Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sunnyside Trolley No. 656 stopped at SE 33rd & Belmont, c.1915

The building(s) to the immediate left are, of course, gone today, having given way to the Belmont Dairy, which was susequently converted and renovated into a Zupan's.

This picture surprised me because the buildings on the block on the left are totally intact and standing today.

Car 656 was a 1911 America Car Co. Class K, the same make and model as the cars which were involved in the three-trolley orgy of destruction at the end of 1915.

Photographs such as this drive home to me the rather obvious fact that we modern-day Portlanders are (still) living in the Portland built about 100 years ago: a surprising number of the buildings still stand, and the various commerical districts are essentially clustered around trolley stops or junctions.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Public Utility Building.
920 SW 6th Ave.

Built in 1928 by Portland Railway, Light and Power Company (today's PGE), the neon crown atop it (proudly? defiantly? hubristically?) trumpted POWER, HEAT, LIGHT, GAS in each cardinal direction. This was the building built by the trolleys that built Portland, make no mistake.

At 16 stories of Italianate power, in 1957 the lower north and south wings were raised to their current height of 12 stories each.

Today its sort of boxed in by taller, more modern (and blander) buildings.


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sellwood Trolley Barn

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the barns viewed from the west.

In 1905 the Oregon Water, Power & Railway Company constructed a large complex for its southern east side operations. In addition to a power substation (still standing today, safe on PGE property) and administrative building (still standing, albeit remodeled into offices spaces), a cavernous trolley barn was built between the two smaller buildings. Although this building was just recently demolished, GoogleMaps' satelliete option still shows the barn.1

Most likely, cars of the Sellwood, Eastmoreland, and Errol Heights Lines operated from this barn, in addition to housing cars from lines running further north. Also, at adjacent Golf Junction, passengers transferred to the Estacada and Cazadero (both running east) Interurban lines.

The following detail from a 1918 PRL&P Co. map details the complex network of tracks that fed over 100 trolleys serving the whole city into this (along with four others) barn.

The cars either entered through the west side of the barn (the majority of feeder tracks, there), or the northern east front (perhaps an exit, only?).2 Here's "Car Barn B," on the west side of the building, to the extreme south. One can tell this from the first photo at the very top, as there is the long wall on the left.

Next, we have "Car Barns B & C," although, based, again, on the very first photo, this appears to be the barn entrance to the left of "Barn B." In the first photo, there's what appears to be a fourth, smaller entrance to the right of "B." Is this "Barn A?"

This was the last standing trolley barn in Portland, and would have qualified for Portland's registry of historic buildings. Last leased to a plastics company facilty, the property was donated to Reed College by the property's owner, and shortly after the plastics company went into bankruptcy.

Assessment revealed hydraulic oil, toluene, and lead under the building and in the soil, as well as substantial amounts of asbestos in the building itself. The property was sold, cleaned, and finally demolished in 2005.3 The east-facing original wall has been left standing.

All that is left today (with new development going up) of this cavernous building today is the more southern part of the east wall, essentially the back of the building.4

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For what its worth, the adjacent power substation still stands.5

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As does the PRL&P administrative building, renovated and in use as office space.6

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1 I have (clumsily) saved said googlemaps image of the carbarn for viewing posterity.
2 Adventure! over at Platial beat me to the punch in mapping the still-visible tracks on Linn Street.
3 Read the article at PDXHistory detailing the demolition.
4 The remains of the trolley barn, at Platial.
5 The OWP power substation on Platial.
6 The renovated admin building on Platial.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Trolleys, Crashed!!

November 10, 1915.

Occurring at corner of S.W. 11th & Morrison.

Car 649, with a known history of brake problems, had reached the end of its line to the south at 13th and Hall St. The crew disembarked to victual at an adjunct small grocery. While inside, Car 649's brakes failed and the car began to roll away down the slope.

Gradually picking up sleep, Car 649 coasted a full sixteen blocks north until smacking into Car 659 at Taylor street. From there, this unholy union of two trolleys continued another three blocks before hitting a third, unspecified trolley at the intersecton of 11th & Morrison, bring this electrical trolley rampage to an end.

Six humans were also injured.

A crowd of locals gawks at the wreck in the upper left hand side of the photograph.

The New York Grocery appears to have the word MONOPOLY painted on its window.

Cars 649 and 659 were both America Car Co. Class Ks acquired in June of 1911. They were 45 feet long and approx. 8 feet wide, and weighed 39,875 pounds. They were gauged for narrow tracks (42" across). Seating capacity was 32 souls, 67 when loaded to standing room only.


Monday, March 20, 2006

Tebbett's Oriental Theatre.

The Oriental Theatre (S.E. Grand & Morrison) opened in 1927 with a capacity of 2,038. Not a movie house, but actual playhouse, it did not fare well in attempts to convert it to a cinema.

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The place had an absolutely lush Hindu-inspired architectural style, though, which I absolutely adore.

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The lounge of the Oriental.

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The main auditorium, "where the sound is better."

In this detail of the auditorium, check out the carved elephants!!

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Its so lavish its almost silly.

The lobby steps.

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In this c.1930 photo a streetcar makes its way through the intersection at Grand and Morrison. The Oriental is hidden but was to the right, next door to the tall building on the corner. In the distance on the right side of Morrison you can see a pyramidal roof. This is the building that today is Grand Central Bowling. Originally it was the Grand Central Public Market.

The last hurrah for the Oriental was in 1968-69, when the City leased it as a substitute while the Civic Auditorium was renovated. In 1970 its interiors were auctioned off and the building demolished for the parking lot that stands there today.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Old Morrison/Mt. Tabor Line Trolley Tracks.

S.E. 26th & Morrison.

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Narrow guage. Interesting because they run out of someone's driveway, across the street, and into the sidewalk of the southeast corner of Lone Fir Cemetary. Clearly, the street grid has shifted since this line was discontinued.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Old Trolley Tracks Under East Hawthorne Viaduct.

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This picture is facing east. These tracks clearly are coming from the Hawthorne bridge behind me, then curve south.

Being of a wider guage, this pair of old tracks most likely connect to the old Oregon City Interurban tracks, which was, after all, the last of the old electric trains to stop service.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Old Trolley Tracks Under Grand Avenue Viaduct.

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Remnants of the Bridge Transfer Line trolley tracks under the Grand Avenue Viaduct in SE Portland. The viaduct was completed c.1930, and the BT Line largely discontinued on and off again until 10 years later. The Viaduct is currently scheduled for heavy remodelling/reconstruction, and I suspect these tracks will either be paved over or torn up.

Unless someone proves me wrong, this two block strech of track is the largest section of original trolley track left in the city.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Bridge Transfer Line

PRL&P initiated this line in 1915 by merging parts of the existing Russell-Shaver and East Side Lines. It ran from its northern terminus at the vicinity of N. Larrabee and Mississippi down Grand Avenue to SE Woodward & 10th.

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In 1927 the Brooklyn Line was discontinued by PEPCO (PRL&P's sucessor) and folded into the Bridge Transfer Line, extending its southern terminus east on Powell and then south to S.E. 21st and Bush.

In 1937 conversion of the line to trolley bus began, but rationing and shortages during the Second World War saw the return of the trolleys, including the chipping out of paved-over tracks in some areas in 1941.

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Car No. 568 waitin for the thaw.

The line was converted to buses permanently in 1948.

A large section of narrow gauge tracks can still be seen today under the Grand Ave. Viaduct.