Superior Street Before The I-35 Tunnels, 1983

Here’s a photo of East Superior Street from Oct. 10, 1983, right before construction of the Interstate 35 tunnels in the vicinity of the Fitger’s Brewery complex and Leif Erikson Park:

Scattered among the many buildings that were demolished for the extension of I-35 eastward from downtown to 26th Avenue East, you can see the buildings that survived – Fitger’s just visible at lower right, the Portland Malt Shoppe, Sir Benedict’s, the Kitchi Gammi Club and more. Click on the photo for a larger view.

Also visible is an odd diagonal street cutting across the lower half of the image. That was one-block-long Washington Avenue, which was mostly swallowed up by the freeway construction:

What perhaps could be called a small nub of Washington Avenue still exists today, angling off First Street at Seventh Avenue East next to Expert Tire, leading to the back alley.

The Expert Tire building, visible at left center above, has an angled edge along Washington Avenue – it retains that shape to this day, though the street that caused it to be built that way has been gone now for more than 25 years.

Here are a couple more views of that area from October 1983. This first shot was taken the same day as the photo above, Oct. 10 (click on the photo for a larger view); all photos with this post were taken by the News Tribune’s Charles Curtis:

And this photo was taken later in the month, on Oct. 25, 1983, looking southwest along Superior Street from in front of Sir Benedict’s as buildings were razed for the pending freeway construction:

Here’s a related past Attic post, on efforts to preserve the Fitger’s Brewery complex as the freeway plans were created: Saving Fitger’s from the wrecking ball

Share your memories by posting a comment.

10 Responses

  1. John

    At one time the Liqour Store across the ave. from Arrow Chev was East End Liquor operated by Jerome Taran. Across from the Pickwick was Seaway Chrysler operated by Munroe Braden and next door was Murphy’s Lounge. To the west of the Kitchi Gammi Club was the Pure service station operated by Jake Hemmerling. Gas there was 29 cents per gallon.

  2. Keith

    Can anyone confirm that Washington Ave was diagonal because it was platted as part of the original Portland townsite in the 1850s?

      1. Adam

        This plat from 1868 shows all the streets in Portland as running north-south, including Washington Avenue:

        I am not sure why that one section of the road stayed that way.
        Here is another plat map of both the current and previous street arrangements superimposed on one another:

  3. Tom

    The pointed building at the corner of Superior and Washington was Last Chance Liquors. I remember as a child driving down Superior Street and was fascinated by the shape of the building. They also had a long, narrow vertical sign that hung on the pointed side of the building. As I recall, it was called Last Chance because the city once had an ordinance that no package liquor could be sold east of that location.

    1. Kenny K

      It was called Last Stop/East End Liquor as Last Chance is still on East 4th St. I turned 18 on 7/10/75 and bought my first six-pack of beer there, Olympia. Mr Taran asked to see my drivers license and greeted me with a happy birthday.

  4. Whoa! I worked at the ‘Gitch for a few months back in 2002, and I know from experience that, that is not a very wide alley. Must have been a fustercluck.

  5. mark

    The Chevrolet Dealer in the bottom of the picture was Arrow Chevrolet, I worked there before moving to minneapolis in 1979. It was a old building and no repairs were being done beacuse they knew it would be demolished. It was really nice working directly across the street from the Fitgers Brewery….. but thats another story !

  6. Wow! That’s fascinating to me.

    My family moved to Duluth in 1986, so this is JUST “before my time.’ A quick look at Google Maps also shows that the “sidewalk” across Washington Avenue from Expert Tire also survived, and is still there!!

    Interesting to note, however, that the “alley’ between Superior Street and First Street has been moved significantly North to make room for the freeway.

    Looks like there used to be a Chevy dealership across Superior from Fitgers. Does anyone recall what other businesses used to be in that “freeway gap” area?

  7. BlueNorth

    I can remember that for a while, after these pictures were taken, the construction detour for Highway 61 ran in the alley behind the Kitchigami Club. It was to be 9 more years before the 35 tunnels opened. What a mess.

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