SW 4th Avenue, 1932

The old SW 4th streetcar line, which ran along SW 4th Avenue. This right of way later became parts of Babur Boulevard and I-5, 1932. You can see a previous image of the same area by clicking here.


City of Portland (OR) Archives, A2005-005.1393.13.


View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

12 thoughts on “SW 4th Avenue, 1932

  1. I’m a little confused here. Are those people standing on the old right of way or a driveway off of the right of way? It looks like the hill there would have been to the west of what later became SW Barbur?

  2. The two guys in trench coats (one light, one dark) in the “related” 1933 post above could easily be the same as in today’s photo.

  3. One possibility here is that this is where Barbur turns to the west near Hamilton Street and looks towards the West Hills. So while the photo (#10862 38) is labeled ”4th Street”, this may be referring to the proposed streetcar line, rather than the actual street we are seeing. In looking at a 1939 aerial photograph of this area, it is relatively undeveloped, but with houses present off to the north as this and the other referenced photo (#10862 39) show. Also the hills here are mostly deciduous, not evergreen, which is different than the mostly evergreen hills further to the north around OHSU and the Marquam Gulch. What appears to be missing here would be Terwilliger Blvd up on the hillside. However, maybe not. Another photo in the 4th Street series (#10862 45) taken at the Marquam Gulch area clearly shows a series of white lamp posts up on Terwilliger. If you look closely on photo #10862 38, you can see some white dots about two-thirds the way up the hill. Could these be the tops of the lampposts on Terwilliger? They are also visible on #10862 39, as well as some houses on the top of the hill.

  4. I’m thankful to have VP as a welcome distraction today
    as I had to evacuate my home in Lincoln City yesterday
    due to the Echo Canyon Fire.

    Todays photo really shows what a paradise
    Portland once was. Amazing.

  5. I’m sorry to hear about your having to evacuate, wploulorenziprince. I hope your home is spared and that you stay safe.

  6. Old Sanborn maps show there was a siding on the inter urban line just north of Hamilton, which we don’t see in either of these related photos. Also there are no visible remnants of the catenary poles for the electric rail cars. Maybe these aren’t views of the abandoned right of way?

  7. What is incorrectly labeled a “streetcar line” is actually the abandoned roadbed of Southern Pacific’s former West Side Branch which ran down 4th Street in Portland before entering upon private right of way, climbing the eastern face of Portland’s West Hills and then turning westward through Bertha, Shattuck, Raleigh to Beaverton and then on to Hillsboro, Gaston Carlton, McMinnville, Corvallis and, at its zenith, all the way to a junction with the Coos Bay Branch in west Eugene. The segment seen in this photo and also photo #39 (the linked photo) was part of a 4.49-mile section of the branch between 4th and Jefferson Streets and Bertha abandoned in 1929. The grade shown in the picture was some of the oldest railroad infrastructure built in Oregon. It was constructed by the Oregon Central Railroad Co. (the West Side version of OC) beginning in April of 1868 and saw its first train operation in December 1871. The “streetcar” reference alludes to the line’s inclusion in Southern Pacific’s creation of an electrified interurban rail system in the Willamette Valley beginning in 1912. Electrification of lines continued through 1913 and electrified trains began running in January 1914. Ultimately, the electrification extended to Corvallis. Although SP’s Red Electric interurban trains drew electricity from an overhead catenary like a streetcar, to refer to them as streetcars is a misnomer because they were much larger and heavier than ordinary city street rail vehicles. That said, they did operate on trackage laid in the streets of Portland, Hillsboro, Forest Grove, Newburg and Corvallis. Red Electric operation on the roadbed pictured ended in July 1929 and abandonment of the track soon followed. Although a railroad existed in the pictured location for approximately 62 years, only the last 16 years involved the electrified interurban operation. The previous 46 years saw steam-powered freight and passenger trains over the line.

    It’s true that much of the roadbed pictured became utilized by Barbur Boulevard and Bertha Boulevard, but it was the right of way of the Oregon Electric Railway that eventually hosted today’s Interstate 5.

  8. I think igor got it right. The white house in the center of igor’s image just above Barbur appears to be the same house that is to the right of the people in today’s image. That house, built 1895, remains today at SW Hamilton Terrace. Also, I made a mistake in an earlier post. I should have stated “former streetcar line” instead of “proposed streetcar line”.

  9. Igor, I also think that’s the same house. And Dan, thanks for supplying the Google Maps to the same house, still there today! I love that aerial view of mid-1930s Barbur Blvd. (seen above). The view from northbound Barbur of those houses off Hamilton hadn’t changed that much in the 1950s-early ’60s. Growing up in S.W. Portland in the ’50s and ’60s we passed this way in the family Ford countless times on our way into town from Hillsdale and Maplewood/Vermont Hills where we lived. So today’s VP photo was taken on what was later to become Barbur Blvd. just south of its intersection with Hamilton.

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