Once the main highway between Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington, Interstate Avenue was lined with mom and pop motels, restaurants, and gas stations - many lit with neon.
Interstate Avenue would never be the same after the opening of I-5 on December 2, 1964. Located just west of Interstate, I-5 became the corridor of choice for travelers who had patronized Interstate's businesses, leaving many of the mom and pops without the customers they relied on.
With such a drastic change in traffic flow and loss of business, you might think that all of the neon along Interstate would have been lost to time and decay. Although many vintage signs have been demolished, replaced, or taken down over the past five decades (including one ongoing preservation project, the Crown Motel sign), we're happy to say a nice cluster can still be found along the old highway.
Working our way south to north, here's a fun look at some of the neon sights we're fortunate to still enjoy along Interstate Avenue.
3801 N Interstate Ave
4024 N Interstate Ave
4333 N Interstate Ave
6701 N Interstate Ave
Additional good news: In 2008, the North Interstate Corridor Plan, was adopted by Portland's city council. The Plan included a provision which "establishes the city's first neighborhood-based neon district that encourages the preservation of existing 1950s era neon signs while providing flexibility for new signage." We don't know yet what this means for the future of neon along Interstate, but we're hoping for the best - preservation of existing signage.
If you'd like to learn more about the history of North Interstate Avenue or you enjoy vintage photos, we highly recommend this excellent and well-researched blog by Dan Haneckow at Cafe Unknown. "Illuminating Interstate."
Jeff & Kelly