[Heritage] Four Portland bridges added to National Register

Heritage Info heritage.info at state.or.us
Wed Nov 21 08:48:34 PST 2012

Four historic bridges in Portland, a city often affectionately referred
to as Bridgetown because of its bridges, have been listed this week in
the National Register of Historic Places. The four represent an
impressive range of bridge technology used nationally during the 20th
“Listing four of Portland's bridges in the National Register of
Historic Places recognizes just how important these structures are for
their engineering and for their role in the city's rich history,” said
Robert Hadlow, a senior historian for the Oregon Department of
Transportation.  “Bridges have connected Portlanders on both sides of
the river since the 1880s and helped make Portland the vibrant city that
it is today.”
The bridges -- Broadway, Burnside, Hawthorne and Morrison  -- are
located on a 1.5 mile stretch of the Willamette River. All are owned and
maintained by Multnomah County. 
The Hawthorne Bridge of 1910 was strikingly large for its time and
built for horse and street-car systems. The vertical-lift truss bridge
was converted by the 1950s to serve automobile and bus traffic. The City
of Portland reported earlier this month that more than a half million
bike trips were logged on it from August-October of this year..
When the Burnside Bridge was opened in 1926, it featured four lanes for
motor vehicles and two to serve the trolley system. It is the first
drawbridge to rely upon a concrete deck, estimated to weigh 5,000 tons,
for its movable span.
The Broadway Bridge was opened in 1913. Also a drawbridge system, its
timber decking was replaced in 1948 with steel grating. Originally
painted with red lead paint, it was repainted black in 1949. Its color
changed again in 1963 under a new scheme devised to add color and
diversity to Portland’s many bridges.
The newest bridge, Morrison, opened in 1958 at the location of two
previous bridges. Its design incorporates of new technical details in
the pier design and a post-World War II aesthetic that distinguishes it
from earlier bascule designs.
The Portland bridges were nominated because of the significant
political, economic, commercial and social forces that governed their
design, location, and construction over six decades; and their national
engineering significance.
Portland stages an annual bridge festival and a bridge ride for
bicycles. Numerous retailers and other businesses use the bridges or the
Bridgetown name in their marketing.
The Portland bridges nomination was reviewed and approved by the Oregon
State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation and subsequently
forwarded by the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office to the
National Register for its approval. The National Register is maintained
by the National Park Service under the authority of the National
Historic Preservation Act of 1966.
Editor's Note:  More information about the National Register and recent
Oregon listings, including the complete nominations of the bridges. is
online at http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/HCD/NATREG/Pages/index.aspx   
Also, George Kramer, who prepared the National Register nomination for
the bridges, shares some of his favorite photos and stories about the
bridges in a blog post in the Oregon Heritage Exchange. Read them at
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