Motels 97201

There are places I pass by every day on my way to somewhere else. They are part of the landscape that I see on such a routine basis that I hardly notice them. A good example of this is where I-405 barrels through Southwest Portland, near where Barbur Boulevard ends and the Portland State University campus begins.

There are a couple of hotels in this area that seem suitably placed in their urban surroundings. But at the moment I am more curious about the four motels (hotel + motorist = motel) here, because they seem less suited to the setting, and because some of them have been part of the landscape as long as I can remember. (Here is a map.)

Of the four, the Downtown Value Inn located between SW 4th and 5th on Montgomery Street, is the closest to the PSU campus.

Convenient to the streetcar:

There is a pizza shop on the corner:

I always wonder about the Sahara (?) font on one side of the building.

The other motel East of I-405 is the City Center EconoLodge. It is nondescript, but I see it out my bus window nearly every day.

It has a tidy office lobby.

It won a prize:

The two motels just West of I-405 are visually more interesting, but in a pedestrian no-man’s-land. One is the City Center Travelodge on SW 4th Avenue between Caruthers and Sheridan.

I noticed the wood carving on the sign pole. Maybe it used to be a tiki bar?

Suki’s, for karaoke and 49ers fans.

I didn’t get a picture of the restaurant side, which was fairly busy for the weekday lunch hour. This is the game area:

The person behind the desk here was very friendly. I inquired about the fish in the tank because I had never seen any like them before. He said they are not real. But they swam around like they were real – I’m not sure how that works.

The fourth and final is the 6th Avenue Motel located at SW 6th Avenue and Sherman. The sign is stunning, and even more so at night. The manager of the European Auto Centre next door said that a lot of veterans stay here when they are being treated at the VA just up the hill.

The brick walls are dotted with pastel-colored shiny enamel pieces.

The office:

They use a color scheme that wouldn’t have occurred to me:

The newer red letters saying “Wi-Fi” used to advertise something else:

Kitchen? Pool? View? I wonder.

Location and price clearly are the main appeal of these motels. I have not had the opportunity to stay in one. If you have, I would enjoy hearing about your experience.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit.


8 responses to “Motels 97201

  1. great topic! I’ve also been curious about these places for years. isn’t there a lurid story about someone getting strangled by a pay phone cord in suki’s?

  2. My google search didn’t find that, but I’m sure that with your amazing search powers you can find me the link. I will post it here. Thanks, Kate.

  3. I enjoyed reading about these motels… Portland has such tidy districts! A professor that I worked with at UC Berkeley was fascinated with single-occupancy hotels (the kind that the near-homeless live in) in San Francisco. While these places are drying up fast due to pressure from politicians and developers- Portland seems to have found a way to maintain something of the sort. Nice investigative work!

  4. another good link on these kind of motels, including the significance of thier history in portland, from carl abbott’s blog:

  5. Interesting post! I go by all these places regularly and have wondered if people do stay here…thanks for pointing them out!

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