22 thoughts on “City Vehicle, 1927

  1. Here’s the 1927 Portland City Map from the second related photo–the answer is likely somewhere in here. I can’t find many clues in today’s photo, but homes with those steep sloped elevated yards and staircases always remind me of inner NE Portland. If this is a city-owned vehicle, it’s likely stored at a city-owned lot, and since the photo seems focussed on the vehicle versus documenting something at the street location, they most likely haven’t gone far from the where they store the car.

  2. It shouldn’t be too difficult to locate; just look for an upside down ladder leaning against a telephone pole. 🙂

  3. I cannot identify the car badge on the radiator, but the manual hand crank starter slot has been capped off, which means this car had an electric starter. The winged radiator caps like this online identify it as a Model T cap, and the car badge doesn’t appear to be FORD.

    Not being a native, I would guess this area to be in the historic Alphabet District or Irvington Districts. It would appear that the little carriage houses on the street have been long removed.

  4. Efiles identifies the car as a Chrysler circa 1927. This car looks to be a 1927 Chrysler– Model 50 — 2 door sedan.

    The location of the photo I have no idea, but it makes me wonder if the man behind the wheel is a numbers man, and the photographer got a quick photo of his associate while the were out taking their photos.

  5. The concrete work a little ways down the street on the right is pretty unique. That’s the only clue I can see. Could be inner NE, SE, NW or SW. And is that a little girl standing on the grass? or the back of a sign? or what?

  6. Dennis, I liked your idea about the Number Man enough that I reviewed all the Number Man posts here on Vintage PDX. Not the same guy. The Number Man is always wearing a pale Fedora sitting low enough on his head you can’t see the tops of his ears. And, of course this guy is missing glasses and the always present pipe.

  7. As for the location, efiles has another photo (not yet digitized) in the same container numbered just before this one titled “City vehicle from the rear”. Assuming it’s the same car maybe it would provide more information. Get someone to scan it.

  8. Dating the sidewalks might eliminate some areas. They look new here. Northeast walks mostly went in in the teens or before. But still it depends on the area.

  9. After a deeper dive, I surmise this city vehicle was stored at Stanton Yard, which is well documented by VintagePortland, which was located near the intersection of N. Kerby and N. Stanton. This is the same location of the City of Portland Fleet Services today.


    This part of Portland, formerly the city of Albina, was a more affluent residential neighborhood in 1927, pre-Depression, where the Eliot, Boise, and Irvington neighborhoods converge today. In following decades it become a more diverse post-WW2 neighborhood, the center of Portland’s jazz scene, before being largely demolished by urban renewal, primarily the Legacy Emanuel Hospital complex.

    My new conclusion and first guess is that the homes in today’s photo no longer exist, and would have been located in inner North Portland within a few blocks of N Kerby and N Stanton. If the homes still exist, my second guess is that they are in inner North or Northeast Portland, in the residential blocks along the north, east, or south perimeter perimeter of the hospital blocks.

    This was one of the more challenging and fun mystery locations, and hopefully someone still solves it!

  10. ssssteven when you enter “Numbers man” in the search box at the top side you will set that there was more than one numbers man, not just the pipe smoker with glasses.

  11. The Queen Anne house on the left side of the street are very typical of those we have in NW Portland – usually built in the late 1880s. I think this is NE, but would have to be an area which saw development fairly early – I’m going with Albina.

  12. I worked at Vernon K-8 in NE Portland for several years. It’s at 21st and Killingsworth. These homes look like they could be in that general vicinity. A similar location to this photo is at NE 20th and Wygant.

  13. Dennis, I was being a little tongue-in-cheek, but most of the Number Man photos are from 1929 (I assume the start of the project). It looks like there are two ‘NMs’ from ’29 (maybe a 3rd?) with the majority our pipe & glasses guy. The other guy also doesn’t appear to be the same fellow as in today’s photo, which is sometime in 1927.

  14. And I agree, the new sidewalks and freshly laid streets are not only a good clue, they may actually be the subject of the photo–the car positioned like a model, the roads and curbs look unblemished, the sidewalk beds have minimal vegetation. Portland had far fewer modern paved roads in 1927, all the more reason this might be nearer to the river or along a well-used avenue in an attractive neighborhood. If anyone knows how to research the paving projects of that year, we could narrow down possible locations…

  15. It looks like the Eliot neighborhood with the small Victorians. Around Rodney and Stanton. Albina would be my second guess

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