In my first post on Portland geography I discussed the city’s layout and how to navigate around town. In this post I am going to discuss Portland’s bridges. Portland is sometimes referred to as Bridgetown due to the multiple bridges spaning the Willamette River. Visually speaking, the bridges are one of the defining characteristics of Portland.
Portland has 7 main bridges that cross the river in the immediate downtown area. In order from South to North they are:
The Marquam (Mark-Um) Bridge. This is where I-5 crosses from the west side of the river to the east side.
The next bridge is the Hawthorne Bridge. From downton, driving east on SW Madison will put you on the Hawthorne Bridge. If you want to explore the Hawthorne and Belmont neighborhoods this is the bridge you take.
The next bridge is the Morrison St. bridge. From downtown, drive east on SW Alder to get to this bridge. If you are wanting to access I-5 north or I-84 east this is the bridge you will want to take to reach both freeway on-ramps.
The Burnside Bridge is next. Burnside divides the city north and south. It is very similar in style to the Morrison Bridge, except the Burnside bridge was built in 1926 which replaced the original bridge built in 1890.
The next bridge is the Steel Bridge. This is the bridge that all the MAX lines use to cross the river. It is also open to regular vehicle traffic. Drive east on NW Everett to reach the Steel Bridge. This will take you into the Rose Quarter area.
After the Steel Bridge is the Broadway Bridge. Both the Steel Bridge and the Broadway Bridge will get you into the Rose Quarter area if you are trying to cross the river to get to a Blazer game. The bridge also marks the northern end of the Pearl District.
Last but not least is the Freemont Bridge. When I-5 crosses the river at the Marquam Bridge, if you continue north the freeway will turn into I-405. I-405 is a north/south freeway on the western side of downtown Portland. If you head north on this freeway eventually you will reach the Freemont bridge, cross the river, and meet back up with I-5.
These are the 7 main bridges of Portland. There are, however, three more that I want to mention. The Sellwood Bridge (which is currently being replaced), the Ross Island Bridge, and perhaps my favorite the St. Johns Bridge. The Sellwood and Ross Island Bridges are on the southern end of the river. Most of you will probably not have much of a need to use those bridges, but here are pictures:
Sellwood Bridge is currently being replaced. Here is a picture of the construction.
Ross Island Bridge:
Finally, here is a picture of the St. Johns Bridge. This bridge is notable because it was the longest suspension bridge west of the Mississippi until the Golden Gate Bridge was completed in 1937.
Update: There is a new bridge crossing the Willamette River. The bridge is between the Marquam Bridge and the Ross Island Bridge. This bridge was built by trimet and is dedicated to mass transit and pedestrians. No cars allowed. The name of the bridge is Tilikum Crossing.