Broadway Street then and now: A brief look at Beaverton in the 1920s

Broadway Street then and now: A brief look at Beaverton in the 1920s



The 1920s witnessed a sea change throughout the United States. The Great War, later known as World War I, had ended, Prohibition was enacted, and women achieved suffrage nationally. (They had gained the right to vote in Oregon in 1912.) Small rural communities began to shed their pastoral beginnings and acquire the trappings of commuter suburbs. Beaverton was no exception.

The 580 residents at the decade’s start were well-served by rapid and safe rail transportation, municipal water, fire department, library, sidewalks, telephone exchange, and professional services. The economy was expanding, diverse, and centered around Broadway Street that was lined with shops, auto garages, restaurants, and grocery stores. Brisk building activity, both houses and commercial structures, spurred further economic development.

The advent of consumerism in the Roaring Twenties led to new marketing and advertising techniques, particularly in newspapers. Beaverton’s shopkeepers responded. When the Beaver Theater, “Go Where the Crowds Go”, in July 1927 featured “The General”, Buster Keaton’s classic silent filmed in and near Cottage Grove, management offered a coupon for 10 cents off the price of an adult admission–$1.75 today, but almost 50% of the normal cost then. Beaverton Market and Grocery delivered daily, accepted phone-in orders, and purchased local produce and eggs. Hartshorn Window Shades advertised Special Saturday Sales.

Movies were big business when Hollywood came to Beaverton. Premium Picture Productions released 15 silent movies from their vast studios on Erickson Avenue near Sixth Street from 1922-1925. After the company went bankrupt in 1925, Dr. George Watts and associates established his airport on the site, one that foretold the inception of what would soon be noted as “the busiest non-commercial airport in the country”, Charles Bernard’s airfield.

By 1930, the population increased to 900. “The City of Homes” had come of age and developed into a Portland bedroom community.


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