Crews in 1947 work on the SW Harbor Drive overpass over SW Arthur Street, widening Harbor Dr. and building connections to the Ross Island Bridge. This section of roadway is now SW Naito Parkway and the view is to the southeast. Maybe half of the buildings we see here are still intact.
It’s almost hard to imagine today’s Riverplace and South Waterfront areas looked like this almost a half century ago. Construction of the west end of the Marquam Bridge passed over property that had seen highly industrial riverfront activity since Portland’s founding over a hundred years prior to this. The area once covered by Alaska Steel is still largely undeveloped but the SW Moody Project and TriMet’s light rail line signal further development.
The complex series of Steel Bridge ramps leading to and from Harbor Drive and NW Glisan Street is clearly illustrated in this 1952 aerial photo. The coal gas storage tank is long gone, along with every other building you see here. The Portland Classical Chinese Garden is on the block in the extreme lower right corner.
Vanport City wasn’t the only flood worry in 1948 (see yesterday’s post). City crews seen here were busy sandbagging along Portland’s west side sea wall two days before the Vanport disaster. Downtown was spared but some areas on both sides of the river weren’t so lucky. Here’s what it looked like a little downriver at the Broadway Bridge.
This 1944 photo shows where Harbor Drive and Front Avenue met at that time; we’re looking north. Southbound Harbor Drive emerges from the tunnel under Front on the left side. Front crosses over the tunnel in photo center, and Harbor Drive northbound angles off into the distance on the right. If you stood on the traffic island at Naito Parkway and Sheridan Street today, you’d be in just about the same spot this photographer stood, although I-405 traffic would be shooting by practically under your feet now.