Front Avenue, 1939

In 1941, the Oregon Art Project of the Works Project Administration wrote Portland’s Commissioner of Public Works and proposed that this photo of Portland’s Front Avenue be the basis of a painting for his office. The photo was taken two years earlier by Minor White (1908-1976), then employed as “creative photographer” for Oregon’s Federal Art Project, looking south from the Burnside Bridge. The painting apparently was not made before the WPA closed down, so White’s photograph preserved a view that was soon lost when the buildings were demolished and Harbor Drive opened. White went on to a distinguished career in photography, teaching, and writing. He and others included this iconic view in later retrospectives of his work, but its presence at PARC reminds us of its New Deal origins.

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Our guest contributor, Dr. Kenneth Hawkins, compiled the first archival inventory of Minor White’s WPA negatives at the Oregon Historical Society in 1979, before moving (as did White) from Portland to Rochester, New York, to pursue photography and studies. He joined the National Archives in 1993. Recently he has updated the inventory and mapped it to White materials in other repositories, now including PARC.

 

City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2001-008.202

City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2001-008.202

 

View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

Front Avenue, circa 1852

This image of Front Avenue comes from the book Portland – Its History and Builders Vol.1 by Joseph Gaston. The men in the image include W.S. Ogden, John Breek, Henry Corbett, Thomas Dryer, W.H. Barnhart, Adolph Miller, and Charles Bacon. Circa 1852.

 

City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2004-002.7736

City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2004-002.7736

 

View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

Barde Dock, 1927

In this photograph of the Barde Dock, you see a crane used during the construction of the Front Avenue sewer (this project brought us the Harbor Wall). This image is looking north. Several businesses, including the Zidell-Steinberg Company, Butzer’s Seed Store, and W. P. Fuller & Company, are visible in the background.

 

Front Ave Sewer Barde Dock showing the crane used in the construction, May 17, 1927 : A1999-004.245

Front Ave Sewer Barde Dock showing the crane used in the construction, May 17, 1927 : A1999-004.245

 

View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

Front and Morrison, 1894

Downtown Portland routinely experienced high water and this photograph from 1894 captures the challenges and adventures of flooded streets. This image was taken on Front and Morrison St. and comes from the book, Portland: Its History and Builders, Volume 1, by Joseph Gaston.

 

Flood scene at Front and Morrison, 1894 : A2004-002.7772

Flood scene at Front and Morrison, 1894 : A2004-002.7772

 

View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

SW Front & Vine, c1929

This 1929 photo shows a row of magnificent cast-iron fronted buildings along the east side of SW Front Avenue at the foot of Vine Street. Vine no longer exists but is a part of Ankeny Plaza between Ankeny and Ash Streets. From the left, the buildings are Dodd Block (1888), Cooks’ Building (1882), Ankeny & Watson Building (1868), and Central Block (1879) on the corner at Ash Street. All were demolished in 1942.

A2009-009.2495 Looking east at SW Front between Ankeny & Ash 1929(City of Portland Archives)

NW Front Ave & Flanders, 1912

This rather Gothic industrial scene shows the Portland Gas Company complex in Northwest Portland in 1912. We’re facing southeast, with Front Avenue going off to the right and Flanders Street making its unimproved way to the Willamette River on the left. As rough as the Boss Saloon probably was, the little building seemed to have some nice architectural details. The 1894 Burnside Bridge can be seen in the background.

A2004-002.6815 Boss Saloon and Portland Gas at NW Flanders and Front 1912(City of Portland Archives)