Bank of America Building now sits on its site.

  3. When the Morrison Bridge was built in the mid 1950’s several buildings in this area were demolished from the East side of SW 2nd ave. to Front ave. for the bridge off ramps and approaches. Pacific Electric & Hardware relocated across the street to a new building in 1956 where Hub Clothing store is located in this photo, and today this building at SW 2nd & Alder is a FedEx Office.

  4. You can see the Ancient Order of United Workmen Temple building in the background on the right side, behind the Moy Building. Still has it’s parapet masonry too. I still miss this building..

  5. Chris, I agree that the old 19th century buildings were much more visually interesting than what replaced them. There were some great old Victorian Hotels on SW Second ave. Many with a fireplace in each room for their sole heat source. Unfortunately all these buildings were built of unreinforced masonry and were impossible to remodel into modern offices because they were too small and too expensive to upgrade. Some were saved and upgraded as examples of 19th century architecture but the “neighborhood” was completely lost.

  6. Chris: I agree with your statement. At SDSU in the 1980’s as a political science major city planning classes explained how cities create “dead zones” when they remove businesses that serve peoples day to day needs with high rise apartment buildings, office blocks, banks etc. There’s no excuse for it – that’s not progress.

  7. I remember the office of the Montana Assay Co. that was upstairs above the Dahl & Penne cardroom. A fellow could come home from the digging’s somewhere to the East and take his pouch of gold dust upstairs and turn it into something easier to spend at the establishments along the street. As much as I love the old buildings, when you realize that by the 1939 date of the photo many of the iron-fronts were at least 50 years old, and then add another 80 years since to get to today, I suppose it’s not surprising that most of these structures have since been replaced. That said, the recent demolition of the “Ancient Order” temple was a real loss that will never be replaced.

  8. It was about the time of this photo that my Dad came to Portland from the far reaches of eastern Oregon to go to business college. This was a big, exciting change in his young life, and when I was a kid in the early 1950s he used to take me down to this area and show me around. Some of the places mentioned above were still around, and he proudly showed me where he used to hang out when he first came to town. I can almost see him strolling down 2nd near Alder, wearing a hat and tie like the guys in this wonderful old photo. Thanks, Vintage Portland!

  9. Mike, I was confused about the Chop Suey sign also. But I don’t think it’s the Hung Far Low sign. I grew up in Portland in the 1940s-50s and Hung Far Low was always located north of Burnside near 4th and Couch (NW). I recall going there as a kid; lots of stairs up to the restaurant from the street. Also, Hung Far Low’s sign, though of similar design to the one in this photo, featured the words “Chop Suey” horizontally across the top below a stylized pagoda, and the name “Hung Far Low” printed vertically down the sign. And although the restaurant is long gone, the “famous” much snickered-about sign is still there today at 4th & Couch.

  10. For the old building enthusiasts I believe that the 3 story building on the left, beyond (to the south of ) the Dahl-Penne sign is the Mulkey building. The Mulkey building was located at the northeast corner of 2nd and Morrison and was built in 1885. It occupied a space of 95 feet on Morrison Street and 100 feet on 2nd Avenue. It cost the owner, Marion Francis Mulkey (1836-1889) about $35,000 to build.

    The architect was Justus F. Krumbein, architect of the Oregon State Capitol Building (burned in 1935). The contractor, Robert Collier & Co., lessees of the Smith & Watson Iron Works, did the cast-iron work, using forty-two tons of iron in the construction of interior columns, door and window-sills, pilasters, lintels, etc.

    Frank M. Mulkey bequeathed the building to the State of Oregon upon his death in 1927, to be used as state offices and to be dedicated to his brother, U.S. Senator from Oregon, Frederick W. Mulkey. The State of Oregon sold the building in 1950 for $86,260. The building was torn down in 1953 to make way for a 100X100-foot parking lot.

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