Portland Traction Co streetcar system map, 1943
World War II-era Portland was a hive of scum and villainy. The population had gone up by thirty percent, as workers from all over the country came to build merchant vessels in the great Kaiser Shipyards. The civil authorities had been stretched to their limits. Housing was scarce, brothels and gambling dens flourished, and sexually transmitted diseases were so rampant that the military nearly banned servicemen from the city.
Mass transit ridership doubled, due to wartime rationing of gasoline and rubber, but this was only a temporary reprieve for Portland’s streetcar system. The Portland Electric Power Company (now Portland General Electric) was in bankruptcy and had already begun the process of replacing its streetcars with trolleybuses and motor buses. The local streetcar system would close in 1950, and its regional interurban lines would close in 1958.
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