25 thoughts on “SW Broadway, 1919

  1. I’m not sure what the handsome building on the left was, but that is where the “new” Heathman Hotel sits today.

    Heading further down the street on the left is the Heilig Theater which eventually became the Fox Theater prior to its demolition in the late 1990’s. The Fox Tower now occupies the entire block.

    The Orpheum and adjacent Royal Building was demolished in the 1970s and Nordstrom’s now occupies the entire block.

    I think the Hippodrome was the theater that had also been named “The Liberty” and was an early incarnation of “The Music Box” theater that was situated at Stark and Broadway. I believe it was demolished in the 1960s. The Union Bank of California Building occupies the spot today.

    Right side of the street.

    Renwick Hotel. I think this hotel and the adjacent Byron Hotel (out of frame to the right) were demolished in the 1920s so the Broadway Theater could be constructed. The Broadway was demolished in the late 1980s and the 1000 Broadway Building (colloquially known as the Ban Rollon Building) occupies the entire block today.

    The brick building directly down from the Renwick was the YWCA building. It was adjacent to the YMCA building which faced 6th Avenue.

    Of course, the Jackson Tower still graces the Portland skyline.

    Portland Hotel, demolished in the early 1950s for a two story parking garage to serve the customers of Meier & Frank. Today’s Pioneer Courthouse Square.

    The American Bank Building is the tall building down from the Portland Hotel. It was constructed around 1911 after the catastrophic partial collapse of the Marquam Building.

  2. Be sure to look at all the comments posted by VP readers in 2017 in the Related item — “The Hippodrome Theatre, 1919.” I haven’t followed all the links there, but they look tempting!

  3. Taking a second look at the enlarged photo, it appears the Hippodrome was actually the previous name of what became the Orpheum (Hippodrome appears on the marquis overhanging the sidewalk). The Orpheum sign is referring to another iteration of the Orpheum, which might have been the name at that time of what eventually became known as the Liberty Theater previously discussed. It may also be advertising the theater built as the Marquam Grand (which was the only surviving portion of the Marquam Building), but was later renamed the Orpheum.

    As you can see from the over-street Heilig sign, those street-crossing signs weren’t necessarily at the location of the theater they were advertising.

  4. I wonder what the young boy on left is doing between the parked cars? He looks like he’s holding a stick and chalk marking tires.

    The car nearest the camera on the right has some sort of oriental-looking ornament dangling from a zipper on the driver’s side. This car looks very new to me and it’s the only car with a rectangular plate mounted on the rear fender. It also has quite an assemblage of lights mounted at the front of the cab. Is this an unmarked police car or something I wonder; and is that the corner of an arm of an occupant seen in the photo?

    They certainly went overboard with their flag waving back in these times.
    The large arching theater signs certainly stand out and dominate the street, and the street cars were still in use.

    Looks like a cold and overcast winter day.

  5. Wow. It’s a mea culpa day for me today. I was thinking we were a block further South than shown in the photo. The “handsome building” referenced in my previous comment is the United Carriage Building and it lives on today as the flagship Columbia Sportswear Company store! That means the Renwick and Byron hotels were where the Hilton currently stands.

  6. Jim– The building on the left side of the photo is the 1891 United Carriage Building on the corner of SW Broadway & Taylor, and is still standing today and is the location of the Columbia Sportswear store. The Heathman hotel is one block south at SW Broadway & Salmon.

    The large number of American flags displayed could be because President Woodrow Wilson visited Portland on September 15, 1919. There was a parade and motorcade on several downtown streets including Broadway. After the parade President Wilson and a 50 car motorcade proceeded out Sandy Blvd. to Troutdale and onto Crown Point for a visit to the Vista House, and returned to the Hotel Portland via Gresham on Powell Valley Road. I found it interesting that on the 57 mile round trip it was written that the vehicles reach speeds as high as 20-25 mph.

    This photo could have been taken before or after the Presidential visit.

  7. Dennis, given that Christmas holiday decorations are beginning to appear in the street, it might be more likely that the flags are being displayed for Armistice Day (Nov. 11th). This would be a fairly big deal, being just one year after the end of WWI.

  8. And note the “Orpheum-Vaudeville” sign is in the middle of being repainted. Maybe the paused the project for an upcoming/recent parade?

  9. Pingback: SW Broadway, 1919 – Urban Fishing Pole Lifestyle

  10. Jay– Broadway saw both a motorcade for President Wilson and the Armistice day parade in 1919, but news stories around Armistice day in Portland reveal city leaders asked citizens to make noise and display flags. The Oregon Journal on 11/9/1919 (p 9) two days before Armistice had this story “Many Unaware Armistice Day Proclaimed Holiday”. I did not locate a story about Portland being festooned with flags for Armistice Day, but they had a story about the Denver parade being festooned with flags.

    During the visit of President Wilson there is mention of people waving flags from building windows, and on his route all the way to Parkrose.

    Looking at the garland hanging along the street they appear to have flower baskets which may be to late in the season for Armistice day.

  11. I think “Orpheum” refers to the vaudeville chain and not the specific theatre. Eventually the Orpheum was built and operated by the chain. In later years, the Orpheum vaudeville chain became the “O” in R-K-O movie studio and that was bought by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz to form the Desilu Television studio. Lots of history, here.

  12. nice perfect old beautiful classical stone brick cast iron buildings on both ends of the street !!
    no post modern boxy greasy ugly cold & calculated minimalist architecture

  13. I just love old theaters there unique !! don’t know why they were all demolished but the paramount theater survived the wreaking ball some how its really amazing what we do to such well built & hand crafted buildings that are still standing 100 years or more ! now we build things that don’t more than 20 years maybe in the future better quality classical architecture will make a great come back soon I’m sooooo tiered of seeing
    cold boxy sheet metal loud colored buildings & homes being built all over the place that replace great old ornate buildings & homes bridges built long ago !

  14. building with tower on the right: Jackson Tower; home of the Oregon Journal. The J always said they were on Yamhill Street; began in the Goodenough (sp?) bldg on Fifth and Yamhill; built the Tower in 1912; then the Public Market bldg. Yamhill at Front Street.
    Source: December 1947 “The Newsroom Dragonfly”

  15. Jay- The the garlands and hanging baskets were not put up for President Wilson or Armistice day, but were put in place for the 1919 “Victory Rose Festival” in June with Military parades on several streets including Broadway. Newspaper photos show the garlands strung between street light posts.

    Oregonian May 13, 1919 (p 4 ) excerpt
    The Plan of street decorations is under direction of W. E. Conklin. It includes a wealth of patriotic colors and a beautiful arrangement of vining garlands and hanging baskets in which are growing flowers strung along the streets. Perhaps the garlands were left in place for several months.

  16. Such a scene, so much to ponder!

    First, I’ll mention all the retractable awnings, both for shop entrances and windows above.

    Second, I’m not sure of the exact date, but I can tell you this photo was taken at 11:34 am.

    Third, there are some very interesting, unusual, ornate, lights, shaped like flowers with leaves. One is upper left, another upper left center, and one more on the upper right side. Anyone know anything about those?? Out of all the antique lighting I’ve ever seen along Broadway, I’ve never seen those. They seem to be almost floating, like not attached to buildings other than by wires.

    James Beard, is 16 years old, born and raised five blocks west, undoubtedly frequented this scene often, taking an early interest in theater, before becoming the world’s first television cook. Mel Blanc, just 11 years old, could be the boy between the cars, re-enacting a nickelodeon reel, unaware he’ll be a local radio vaudeville star and legendary cartoon voice actor. And Clark Gable, 17, has just seen The Bird of Paradise, inspiring his acting career, and in three years he’ll be on Broadway–this one, not that one–selling ties at Meier & Frank and starting his road to fame.

    Three years earlier than this photo, President Woodrow Wilson was in the White House, pushing a telegraph button to lower an American flag over Shepperd’s Dell in the Columbia Gorge as the men that made the road possible–Lancaster, Hill, Benson, et al–took the inaugural drive. And, despite much larger national and international issues on his mind, I bet the boy inside our 28th president could hardly wait to see the Columbia Scenic Highway, Multnomah Falls, but perhaps most of all, the bridge and waterfall and most generous gift from the poor humble farmer George Shepperd. And after the above-mentioned presidential parade up Broadway in 1919 and the “high speed” 25 mph drive out to Troutdale, I can only imagine the anticipation and expression on his face when Woody finally saw what he dedicated three years prior.

    Some wonderful background history, and a photo of the flag, here:

  17. Dennis, thanks for the deep dive into what exactly might be the occasion for the flags and decorations. Your conclusions make sense.

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