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Portland Then/Now: Northwest Couch Street and Third Avenue

Thursday, November 20, 2014

 

Northwest Couch Street and Third Avenue

Northwest Couch Street and Third Avenue, 1976 City of Portland Archives, A2011-018.276

Northwest Couch Street and Third Avenue

Northwest Couch Street and Third Avenue, 2014. Photo by Byron Beck.

Portland Then/Now: As much as some street corners change, some don't seem to change at all. The following photos from the corner of Northwest Couch Street and Third Avenue were taken 38 years apart. And except for the GIANT U.S. Bancorp Building in the background (the big tower was constructed in 1983) not that much has changed.

THEN: In 1976, Just across the street was the Baker Drug Co., this corner was the home of the Old Town Cafe. It served breakfast, lunch and dinner and Olympia beer on tap.

On Vintage Portland, "PortlandHistoryGeek: has to say this about the cafe: "My mother and grandmother were waitresses there. Gus and Helen owned the place...(the area) wasn’t “so” bad during this time. Many of the customers were living in Single Room Occupancy (SROs) and ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at Old Town...Darcelle and the girls would come through for a bite (before, and sometimes after, they “transformed”)...Author Walt Curtis (“Mala Noche”) would eat and on occasion leave drawings on napkins that my mother considered “tips." Mostly, before de-institutionalization it was a real neighborhood full of older gents who had worked hard and earned tiny pensions. Afterward, it got rougher…more drugs, more trouble."

NOW: The Old Town Cafe is now home to the country music-friendly Dixie Tavern. The bar where they once served breakfast is the same bar where you're likely to see a young woman dancing  Coyote Ugly-style, under a sea of empty bras on any given weekend night.

Across the street, the old Baker Drug Co. is now where you can find Dirty, another wild, weekend-ish boite spot. The neighborhood still has a few old-time businesses from the 1970's including Darcelle's.

And the neighorhood still has its rough moments. In an effort to control the flow of party-hardy, trouble-makers down here, Northwest Third Avenue is closed to vehicular traffic on weekend nights. 

 

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