"Boulevard Drive is Recommended", 19 March 1916. In which the Oregonian presents yet another thrilling adventure for the modern motorist. Basically you start at Broadway & Oak (at today’s Benson Hotel), head north and cross the Broadway Bridge, then turn north on Williams Ave. and make your way north and west to Willamette Boulevard (via one of today’s trendiest, most hipster-infested neighborhoods). Stay on Willamette Blvd. until you get to St. Johns. Then make your way to Columbia Blvd. and head east, admiring various scenic views along the way. Keep going east when Columbia merges into Sandy Blvd. When you get to Fairview, head south until you’re in Gresham. Then turn west on Powell and head back to town. Making sure to cut up to Hawthorne at some point since the Ross Island Bridge doesn’t exist yet. And then it’s off to the bar to regale everyone with tales of your adventures on the Eastside.
These are actually much better directions than the article provides, and I’m terrible at giving directions. It seems that for a brief time people thought an odometer reading was a good substitute for actually giving people the names of the streets they were supposed to turn onto. So if you’re thinking about recreating this heroic journey in 2012, you’ll need to find your own way from Willamette Blvd to Columbia Blvd in the wilds of St. Johns. Which is actually pretty hard if you don’t know the crazy street grid up there.
The article sort of shrugs and suggests you drive back from Gresham any way you prefer, I guess figuring the scenic part of the voyage is over at that point. Contrast this with a previous motoring odyssey from 1914, in which readers were given careful instructions on how to drive to Gresham on Division and then return on Powell. Oh, how the sophisticated motorists of 1916 must have rolled their eyes at the innocent bygone days of 1914. If you’re trying to figure out exactly when Portland lost interest in Gresham as an exotic distant locale, I think we’ve narrowed the date down to within a two year bracket here.
I should note that the (poorly) detailed instructions were provided by a pair of gentlemen from the local Paige Motor Sales Co. at 5th & Washington. And since the internet is what it is, there’s a detailed website about the history of the Paige Motor Co., with a page about the firm’s various 1916 models. The high-end model topped out at a whopping 29 horsepower, similar to a modern riding lawnmower.
In any case, the full excursion will take you precisely 42.0 miles, and — due to all the scenery you’ll want to stop and gawk at — they estimate it’ll be a three hour tour, a three hour tour…