Thursday, September 05, 2013

Seen in the neighborhood, rotating sign #3

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Since I moved to Northeast Portland after Mama died in January, 2011, every work day I've gone by this sign twice a day, going to work and coming home from work. Most of the time I've been on a bus, but now and then, I walked along the sidewalk. I often looked up at the sign on top of what was the Portland Bottling Company building and wished that I could have seen it in its heyday, when it said a bubbly 7Up on all three sides and had a bottle of that drink on its top, back when it rotated. Imagine how excited I was one night when I had a Zipcar and stopped at the traffic signal, looked up and ealized that a recent strong wind had blown loose some of the material covering the sides of the sign. I could see enough to realize that if the wind blew just a little bit more, at least one side of the sign would once again say 7Up.


I parked and took a few photos, grinning the whole time. Later at home I looked up the 7UP sign on Google and learned this about the sign and the building, in a 2010 story in The Oregonian: Workers make changes to the sign atop the old Portland Bottling Co. building near the intersection of Northeast 12th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard. They were converting what for years was a sign advertising 7UP to one publicizing a Guayakí yerba mate drink. Only time will tell if that's going to happen, but one local sign buff is sorry to see Portland lose a piece of its past.

The sign dates back several decades, said Jeff Kunkle, who co-owns Vintage Roadside with his wife, Kelly Burg. The two research and document mom-and-pop roadside places from the 1930s to 1960s and sell T-shirts with vintage graphic designs.

The bottling factory was built in 1941, and the sign was likely built at the same time, he said. It originally could rotate, but the owners at the time decided to weld it in place following the big Columbus Day Storm of 1962.

Kunkle is sorry to see it change, saying it's a sign that "makes Portland, Portland."


On another walk on the way to work, I had the chance to take photos with our fabulous summertime blue sky. The architectural style of the building is what's known as streamline moderne.


Here's a photo much like the top one, taken in the daytime so that you can see the motel across the street--remember seeing the neon vacancy sign in the top photo?

And here's a wide shot. Enjoy!

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