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Portland Oregon Street Scene: South West Stark Street

Today’s pre-war street scene takes us to Portland, Oregon for a circa 1940 view of the intersection of SW Stark Street and SW 5th Avenue which is located about ten blocks north of the center of the City’s downtown. Judging by the short shadows cast next to the people on the streets and sidewalks it appears to be lunchtime in the business district.

Automobiles on the street appear to date from about 1935 to ’40, also visible are a number of sedan deliveries dropping off supplies to the office buildings, and at least one taxi. Tell us what you find of interest in this photograph via Vintage Portland, courtesy of the City of Portland Archives.


23 responses to “Portland Oregon Street Scene: South West Stark Street

  1. Interesting image. Seems like a lot of men are turning to look over their shoulder . Like as if they all heard the same thing.

    • Good observation my guess is the paraphernalia on the roof of the second stopped vehicle, may be a loudspeaker. I like the attire of the gent on the right, crossing from right to left. Can’t claim to ever have made such an appearance.

      I’m not able to ID most of the makes (my reference book is on loan). Will say though, many are not Ford.

  2. Is that a 1936 Desoto/Chrysler taxi behind the 1937 Buick, front and center? All the men are wearing hats and suits, the ladies too, How formal dress was. My grandfather, the proud owner of a 1937 DeSoto, was a carpener and a high school teacher. When he worked as a carpenr he wore a dress shirt and a tie under his carpenter suit to show he was not just working class, as was the practice then.

  3. Hmm, yeah. Looks like something’s going on, doesn’t it?.
    Maybe that cop car just ‘lit up’ the (Buick?) sedan in front.

    • Traffic appears stopped and folks are crossing the street in all three intersections in view, so it looks like the lights are synchronized. No one in the crowd on the sidewalk at left seems to have noticed anything.

  4. Is that a police cruiser behind the car waiting for the pedestrian to cross?? Maybe the cop gave him a short blast of the siren signaling him to pull over across the intersection?? That might draw a few rubbernecks……

  5. The lead car facing the camera looks like a 1937 BUICK with an extra central bumperette. Following this car looks like a 1936 DeSOTO Airstream taxicab.

  6. I think the police car or taxi? is a 1938 Nash, hard to tell which model, it’s not 1937 because those had vertical bar grilles, and it can’t be a DeSoto because they had single flat glass windscreens and the pictured car has a split windscreen.

    • Robbie, Thanks for your ID which is always appreciated.

      Now that you and Mark Dawber, another knowledgeable enthusiast have both identified this car as an NASH, I am left to wonder if a big city like Portland would buy them for use as police cars? It sounds like an an odd choice without having the time to check out if the Nash possibly had a performance advantage over of other cars of the period?

    • When I said 1936 DeSotos didn’t have split windscreens I missed the Custom Airstream that did, but amongst other differences, the 1938 Nash had the rear door hinge at the belt line, like the pictured car and the DeSoto had it higher up, it also had the very distinctive pennon-style hood louvers.

  7. The panel truck looks like a mid 30’s Chevy, and aside from possibly the pickup on the right, I don’t see one outside rear view mirror. Not even the cop.

  8. Great shot, love these looks back. Everybody sure dressed if they were going to be out and about. I remember my mom wearing gloves to go out, especially to church or an important appointment . By the mid 60s it seemed only men of an age wore hats, and usually only for a funeral or other formal event, at least in my family. I worked for a grocer who always wore a hat, shirt and tie under a long white lightweight coat, slacks and dress shoes. He drove a huge 58 Fleetwood 60S. Anyway, thanks for posting these.

  9. The cop car/taxi, looks like a 1938 Nash, the grill on some models had horizontal bars, and the main surround has a slight curve at the top to the rear , and it also seems to have a split rear window ..

  10. Easily seen: on this “not so stark – Stark street” were: the Red & Green (only) Traffic Signals, including a signal-light “change bell , (one ding!) THESE were the: “El Cheap-o”— Models as: they did not include the : Semaphore “paddle signs ” “GO “:white with black lettering , “STOP” , red with whlte letters , which were all over Los Angeles, when I began driving . Early on, the ding- bell “rang”, but they were disconnected, – because of “practical jokers” (idiots!) installing “ding” bells on their Model “T” Fords, to make others stop — when it: Wasn’t “time” yet ! This caused: Serious wrecks, injury & deaths , so although you see the bell — they were all disconnected! Edwin W.

  11. I don’t think that is a police vehicle. After doing some research, no photos of Portland police cars had anything mounted on the roof. Plus the doors were painted white with the city seal. This 1940 photo shows a good example: http (colon slash slash) cdn (dot) onlyinyourstate (dot) com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Police_officer_in_front_of_patrol_car-700×585.jpg

  12. Love seeing the ’38 Chevy (1st car parked on the right). Had one in high school in the early ’50’s, shaved the trunk, added Terraplane taillights, split the exhaust manifold and painted in gray primer. Slow as molasses, but sure sounded fast. The bouncy knee action front end got to me finally, sold it for $50.

  13. The sign at the right advertises the “Turf” Smoke Shop and Restaurant. Seems odd today but I guess that’s the way it was back then.

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