8 thoughts on “Harbor Wall, 1935

  1. Interestingly, the e-files copy labels this picture: Crew constructing ornamental balustrade from SW Jefferson St to NW Glisan St.

    On November 26, 1935 (p. 1), under the headline 5000 MEN START ON WPA PROJECTS, The Oregonian reported that “Two hundred men appeared at the harbor wall to begin the construction of a three-foot railing which will surmount the wall. The first task was to build tool sheds.”

    The paper reported on January 29, 1936 (p. 11) “SEAWALL RAILING NEAR COMPLETION: $60,000 Project Handled by WPA: Harbor Line Beautified and Protection Offered — Construction of an ornamental reinforced solid concrete railing 3-1/2 feet with heavy bases for ornamental light standards along the top of the harbor wall, from the foot of Jefferson street to the Steel bridge, is expected to be completed in about two weeks.

    “The project is being done for the city of Portland by the public works administration, involves an expenditure of about $60,000 for labor and materials, and provides work for about 100 men, according to L.G. Apperson, city engineer…. The railing practically completes the harbor wall project as it was originally planned about eight years ago, and is designed to hold back flood waters of the Willamette river….”

    This article is accompanied by two photographs, one of which shows a work crew in a similar situation to today’s VP post. A couple of online calculators puts $60,000 in 1935 between $1,138,000 and $1,150,000 today.

  2. The men in this photo I believe are building a tool shed as mentioned in the November 26, 1935 story that Liz found, also there appears to be a pile of possibly shovels next to the stack of lumber.

  3. I wonder what was on top of the seawall prior to the building of of the ornamental balustrade? I’m assuming there must have been some sort of railing.

  4. Interesting close up of the old Morrison Bridge. The structure looks pretty light by today’s standards. It appears to be only two lanes wide and vehicles were smaller and lighter in 1935. Bridge designs may also have been less conservative when it was constructed.

  5. Interesting details abound here. The fellows seem to be enjoying a break in the weather on a raw November day judging from the pile of rain gear. The lumber pile reveals that the outside stack consists of flooring and the remainder is siding. The nail keg is either upside down (likely) or still intact. The partly open tool chest provided the heavy duty tools in evidence.
    The assembly of supervisors present here tells us this was a staged “photo op”. There is no way this crew of craftsmen needed this much supervision, if they needed any at all.

  6. The people working in today’s photo had just returned from the Thanksgiving holidays and that’s never easy to do; and there’s actually a supervisor in a trench coat carrying some boards in his hands.

    Four years later (1939), FDR through the country into turmoil (for 2 years) when he announced that he was moving Thanksgiving ahead by one week (by proclamation). This was an attempt to increase business by giving people more shopping days before Christmas. Here is a link with photos explaining how people reacted to this – not well – and prompted comments like these: “The date of Thanksgiving is sacred”, and there were comments comparing him to Hitler. https://www.vox.com/2014/11/26/7280561/franksgiving-fdr-thanksgiving

    News Headlines from Monday, November 25, 1935
    *Japan proclaimed the puppet state of East Hebei Autonomous Council in northern China.
    *After 11 years in exile, the newly divorced George II returned to Greek soil as King of the Hellenes at Corfu from London.[5]
    *Brazil declared a state of siege to fight a leftist uprising in the country’s north.[31]
    *The Mayor of Berlin Heinrich Sahm was expelled from the Nazi Party because his family was said to have bought from Jewish shops.[32]
    *German Olympic officials said that fencer Helene Mayer, despite being half-Jewish, would be allowed to compete for Germany in the 1936 Summer Olympics.[33]
    *Nazi Germany forbade Jewish artists from working under pseudonyms.[32]
    *Died: Iyasu V, 40, emperor-designate of Ethiopia

  7. Mike– There is a photo in the Oregonian from February 20, 1933 (page 12) of a ship at the seawall and it shows no railing, and here are a few articles prior to construction of the seawall railing.

    Oregonian December 20, 1934 Page 9
    Russell Stahl 30, fireman on the steamship Admiral Wiley was taken from the Willamette river at the foot of SW Pine street early yesterday by harbor patrolmen, according to police reports. He was given a hot bath and bed at the emergency hospital. Stahl it was reported accidentally fell into the river while walking along the seawall.

    Oregonian September 1, 1933 Page 5
    Fall Injures Man
    John Hughes about 35 was treated at St. Vincent’s hospital last night for head lacerations and a possible skull fracture when he fell from the seawall near the Steel bridge. He was taken to the hospital in an unconscious condotion.

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