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Alex Stange

Well said. In the last few years I've started to take pictures of places from my childhood that I expect not to survive much longer. Corno's Food Market and the King Market on MLK & Fremont were a couple of them. They may not have meant anything to others, but they did to me. RIP

I hope somewhere Google is archiving all of its street view pictures, so 30 years from now I can take a virtual tour around town.

Don from Salem

The King Market on MLK & Fremont was built as a McDonald's in the 1960s, if I remember right


Does anyone know what the longest continuous retail/building street in Portland is that has no surface parking lot gaps? It's interesting that in Downtown you can count on a degraded treeless parking lot to break up most streets right when there seems to be the beginnings of a critical mass. It's stunning that one family can do so much damage to the public realm without any pressure to improve their properties. It would be interesting to see the inventory of buildings that have been torn down for this parking empire. We really can put the lack of a PDX central retail street on one property owner. I guess one positive is that the lack of DT property inventory allowed the development of the Pearl.


I love these old buildings, but I have to take exception to the St. Francis hotel, which I saw firsthand was infested with cockroaches, and today under a similar name serves as a model for mixed and low-income housing in Portland's West end. I think that the lesson here is to not take down history for the sake of development, and to always look for opportunities to salvage or repurpose. Unfortunately for the St. Francis Hotel, it had expired. The Housing Authority of Portland dismantled it and salvaged what was there. The structure of the old building was failing, and not far from the imagery of the Drugstore Cowboy it was soiled from years of abuse, neglect, and people living there lived in substandard conditions. Today the new building is active and rehabilitating to those that live in under the Housing Authority of Portland control..

Josh Ashcroft

In the New York Times a couple of days ago there was an article referencing Kurt Anderson who called the "Baby Boomers" "The Grasshopper Generation" referencing the enormous sacrifice their parents "The Greatest Generation" made to build a tremendous world of abundance for their children ... and then their children proceeded to eat through that abundance like hungry locust.

Not only is Ladd tower largely unoccupied but the Rosefriend Apartments they replaced were some of the most affordable and spacious apartments in downtown. I know they weren't in great condition so it's possible it was time.

M Nye

Watching the Rosefriend demolition it seems like such a waste not only in cultural terms but materials as well(think carbon footprint). If a building is in decent shape (but in need of an upgrade) why not use the constraint of the old building to inform the new? When there is a dialogue between old and new and the integrity of both is maintained something specific and wonderful can be built. The Portland Art Museum is a great example of how the resulting tension from integration makes for compelling architecture.

Too bad about the parking lots, one other positive (depending on your taste)is that without them we would not have our rich food cart culture; as featured on The Amazing Race. ;)


I feel your pain. It still kills me to go by the George Morlan Plumbing on SE Foster, where there used to sit the grocery store run by my great-grandparents and the upstairs apartment where my grandmother grew up.


Some of this needs to be put into perspective.

First of all, I agree that buildings downtown should not be taken down for a surface lot. That's just stupid.

However, downtown isn't a museum. It's a center of commerce. Modern tall building are needed to drive our economic engine. Yes, we should preserve buildings of historic value but that doesn't mean every building should be saved. Looking at some of the buildings above, I question whether they should have been saved or not. Most of them look like they would not have been able to house a major corporation.

I think the real issue that should be debated (and this blog does a good job of it) is whether the replacement building is worthy of its location and prominence downtown. Many of the buildings built since World War II are crap. The Bank of American example is a good one. The moat around the Wells Fargo tower, the shorter building next to it, the Hilton Hotel...the list could go on and on.

Brian Libby


Well of course.

Certainly I never meant to argue against modern tall buildings. And if I may (with all due respect) remind you, the original post included this passage at the end:

"Not every building deserves to be saved, of course. Cities can't be mausoleums of only old architecture. But clearly this city, like all American cities of the mid-20th century, was catastrophically hasty and short-sighted about its historic buildings."

You are at least partially correct that there were many bad buildings built after World War II. It was a time when the building industry was experimenting with new lighter, cheaper materials and designing them in an unadorned modern style that, when executed poorly, had no detail to hide behind like buildings of the past. At the same time, when modern, post-World War II buildings are done well, such as Pietro Belluschi's Equitable Building (now called the Commonwealth) downtown from 1946 or even recent examples like Holst's 937 or BOORA's Metropolitan Condos in the Pearl, they can be absolutely gorgeous.


When I asked the manager of a Swiss bank in Bern why the bank did not have air conditioning he said that to maintain the character of the neighborhood the city’s architectural review board would not let them add the air conditioning to their historic building.

While typical European cities have more historic architecture than Portland, I am in favor of Portland having more stringent city requirements on the development and maintenance of historic buildings and neighborhoods. Not only to maintain the character of certain neighborhoods, but to also consider the impact changes would have to the sustainability and efficiency of an area. Unfortunately, Portland seems to be heading in the direction of less oversight of development.

Bern is very much a lively working city. A city doesn’t become a museum or a mausoleum simply by maintaining and appreciating its historic character.


Holst's, clever 937 is going back to the bank
it's about 50% sold out. It's been on the market for 3 years now.


It's true that we can't stagnate, we must build newer, taller, larger buildings to grow as a city. But when you look at the oldest part of town, you see that we didn't, for the most part, demolish our older buildings to construct new ones. We demolished for surface parking lots that are there more than a half-century later.

Consider 1st Avenue. From NW Couch to SW Taylor contains just a couple of new high-rise buildings. The rest is mostly surface parking lots amongst what is left of our original cast-iron architecture inventory. Imagine if our mid-century city fathers had preserved just that 11-block stretch as a historic district and saved all those old cast-iron buildings. Imagine how interesting it would be and how much tourism we could have generated. Imagine if we had preserved all the buildings on the west side of Front/Naito Parkway as well, another stretch of mostly parking lots. A half-mile of classic cast-iron architecture facing Tom McCall Waterfront park? Priceless.

ps. Thanks for the mention!


Three fabulous old apartment building are soon to join the list of lost structures in the University District. PSU will be demoing them to built the Oregon new student housing on 6th, the Sustainability Center, and the new business school on the Park Blocks. While none of them have any noteworthy features, and PSU has need for more space, they are all beautiful buildings the likes of which will never be constructed again. It always seems like such a shame to tear down great historic buildings when right up the street is endless amounts of surface parking and suburban style development.


Re; The Rosefriend Apt building: The church now has it's own underground parking area, and hopefully...guaranteed operating funds (from the deal allowing developers to build the Ladd Tower)...despite its being mostly unoccupied, so the church building itself won't have to be torn down.

Meanwhile, with all those unoccupied units in the Ladd Tower, the building must be losing money at an extraordinary rate. Or maybe it's a great tax write-off for someone. PSU needs housing for students? Put those students up in the Ladd until the market for luxury condominiums improves. Wouldn't be a lot of money for the building's investors, but perhaps better than none at all.

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