18 thoughts on “SW 3rd Avenue, 1915

  1. I think this is looking South from Yamhill. I believe the Lion’s Clothing Store on the right was located in the extant Semler Building.

  2. So cool. Can anyone pin down the exact location today? Was this type of illuminated street arch unique to 3rd Avenue? Unique to Portland? Or did other cities in the world have similar arches that were also light arches?

    Imagine having the job of lightbulb maintenance man.

  3. These arcs of hundreds of light above city streets must’ve been a trend of the times. San Jose, CA, had a similar arc-light fixture downtown over Santa Clara St., although this display seems more elaborate and very beautiful.

  4. This was a practical as it was aesthetic. Light bulb technology was quite young, and incandescent lights could only put out so many candlepower back then. The only way to get a lot of light from a single light source would have been an arc light, which were blindingly bright, noisy, and very dirty. By combining dozens of light bulbs these arches, along with being attractive, did a great job of providing good illumination, especially at intersections where it was needed the most.

  5. If you enlarge the photo on the left at the second arch there a two business signs for “Woolen Mill Store” & “Hart Schaffner Marx” In 1914 Oregonian ads the Woolen Mill Store gives their location as 3rd & Morrison and Hart Schaffner Marx is a brand of men’s suits sold by Sam Rosenblatt’s who give their location as the Northwest corner of 3rd. & Morrison. The would mean that this photo is looking north on 3rd.

  6. Pingback: SW 3rd Avenue, 1915 – Urban Fishing Pole Lifestyle

  7. This is one of the more interesting posts of this entire year. The perspective of the lights going up the street is fabulous, as are the neon lights and illuminated interiors of the nearest establishments.

    I could be mistaken, but it looks to me like some of the autos parked at the curb have their parking lights on while parked.

    I can see the appeal of having the streets illuminated like this during the night, as it is not only aesthetically pleasing but may have made shoppers & diners feel more secure, too.

  8. Curious – If they do exist they would likely be in the Oregon Historical Society Vault. Worth checking. It’s a wonderful place and periodically they have tours.

  9. That ‘log cabin’ was ‘Billy Winters log cabin’. He had an aquarium full of trout in there. A bottle from that establishment closed last week on e-bay at over a thousand dollars.

  10. The Oregonian gave some details on the Great Light Way on June 6, 1914 when the lights were first switched. The arches at the 10 intersections from Yamhill to Burnside cost $15,000 and each weighed nearly 5 tons, and were illuminated with (200) 40 watt bulbs and a (1) 750 watt bulb at the top. The 10 Great Light Way arches consumed 87,500 watt of electricity per hour.

    At a later date the Great light Way was extended to Everett st. The last remaining arches at Everett, Oak, and Alder were removed in mid October 1940 by order of the city council.

  11. I wonder if part of the reason the arches were removed was to protect pedestrians. Portland’s first traffic signal wasn’t installed until 1913, and those large posts look like they would effectively hide pedestrians waiting to cross busy streets with few signals.

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