Then and Now | Criticize this house

A brief pause from the Beaumont photos here on AH to make a deep dive into back copies of The Oregonian and other research into several stories we’re working on, and to learn more about the early Beaumont business district. Interesting stuff, so stay tuned.

It’s always easy for us to lose ourselves in the serendipity of research, especially during the quiet days at the end of the year.

While looking for other things, we’ve come across some small gems. Here’s one from September 2, 1928: It’s either an interesting approach to real estate advertising, or a clever form of early market research, or both. It also makes for a good Then and Now. Check it out:

9-2-1928 House criticism ad (1)


4404 NE Cesar Chavez Blvd

926 East 39th Street North is today’s 4404 NE Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard, in northeast Portland’s Wilshire neighborhood.

Margaret Gray Montgomery took out several other classified advertisements during this period, including one that advertised her office being located at 910 East 40th Street North (4324 NE 40th). A site office in addition to the Porter Building address? Curiously, Margaret Gray Montgomery didn’t appear in city directories as a builder or otherwise connected to the real estate business, wasn’t listed as owner of this or the 40th Street property in construction or city records, and was invisible to the federal census of 1930 and 1940. For what it’s worth, the 11th floor of the Porter building (see bottom of ad) was a hot spot for real estate and mortgage companies in the late 1920s.

As a postscript with a story to tell: a three-line classified ad in the March 30, 1931 The Oregonian, sandwiched between other ads about house foreclosures and repossessed furniture, reports:

Crawford Range for sale, also dining room rug and Hoover; will sacrifice, leaving city tomorrow evening. Also equity in beautiful home, 926 E. 39th N.


“It lies on a slight eminence…”

It was 100 years ago this week that the first newspaper advertisements began to run extolling the virtues of the newly platted Alameda Park district. The text is pretty flowery and the ad is jammed with words. Here, take a look:
From The Oregonian, March 16, 1909

From The Oregonian, March 16, 1909

This ad tells us much more about the men behind the Alameda Land Company than it does about the development itself. You get a very clear idea of who they were pitching to, and their intent to offer a “first in” deal to the early wave of investors and potential homeowners. It’s important to point out that in March 1909, there wasn’t much up here on the ridge but mud, Douglas-fir trees, brush, some small orchards and a rutted dirt road running up the hill (today’s 33rd Avenue). Panoramic views of lakes? Hmm. Not sure where they got that one. There was a small pond in the area near today’s NE 28th and Siskiyou. Maybe you could see that from the ridge…

Just one month previous to this advertisement, the Alameda Land Company filed its first plat. Even though there were no streets or curbs or water or any service in place, this March push of advertising was aimed at creating a personality for the new district and to put it on buyers’ radar screens. Different (but similar) ads ran each day this week.

Interesting to note that the March 1909 ads, which seemed to claim well-paved streets, were roundly criticized by the developers of neighboring plats, particularly Irvington, which by 1909 actually had well-paved streets, homes, water, gas and curbs. In their own advertisements taken out the following weeks, the Irvington crew called the Alameda Land Company a pack of liars, literally, for their exaggerated claims. The ad sales guys at The Oregonian must have loved it!

The Tuxedo of Portland | Looking Back 99 Years

As the Alameda Neighborhood approaches its 100th anniversary, I thought it might be of interest to turn the clock back for a sense of what people were thinking about this part of the city in those days. I’ve done a comprehensive review of The Oregonian from 1909 to 1929 and have hundreds of articles and advertisements that shed light on the life of Alameda, Beaumont, Rose City Park and other Northeast Portland neighborhoods. Here’s one, an advertisement from 99 years ago: Sunday, October 24, 1909:


10-24-09 Advertisement for Alameda Park Neighborhood, from The Oregonian

10-24-09 Advertisement for Alameda Park Neighborhood, from The Oregonian


Plenty of food for thought here. The cartoon-like drawing showing a few houses (note the front porches) scattered on open blocks; the serpentine Alameda leading off toward Mt. Hood; street trees planted in orderly fashion. And the car. The text extols the affordable nature of the lots here in Alameda Park, the amenities, including flowering shade trees, telephone, electricity and sewer. The “Tuxedo” of Portland. Hmm.

Ninety-nine years ago this month, the streets were in, but not yet hard-surfaced (that was still almost three years off, completed in the spring of 1912). Curbs and sidewalks had not yet been framed and poured, nor was there any gas or electric installed. The only sounds of home construction were coming from Concordia and Vernon–neighborhoods to the north–where building was fast and furious. But here in Alameda, despite what the ad might have you think, it was a quiet place at the far northeast edge of the city limits. The first boom of Alameda construction was still a year or more away.

As we enter the 100th anniversary phase, in 2009-2011, I’ll be sharing clippings on a “real-time” basis. You can read all the Alameda news that was fit to print on the day it ran, exactly 100 years ago. What better way to learn about our history…no such thing as old news.

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