Portland, to state the obvious, is a city of bridges: 17, to be precise, including the worlds only telescoping double-deck vertical-lift bridge (Steel Bridge), the worlds oldest vertical-lift bridge (Hawthorne Bridge), and America's longest tied-arch bridge (Fremont Bridge). Goodness, who knew there were so many kinds! If you were to arrive in the city by boat, heading inland along the Willamette, you would encounter some of the city's most famous spans in the following order.
The St. Johns Bridge is named for the community at it's east end, which was originally named in honor of settler James John. John started a local ferry system near this spot with just one rowboat in 1852. Portland's only suspension bridge was designed by David B. Steinman, and the architect considered this Gothic-towered creation to be his masterpiece.
The Fremont Bridge, the newest to span the Willamette River, has the longest main span of any bridge in Oregon. The bridge was named in honor of John Charles Fremont, explorer and army officer. In 1842, Fremont was given federal funds to survey the Oregon Trail.
The Broadway Bridge, when it opened, was the largest double leaf drawbridge in the world. It's appellation reflects the street is carries. The city fathers spared no imagination in the naming of this viaduct.
The unique design of the Steel Bridge has never been duplicated. It features two decks, one for trains and one for automobiles, the lower of which can move independently of the other. Not only does this bridge accommodate wheeled vehicles it also obliges river traffic. The lower deck can raise 45 feet in just 10 seconds; the upper deck, 90 feet in 90 seconds. Talk about zero to 60! Before the mid-centurey decline in streetcar use, the upperdeck was for Portland's streetcars. In 1986, following an upgrade, the Steel Bridge became the cross-river link for Portland's MAX light-rail system.
The Burnside Bridge closes for a few hours each June to allow the Grand Floral Parade of the Portland Rose Festival to come across the river en route to downtown. The Morrison Bridge, part of the Willamette Light Brigade's project to light all of thedowntown bridges, was the first to be illuminated in 1987.
The Marquam Bridge holds the honor of being Portland's busiest span. It was the first double-deck automobile bridge to be built in the state. Built for utility rather than beauty, this connection closed the final gap in the California-Washington interstate highway system.
Only the interstate bridges cross the Columbia River.
So, I think I've now bored everyone to tears. I don't care though, I love little factoids. :-)