13 thoughts on “Columbia Villa Housing, circa 1942

  1. There’s a good discussion about Columbia Villa at the “related” link labeled “Unidentified Building” above. One person there identified a woman in that day’s photo as his mother. I love it when VP commenters can make personal links to the photos like that!

  2. Wow! Back when houses were made completely out of wooden boards, sawed and nailed by hand. with no power tools, by skilled men called carpenters!

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  4. Construction skills like framing, drywall are great skills to possess and there have been a few times in my life when I wish I had them. Construction work has always been hard work, and modern tools only make the work go faster. Working in radiology I have seen the tremendous toll this type of work makes on the body over the years Accidents are horrific & happen very quickly when your tired, nearing the end of a day spent up on a roof with a nail gun. Young workers can get away with abusing their bodies only for so long, then with time, they have more aches and pains, and they find themselves having to continue working before injuries have fully healed and this lead leads to chronic conditions that will plague them all their lives.

    This looks to have been an ideal construction day, with only a few traces of damp ground here and there…I can just imagine what this site would look like after heavy rains – a muddy mess for sure.

  5. I would have like to have read Tim’s comment, I got here too late. Nobody mentioned that this is a very early use of color photography. The construction is the standard of the day with quality concrete foundations, with normal maintenance these buildings could easily last 100 years.

  6. The site plan for Columbia Villa shows several of these housing courts along N Woolsey. This photo has as quadplex in the center with 1 bedroom units on the left & right and the 2 story portion being 2 & 3 bedroom units. On the right in this photo is a single duplex with each having 2 bedrooms, and on the left in this photo would be 2 additional duplex units that also had 2 bedrooms, with some having a 3 bedroom side.

  7. My Mom lived and worked in Portland during WWII. According to Mom, because of the burgeoning shipyards and factories with their thousands of workers, Portland was a very busy, 24-hour city, with shops, movie theaters, eateries, grocery stores open almost 24-7. The shipyards ran day and night, with shifts getting off work and going to work throughout the day and night. The busses and streetcars were loaded with people of ALL races and colors coming and going to work and about their business. Quite a change from just a few years earlier! BTW, I sure appreciate this unusual color photo of Columbia Villa construction!

  8. Is this the earliest true color photograph in PARC’s collection? One other candidate would be the slide of the Skidmore Fountain from about the same year… how many early Kodachromes does PARC have?

  9. We lived in Dekum courts south of 27th and NE Dekum. It was a similar kind of development. Apartments now. And I can guess what the redacted statement was about. Columbia was pretty bad in the 80’s .A friend of mine was a postman there in the early 80’s where at Christmas time a female resident gave him a nude picture of herself for a card.

  10. DJ– The 85 unit Dekum Court housing project at 27th & Dekum was not built for shipyard workers, but was built for non-commissioned officers serving at the Portland Army Airbase (PDX). The project was put out for bid to contractors in November 1941.

  11. Chris Slama– The Oregonian in January 1942 had a story on the construction of the Dekum Court housing complex, and in the story they have a photo of a man operating a radial arm saw, were they indicate that there are 2 saws on this job cutting the lumber as shown in your posted video.

  12. the finest craftsmanship dose not exist today all building are ugly UNPLEASANT boxes of glass & metal the burnside bridge has some of the stupidest buildings ive ever seen bar none !

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