Portland Flourishes in the Forties - Our Home History

1941 - Waterfront from Hawthorne Bridge

Portland Flourishes in the Forties - Our Home History

10th & Hoyt - High Water - 1948
SW Park Block - 1940

Slingshotting out of the 1930s, Portland stood poised on the brink of economic boom. With World War II dominating the global perspective until 1945, our city encountered both the pains and prosperity of wartime.

A pair of Kaiser Shipyards along the Willamette led the Portland war effort, churning out Liberty class cargo ships for Great Britain and later the United States. Despite the vessel being slighted by President Roosevelt as "a dreadful looking object," its production ignited a serious growth spurt for us. Temporary housing sprang up to to accommodate the shipyard workers, and as a whole, Portland grew by 160,000 souls during the course of the war, reaching a population of 359,000 by its conclusion in 1945.

Picture - Top: St. John's Shipyard - 1943. Bottom: Temp Housing for Shipyard Workers - 1942

Portland Airport Opens in 1940 While the opening of the Portland Airport in 1940 was a high note, the tragic flood of 1948 caused catastrophic damage to surrounding areas (prompting President Truman to fly in and survey the damage) and managed to impede foot traffic all the way up to NW 10th.

On the housing front, the approachable ranch-style home continued to thrive in the post war construction boom, as the convenience of attached garages became increasingly commonplace. A bustling economy also contributed to the the incorporation of artistic flourishes that would eventually give birth to the mid-century modern in the 1950s.

Portland Roars in the 1920s - Our Home History

1926 - Opening of Burnside Bridge

1926 - Sellwood Bridge

1924 - Delivery Truck

1920 - Street Car

Portland Roars in the 1920s - Our Home History

" ...Portlanders were on the move! "

The dawn of 1920 saw Portland 258,000 citizens strong and along with gaining 50,000 more souls, the next ten years would prove to be an unparallelled decade of expansion for the City of Roses. 1926 marked the construction of the Burnside, Vista and Ross Island Bridges to complement the Sellwood Bridge, which was previously the only Willamette River crossing for miles in either direction. That same year, Portland achieved the progressive honor of having more cars per capita than Chicago or New York, widening her streets to accommodate the bustling traffic. Combined with the already thriving street cars, Portlanders were on the move!

1929 - Aerial of Harbor Wall (Waterfront)

This freshly-embraced mobility promoted an unprecedented population migration from rural areas, and this youthful generation was nothing if not modern. In addition to embracing technological advancements like the refrigerator and vacuum cleaners now with disposable bags, these new homeowners and their contemporary sensibilities gave birth to the American Craftsman.

In the aftermath of World War I, the Victorian construction style (and lifestyle) was in sharp decline. The thriving middle-class abandoned the foregoing generation’s Old World flourishes in favor of uncluttered practicality. Ceilings were lowered, porches simplified and accommodations for a domestic serving staff vanished in the light of new homemaking amenities.

1920's Craftsman-era Home Floor Plans

" ...the Craftsman introduced the breakfast nook... "

Armed with these advanced appliances, the Craftsman-era housewife shaped the footprint of the home. She had been transformed into a one woman army responsible for all the housework in addition to raising the children. Kitchens were integrated into the main home, built with open eyelines to the living spaces and the back yard. While the Victorian lifestyle demanded a separation between food preparation and dining, the Craftsman introduced the breakfast nook and with it a communal place for the family to gather while the housewives of the day practiced their multitasking art.

1929 - SE Portland Houses

Built to endure, Portland is still populated by these beautiful, practical, hardy homes. Whether updated with today’s amenities or retaining all their classic features, Portland’s craftsman constructions stand as distinct reminders of an exciting chapter of our history.