02 May 2010

[Out 122nd Way] Parkrose In The Golden Age of Motoring

At one time, back when there were no "freeways", the US Highway System was the "Interstate".

The neighborhood of Parkrose, the name itself one might imagine being a rearrangement of Rose and Park (though exactly why the community got called that is not something I can readily determine), was once the eastern gateway to Portland along the Columbia River Highway, old US 30. The main drag stretches from about 122nd and Sandy, thence along Sandy Boulevard westbound to approximately 99th and Sandy – an intersection that is today aligned to fire traffic down outer Killingsworth Street and Lombard Street/Columbia Boulevard.

What downtown Parkrose may have been at one time has become charmingly shabby now. The buildings are well- and neatly-kept, but one can tell they belong to the US-Highway era; the motels with names like Courtesy Inn where they might or might not be courteous depending on who just blew through to the Prestige Inn of which whatever prestige may have been has long since gone down the road.

Nowhere, to me, is the echo of the past more clearly heard than the corner of NE 115th and Sandy. On the south side is one of those Pacific Pride cardlock gas stations, but it's on the north side of Sandy Blvd – not far away from my iconic 122nd Way, and frequently on the way there from whereever I'm coming from – where the echo sounds most strongly.

The first building's address is 11349, and this is what it looks like:

It seems to form a set, with the green building just beyond it (of which more presently), if only because of the impression the set-back second story gives me. But the real giveaway to me is the glass brick about the entry.

Those glass bricks and the curve that funnels you into the entry seem sort of Art-Deco-ish (and yes, I realize I may well be using that reference incorrectly). There's something about this entry that says this was once elegant, this was once stylish. It's a faded old glamour queen.

Naturally, I'm not trying to cast aspersions with words like faded and old. The building is in very good repair, if a little shabby on the outside. But that entry makes me think of what was. Old construction is kind of wan that way. It's hard to tell what this building is being used as now.

It's next door neighbor is 11401 NE Sandy Blvd, and it's looking quite spiffy and cared-for. It seems to be a small apartment building now.

The 1930s-40s-ish styling of this building is very clear indeed; I imagine it as being built sometimes after the Depression but before WW2. It's well-cared for and beautifully-maintained.

The paint is fresh and neat, the windows all new, the front door there at the corner on the porch very inviting and clean.

If I were single and renting, I'd want that second floor apartment, no question. And, in front, there's a pay phone, an actual telephone booth, Superman-style, and a sign tacked to the telephone-pole next to it that you don't see so much anymore, in the age of the Dick Tracy Wrist Radio:

Even it is in spiffy repair and trim. It wasn't all that long ago that you saw these all over the place (was it?).

Parking for the two buildings is down a small sloping driveway that is well indicated as to where to park:

… and where not to park …

One bit of advice: if you park there, don't tell the building owner you didn't see the signs, yes?

One other echo of the past is a small Mexican restaurant, just east and on the SE corner of NE 115th and Sandy. It looks like this:

El Tacoriendo restaurant, which was closed this hour, is tidily maintained, but the siding does nothing to conceal the delightful rounded corners on the building which marks it as of a piece with the two buildings on the north side and just west. Even the entry, with its double-curved entry, evokes the glass-bricked entry of 11345:

The lamps make for a classy touch, do they not?

The sign promises enthusiastic service … just please eat your dish, I believe the server isn't actually a meal, although he might make one:

There are a few other corners of the old Parkrose strip that I'll include soon. Not a glamourous place, but not a bad place; we all have to make our way, and sometimes, that way stops in at a shabby-but-neatly kept motel along NE Sandy Boulevard, on the way to 122nd Way.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Powered by ScribeFire.


stan said...

Great stuff, Sam.

Sandy Blvd. is one of nostalgia for me, because it was the main route my family took to get to my grandmother's house (we near 162nd between Glisan and Halsey, she near 33rd & Alberta, long before it was trendy). Also, a cousin on my dad's side and my uncle on my mom's side lived in near-twin adjacent houses very close to where these pics were snapped.

What I remember most was the cluster of motels along Sandy and—gosh, it's harder to picture in my mind now—maybe the 110th-120th range? They all seemed to have some kind of gaudy, oversized, Arabian Nights-esque themed exteriors, much like the Alibi on N. Interstate still does (or did, in case it's closed its doors, too).

Keep these up! And thanks for stirring up the nostalgia kettle a little bit.

stan said...

A follow-up note-

I just checked Google Maps street view, and the cousin & uncle's former side-by-side houses are actually on the properties directly adjacent to that cardlock gas station.

Also, if you look at Bob Brown Tire Center on satellite view, you can see where they once painted their roof with their logo, apparently to catch the eyes of air travelers coming and going from nearby PDX!