10 thoughts on “N Johnswood Drive, 1944

  1. A search through the Oregonian for this housing project for 1944 yields mostly classified ads for used cars and for Dalmatian dogs. However, one article corroborates Robert G’s comment about the quality of housing. It was printed on October 8, 1944 (p. 50) with the title “DREAM COME TRUE — BOYS WEAR BADGES: Natural Attraction of Red Engines for Teen-Agers is Directed Into Useful Channel in Local Federal Housing Projects; Respect for Property Instilled. Every city boy dreams of being a fireman. The dream has come true for boys in four federal housing projects within the city limits of Portland.. youths between the ages of 10 and 17 wear badges, respond to fire alarms and actually help put out fires.”

    After a couple of paragraphs touting the effort as a way to prevent boys from engaging in mischief, the article goes on to say:

    “It came about primarily as a result of some minor delinquency in the St. Johns Wood federal housing project. This is a middle-sized project, with 948 home units…. DEFENSE HOMES: Make Easy Target for Greedy Blaze: Temporary defense houses, because of light construction, may be wholly ruined in a few minutes if they catch fire. However, because they are low and simple in construction, blazes are quickly detectable and readily accessible. A home may be saved with a five-gallon pump can, whereas it may be past saving by any means, five minutes later. Speed is essential.”

    The rest of the article details how and where the boys are employed in fighting and preventing fire.

  2. “Johnswood Drive” conjures up pleasant images in the mind that are the complete opposite of the environment seen here; tiny box homes laid out in a dismal gridded landscape, with no “woods” anywhere.
    Reading the comments quoted here from newspaper articles of this time reflects a pretty disgusting cavalier attitude towards the people who lived here on the fringes of Portland society; however, the millions of homeless in the US today, don’t even warrant this.
    The homes that occupy these streets today appear to be closely spaced pre-fabricated one and two-story structures with lots of grass and trees everywhere and an abundance of cars lining the streets (very few garages/driveways). A house in this area today costs a minimum of $300,000.

  3. Gary Snyder, poet & essayist, lived in St Johns Woods with his mother & sister after his parents were divorced. His fire is still burning.,

  4. Why not give credit to Portland in 1944? They fueled the war effort and provided adequate housing for the workers who helped win the war. Instead of the positive, the focus is the ‘harsh’ 3 month winters of Oregon? The small homes look like they have fireplaces/woodstoves that kept them warm, maybe to the point of having to open a window to cool it down. Thank you to all who lived here and did their part in defeating the evil Axis powers of WW II.

  5. I have no idea where this was taken on Johnswood Drive, but here’s the view looking east from the intersection with N. Barr. I’m going to guess that none of these structures have (or were designed) to survive to today’s view

  6. Igor– These houses have all been torn down and this area is now a industrial – warehouse area north of Columbia Blvd. I looked a street map of the St. Johns Woods housing area and this corner today would be just north of Columbia Blvd. near N Buchanan. I looked at a old aerial photo from 1951 and these houses were still there, but all were gone in a 1960 aerial photo. The current address of the warehouse that occupies this area is 7543 N Upland.
    A little additional info Columbia Blvd in this area use to be named Swift Blvd.

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