16 thoughts on “Swan Island Airport, 1942

  1. Sure wish that they had not filled in Mocks Bottom, an essential wetland that is shown to the left of the Swan Island airfield.

  2. always am fascinated by early pictures of the Swan Island Airport. it’s very existeance that close to a city center, It’s art deco shapes. the life of at the dawn of airports.

  3. What a view! I see the huge Montgomery Ward store/warehouse on the right side of the photo over on the Westside. Lots of childhood memories there. Quite an unusual view — a different perspective — of Portland’s downtown just south the river’s curve.

  4. “Let’s put our main air transportation hub right in the narrow part of the river corridor, with lots of boat traffic, essential bridges, and the densest part of major city immediately adjacent.”.

  5. The record date for this photo is 6/9/1942 and on that date the Oregonian reported that the 8 way shipyard was 50% completed and there is a photo of the first keel plate being finished. The construction of the shipyard at Swan Island was announced only 2 months earlier on 3/4/1942.

  6. Dennis, I agree with you regarding your first comment about the placement of the airport. I think it represented earlier 20th century thinking, or not. Or maybe these transportation elements all just came together that way, without any coordinated planning. However, today’s historic photo is very interesting because it shows the placement of all of Portland’s important transportation links at that time — air, ships, rail, and trucks/autos — in one aerial photo, including the Swan Island Airport and the railroad-carrying Steel Bridge crossing the Willamette in the upper left of the photo.

  7. At the time built, Air Transportation was little more than expensive novelty.
    Its primary viable business purpose was airmail.
    They didn’t realise advancement in aircraft technology would be so rapid thus broaden the appeal of air transport.
    That airport operated only 15 years or so.

  8. Rocky, besides broadening the appeal of air transport, the advancements in aircraft technology also brought us passenger jets within a short 10-20 years, which could not use these short runways.

  9. Dominic: I know the placement of the Swan Island Airport seems silly through the lens of today’s Portland but when it was built, aviation was much different overall and commercial aviation was in its infancy. Here’s a story I wrote a few years back for The Oregonian about the history of Portland-area airports. It might help make some sense about what was going on in the 1920s, when the Swan Island Airport was constructed: https://www.oregonlive.com/history/2015/03/throwback_thursday_portland-ar.html

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