St. John’s Bridge, Icon of the Northwest

(Click on each photograph to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

St. John’s Bridge in Portland is one of the most recognized icons in the region. It was built using local dollars at the height of the Depression, taking two years to build. The steel suspension bridge connects the Northwest and Northeast quadrants of the city. Its towering Gothic inspired towers create a feeling of awe. When it opened, apparently elephants walked across it (if one is to believe the information posted in the park below).

It is showing real signs of decay too, with its concrete foundations crumbling in plain view. Cathedral Park at its base on the northeast side of the Willamette River is an ever popular destination for residents. Everyone always seems to marvel at the design.

The base of the bridge was once home to the region’s Native Americans, who lived on the river banks, harvesting the river’s bounty. Most of the region’s Native residents perished during the 1800s due to the apocalyptic impact of communicable disease and malaria introduced with the arrival of European and American travellers and settlers.


A day at the bridges, Portland style

Portland, Ore., has been dubbed many things, including bridge town. Here are two of the most distinct ones: St John’s Bridge (1931) and the Fremont Bridge (1973). The former dates from the Depression, when public works projects had a sense of artistry. The latter was built to serve one purpose–carry cars over Willamette River on Interstate 405 as efficiently as possible. More bridges are to come. (Click on each photograph to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)