“TV to ‘See’ for Curious”, 9/21/1961. Portland Federal Savings and Loan had just begun construction on a swanky modern headquarters building at 444 SW 5th, at the corner with Washington St. To show the world just how modern and forward-thinking they were, they pointed a TV camera at the construction site, and installed a TV in their current branch nearby, so the public could watch the new building come together via the modern marvel of closed-circuit TV. So this was essentially a 1961 version of a construction webcam.
Before the new building could go in, they first had to demolish the historic, but run-down Perkins Hotel building, which was the subject of an interesting Vintage Portland post (with a color photo) from a couple of years ago.
While searching around for info about the building, I bumped into this photo of a couple of Portland Federal Savings matchbooks, which show the new building as a symbol of the bank. An MCM League photo shows a Portland Federal branch from the same era, done in a similarly modern style, on a smaller scale.
Portland Federal Savings is long gone, but the building is still around. It’s now known as Washington Center, and houses a KeyBank branch, a business college, and a few small businesses in the adjacent shopping plaza on the 4th Avenue side of the block.
“Architect’s Drawing of One of Four Proposed Public Rest Rooms is Completed”, Feb. 15th, 1920. The drawing is barely legible in this reproduction, but it shows the still-extant pair of “comfort stations” in Ankeny Park, the southernmost North Park Block [link goes to an old 2006 blog post I did about the park]. The buildings have been closed for a couple of years, after the opening of the shiny new “Portland Loo” a few blocks north of here. The city’s supposedly going to redesign this block someday, if they find the money, and at that point I expect they’re going to demolish these old buildings. I mean, I don’t really see how you could turn them into a McMenamins or anything. I do hope they keep or reuse the funky little double-sided fountain between the two buildings, at least. The full text of the caption reads:
Plans have been completed by Park Superintendent Keyser for beginning construction of the first of three proposed comfort stations in the downtown area. The plans for this rest station on Park, West Park, Ankeny and Burnside streets have been completed, and it is expected that work will begin within a few weeks. Tentative estimates place the cost of the building at approximately $25,000.
The city council has virtually decided to build another comfort station at Broadway and Stark street; another at Third and Alder, and the fourth, if built, will be at West Park and Alder streets.
The city officials ope to have the comfort stations completed before the convention season in June, and hence the contracts for the work will be let within the next ten days, it is announced.
As far as I can tell, the other proposed stations were never built.
The thing that always surprises me is how quickly the city used to move when it decided to do something. Today we’d have years of architects and designers and assorted “stakeholders” wringing their hands, and public hearings, visioning processes, group therapy sessions, and so on, and so forth. In 1920, though, they hired an architect in late January, had buildable plans in hand less than a month later, and were ready to bid the construction contract. Granted the end result has been a big public nuisance and eyesore for much of the last century, but still, it’s kind of amazing how quickly they put it together.
Other things haven’t changed a bit. By October of 1921, the city council was debating deep cuts in the city parks budget, and the growing “comfort station” line item was singled out for criticism. Based on their current condition you wouldn’t think the city had spent any money at all on them after building them, but apparently there were actual washroom attendants at one point.
Numbering among the stranger proposed budget cuts, city commissioners also voted to eliminate gold and silver medals awarded to sharpshooters, along with some semaphore platforms the city was thinking about building. The commission also considered cutting funds to replace the linoleum floor in the city auditor’s office, but relented after inspecting the existing floor and seeing what bad shape it was in. Which I guess is yet another glamorous part of being an elected city official. Or something.
“Breathe Easy but Sensibly”, June 29th 1980. Mt. St. Helens famously erupted on May 18th, 1980, but the Portland metro area didn’t see significant volcanic ash until the smaller eruption on June 12th. A couple of weeks after that, the Oregonian turned its attention to the problem of all that lingering ash, collecting expert advice about any possible health risks from the stuff. General consensus was that while the ash wasn’t exactly good for you, it probably wasn’t harmful at levels the typical person would experience. People who would be out in it for long periods of time were advised to think about getting a respirator. The photo with the article (above) shows a variety of masks and respirators, modeled by someone with a local industrial supply firm.
Front page of the Oregonian, August 7th 1945
March 19th, 1960: The 1960 Portland Home Show featured a model nuclear fallout shelter for your family. If anyone ever tries to tell you things were so much better 50 years ago, feel free to laugh and slap them silly.
Ad for a swanky ViewMaster 3D camera, 3/20/1955. You already knew ViewMaster was founded here, right?
“Epochal Soviet Flight Ends”, June 21st 1937. Front page story about the Soviet Chkalov expedition, the first intercontinental flight over the north pole, The 63 hour flight departed Moscow and landed at Pearson Field in Vancouver, Washington (rather than Oakland, their original destination). If you fly between Europe and the West Coast, you’ll fly more or less the same great circle route Chkalov and his crew pioneered. Except, of course, that there aren’t any direct flights between here and Moscow.
There’s an obelisk commemorating the flight at Pearson Field, and a nearby road has been named Chkalov Drive since the 1970s.
“Hang On Folks! More Rain’s Due!”, June 19th, 1937. In which we’re reminded — yet again — that disappointing June weather is a perennial thing in this part of the world. Compare, for example, this photo I took earlier today.