Portland Then/Now: Hawthorne Bridge
Thursday, February 19, 2015
THEN: The 105-year-old Hawthorne Bridge is a truss bridge with a vertical lift that spans the Willamette River joining Hawthorne Boulevard and Madison Street.
Interesting to note is that the Hawthorne Bridge is the oldest vertical-lift bridge in operation in the United States and the oldest highway bridge in Portland.
The current bridge (pictured here in 1914) was built to replace Madison Bridge No. 1 (1891) and Madison Bridge No. 2 (1900), which was destroyed by a fire in 1902. It cost $511,000 to build and was opened on December 19, 1910.
The original color of the bridge was black, lasting until 1964, when it was repainted yellow ochre. During the 1998-99 renovation, the color was changed to green with red trim.
The bridge has been seen in various films (Tommy Lee Jones “The Hunted”) and television shows (it is featured in the Portlandia episode that featured the song “The Dream of the 90s is Alive in Portland.”
NOW: The nation’s oldest vertical-lift bridge is also one of Portland’s most travelled. The Hawthorne Bridge its busiest bicycle and transit bridge in Oregon, with over 8,000 cyclists and 800 TriMet buses (carrying about 17,400 riders) daily.
Both ends of the bridge has seen major transformation over the years.
The north end is home to the 22-city-block-long Tom McCall Waterfront Park—which hosts thousands of visitors daily as well as at major events and concerts including several music, beer and food festivals—and the RiverPlace/South Waterfront area that is packed with shops, restaurants, the RiverPlace Hotel and a waterfront marina. The south end is transforming from an industrial no-mans land into a bustling enclave full of cool businesses and places to eat.
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