Saturday, October 13, 2018

Portland, Oregon - January 1956

I found a few slides marked "Portland, Oregon", and dated 1956. I particularly liked this first moody photo in the snow, with the vintage Richfield gas station in the foreground. Looking for further clues to try to find this street, I saw the Christian Science Reading Room in the distance, as well as the Dutch Inn Hotel. I was gettin' nowhere fast! (Look at the sign for the Civil Defense "Emergency Route" - in case the Russkies invaded?). 

While looking for Richfield stations in Portland, I found a website called It showed a different Richfield station (converted into a "Battery X-Change" shop). On a whim I decided to contact the website and see if my photo rang any bells.

A friendly and helpful woman named Debra Seltzer knew just where that was, based on the partial sign in the background ("BUR...."). This is on Burnside Street at the corner of SW Vista Avenue, looking eastward. The taller buildings on the left side of the street are the same ones we see in photo #1. Here's a Google Street View:

The Richfield Station is long-gone... it would have been right about where that sign for "Zapan's Markets" is.

A second scan revealed a corner of the same gas station, but this  time we can see a rather impressive edifice - the "Envoy" - a luxury apartment building from 1929 (the year the Great Depression began!). You can read more about the history of it HERE.

Using Street View, we can see that the Envoy is still there, still full of luxury condos (and apartments). I had to move up the street a bit so that we could see it from Burnside Street.

And finally here's another shot from snowy Portland. I couldn't figure out which street this was, but I'm OK with it.

I hope you've enjoyed your visit to Portland!


Nanook said...


What fun pictures. The snow-covered 1954 beauty (most-likely in Goldenrod Yellow), is a Ford. And in the second original image, we've got a 1954 Chevrolet in front of the Town Record Shop - which seems to be a part of Town Pharmacy. (Shades of Tower Records, originally a part of Tower Drugs in Sacramento...) And sitting front-and-center is a swell blue/white 1954 Ford Skyliner - hubba, hubba. Heading-off to the right is another white/blue 1955 Chevrolet. In the final image, facing us on the left is a black-? 1953 Oldsmobile.

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

We had an art deco (or is that streamline moderne?) gas station just like that one, in my hometown. They tore it down only about ten years ago, which proves that they really do ruin everything!

I love Seattle and I've been told by a couple people, that if I love Seattle, I would love Portland. I forget now, what their reasons were. I still haven't made it up there, but perhaps one of these days I will. Thanks for the "before and after" shots, Major. You know I love 'em!

Irene said...

Well speaking of Portland - that's where I am right now! Actually Beaverton which is to the southwest of Portland but close enough. We drove through Portland from the east during late afternoon rush hour traffic!!!! Yowser. But it is lovely up here and unseasonably warm for this time of year, in the 70's. We've been here since Friday to visit friends and relatives. Going to drive up to see Mt. St. Helens today. Planning to leave Monday to begin heading south toward home.

Warren Nielsen said...

Irene, with the weather we are enjoying up here right now, you will be impressed with a visit to Mt. Saint Helens. Right up against the foot of the mountain with the crystal blue sky beyond, and right in the path of where the peak blew out in 1980. Very moving to see the amount of destruction that happened, and attempt to grasp the power unleashed. We heard it when it blew, and we are about 120 miles away.


Dean Finder said...

We're in the first few cold days of fall in NJ, and the dark overcast skies and snow of the first image just filled me with a sense of dread for the looming winter.

JC Shannon said...

I guess we can add sleuth to Major's resume. Great job tracking down info on an otherwise anonymous photo. Before and afters are so cool. Given that the Envoy is still standing probably means it has been Landmarked. The only way to save beautiful buildings in most cities anymore. Love the wet snow in the last shot, it reminds me of Spring in Montana. Thanks to Major for the scans.

K. Martinez said...

My sister and other relatives live in Portland, Oregon so I've been there a few times to visit them. It really is a cool and fun city. My sister moved up there from L.A. in the early 1990's like lots of other Angelenos did.

Irene, I hope the weather is good and the sky clear for you to get a good view of Mount St. Helens up close. It is truly a wonderful experience seeing that mountain in person. One of my favorite places to visit as long as the weather (visibility) cooperates.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I thought that perhaps that “goldenrod yellow” car was a taxi cab! No such luck, apparently. That Skyliner looks pretty sweet, with the glass roof (for those who don’t really want a convertible).

TokyoMagic!, I believe that streamline moderne is a category of art deco. It sure seems like I’ve been reading about a lot of classic L.A. buildings getting torn down in the rush to build more and more “luxury” apartments and condos in the trendier parts of town. One of my good friends likes Seattle a lot, but said that she wants to live in Portland. Maybe because it is a little weirder?

Irene, I have spent very little time in Oregon - mostly to visit my sister’s in-laws when her kids were getting baptized. My guess is that many of Portland’s more recent arrivals are former Californians - - “Californians ruin everything” seems to be the mantra in many places.

Warren, I’ve read so much and watched many videos about when Mt. Saint Helens blew - what an amazing natural event. While it is tragic that 57 people died, I think it’s kind of astonishing that the number was not higher.

Dean Finder, I’ve never experienced winter in New Jersey, but I lived in Pennsylvania for years, and I used to love winter! Of course I was a kid and didn’t have to commute anywhere. Come to California for a vacation!

Jonathan, I can take no credit… Debra Seltzer (mentioned in the post) helped me figure these out. She was very nice! I would love to see what the apartments and condos look like in the Envoy - they might be pretty plush.

K. Martinez, now that my niece goes to college in Oregon, maybe I will have an excuse to go up and pester her! Won’t she be thrilled, ha ha. I used to love to read about how the land near Mt. Saint Helens has recovered since the explosion in 1980.