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Portland Blog: This Week in Portland March 1 - March 8 2014

Welcome to the first day of MARCH! We can hardly believe that winter is nearly over and spring is right around the corner! Hurray!

This Portland blog is all about the St Johns neighborhood and the ever famous St Johns Bridge. St. Johns has a rich and interesting history. An 1843 pioneer settler of Linnton, James John, moved across the river and started St. Johns in about 1865. St. Johns became part of Portland in1915, two years before Linnton joined the growing city. There used to be a lot of streetcars in St Johns and many interesting old houses & buildings still remain.

It’s not possible to discuss St. Johns without singing the praises of the St. Johns bridge. The bridge is stunning and the focal point of many famous photos. It is often compared to the Golden Gate Bridge and mistakenly reported as being designed by the same person. The builder of the St Johns bridge was John Steinman who was rumored to be a rival to the builder of the Golden Gate Bridge.

One virtue of the bridge that is often overlooked by much of Portland, is a 12 minute commute to downtown Portland. Highway 30, the road connecting the other side of the bridge to downtown Portland, suffers very little traffic during the 8-5 or 9-6 commute hours (although, anecdotally, it’s busier during earlier hours 5-7 am and 2:30 - 4:30). Germantown road to Skyline or Cornelius pass dissimilarly light traffic during banker's hours commute.

If you haven't been to St. Johns in awhile, take the short trip and go. This neighborhood has changed a lot in the last 5 years- new businesses galore and a ton of new residents who are busy fixing up and settling down. St. Johns is a great Portland neighborhood well worth a trip into north Portland. Make sure to stop and enjoy the Krugers Farm and the great beer and foodcarts.

captured by porches St Johns

Enjoy a great pint by the fire here





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Bridgetown Series: St. Johns Bridge

by Rachel Carlson

St Johns Portland

2013 A rare photo I captured SANS traffic...not an easy task.

The St. Johns Bridge

The second bridge in my Bridgetown Series. Alas, it is also my FAVORITE (not just me) bridge in Portland. I thought I would save it till last in the series but I just couldn't help writing about it sooner. PLEASE hang in there whilst I GUSH over this bridge with way too much information and photos to share.

I cannot say enough things about this bridge. Its location. Its grandeur. Its history. Loved and enjoyed by a lot of people in the St Johns community as well as surrounding communities, even people that no longer live here and even people in different countries.

I'll get the specs out of the way real quick:

St. Johns Bridge

It crosses the Willamette River

Its design: suspension and Gothic

The only suspension bridge (for now at least) in the Willamette Valley.

St Johns Bridge

2012 - my favorite photos of the bridge of course are in FOG.

The bridge carries the U.S. Route 30 Bypass, a very busy connector to from NW Portland/N Portland, Linnton, St. Helens, Scappoose, Sauive Island and beyond.

And did you know:

It is the tallest bridge in Portland with two 408 ft tall Gothic towers. And because it carries U.S. Route 30 Bypass it is said (in 2001) the average traffic on the bridge was 23,800 vehicles/day. GULP. So grateful this mighty bridge has stood the test of time and kept drivers, bikers, walkers on the go.

The bridge was designed by internationally renowned engineer David B. Steinman and Holton D. Robinson of New York. Before the bridge was built the area was served by a ferry that carried 1000 vehicles a day. I can't even begin to imagine this fact as the bridge is now a necessary extension to this beloved pocket of goodness in Portland. Cheers to being connected!!

St Johns Portland

Oregon Historical Society Research Library photo

The bridge's construction began one month before the Stock Market Crash of 1929 which provided many country residents with employment during the Great Depression.

And did you know:

It is said that some government officials wanted the bridge painted yellow with black stripes. What.the.heck. In 1931 on St. Patrick's Day county officials announced it would be painted green.

Some Pop Culture for you:

In the film Move it forward, Jerry (James Caviezel), a homeless man who was the first person helped by Trevor (Haley Joel Osment), talks a woman out of jumping off the St. Johns Bridge.

In the comic book Captain Marvel Adventures #29 (1943), Captain Marvel visits what was then known as the 'Sky Bridge'. (Reprinted in 'Shazam! Visits Portland, Oregon in 1943!', a promotional comic from Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI).)

The bridge has appeared in the TV series Grimm.

The St. John's bridge was also mentioned and featured in the 2012 thriller Gone, starring Amanda Seyfried.

Information compilation: Wikipedia - St Johns Bridge

So grateful that green was chosen as its color as it compliments the photos taken in many different seasons.


St Johns Portland OR

2013 - as you can see my favorite season to photograph the bridge is in autumn.

St Johns Portland

2012 - and waiting for just the right lighting is so worth took me just a little over an hour for this one.

St Johns Portland OR

2013 - looking good in LIGHTS - I'm such a lucky girl.

And because I'm very lucky AND grateful to be on an NBC TV show (based and filmed in Portland) and at times get to shoot on location I get to capture the beloved bridge in LIGHTS, camera, action!!

The bridge is especially eerie yet beautiful at night.

St Johns Bridge

The St Johns bridge on TV. That's my super cool and talented Grimm peep Angelo Adside in the center there.

As such, even a short film is being made about the St. Johns Bridge:


"BRIDGETOWN is a short film, from writer/director Bryan Tosh, about the relationship between a father struggling with addiction and his estranged daughter who just wants him to be a part of her life. The film is set in Portland, Oregon, hometown to Tosh, and is inspired by elements of real life experiences."

And BOOKS too:

St Johns bridge

You didn't think I'd leave out a 'book' share/reference did you.

Written by Colin Meloy - the lead singer/songwriter of The Decemberists

Illustrated by the brilliant Carson Ellis - I have mad love for illustrators too.

While I've only read the first two books in the Wildwood Chronicles, I was giddy excited when I started book one at my only permanent address (6 months long) 'in' St. Johns. Was excited to read the areas in/around the St Johns community were set and inspired in the writings of the books. The bridge being a character in and of itself and celebrated in words. I imagined myself crossing over the bridge into the

"Impassable Wilderness"

and at every turn of the page I looked forward to the next adventure.

PLEASE promise me you'll add these books to your reading list if you are local to Portland.

As such, even if you don't live here they will give you a dreamy, magical and adventurous outlook on our city. I'm crossing fingers to get to the book signing of the THIRD book on:

March 9th at 4pm

Reading Frenzy

3628 N Mississippi Avenue

*no pushing or shoving* - wink

And FINALLY, because I was SNOWED IN at a different location in the city, I was unable to capture the magic and beauty of the St. Johns bridge in its SNOWY goodness...hanging head in shame. Instead I reached out to the St. Johns community, why YES, St. Johns does have a social media page dedicated to all things St. Johns. The community does a great job in keeping their neighbors safe, informed, encouraged AND entertained.

St Johns bridge

Photo by: John David Van Beek

St Johns bridge

Photo by: Andrea Jarzombek-Holt - I know HUH.

St Johns Portland OR

Photo by: Kat Reese

Her website: Kathryn Reese

HUGE thanks for your contributions John, Andrea and Kat.

Best wishes for a great weekend ahead.

Cheers, Rachel

....notes from a nomad.



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