Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Excellent Outing Continued: Hawthorne Bridge

Welcome to Rose City Wednesday! When I left you last week I believe we were standing next to the statue of Mayor Vera Katz at the southern end of the Eastbank Esplanade, near the Hawthorne Bridge—& I forgot to say “to be continued.”

But perhaps you knew that. After all, if you’ve been following along, you know that I live nowhere near the southeastern corner of the Hawthorne Bridge, & you also know that I’ve set myself the task of walking all the “walkable” Portland bridges. Here it was, a glorious Sunday afternoon, with a big fat sun & the most pleasantly mild of breezes—so despite the fact that I’d already hiked from Northwest Portland & there was a bus stop nearby that could have taken me back to my neighborhood, I of course set off across the Hawthorne Bridge.

Perhaps because the day was so beautiful, I found the Hawthorne Bridge to make for a pleasant walk indeed. As you can see in the photo above, the sidewalk—which is very ample—is divided into both a walking & a bike lane; & on such a splendid spring day, this was a good thing indeed, as there was plenty of bike & pedestrian traffic on the bridge, especially heading west. Bikes in fact must cross to the west on the north side & to the east on the south side. While there are no similar restrictions for pedestrians, the flow certainly tends in that direction. In fact, per Wikipedia, the Hawthorne Bridge carries the most bike traffic of any Portland bridge, averaging 4,800 cyclists per day. In addition (& having mentioned the Hawthorne Bridge bus stop a while back—tho that stop is actually past the bridge on the east side), it also carries the most bus traffic: over 800 Trimet buses, averaging 17,400 riders daily.

The bridge rising
In addition, the Hawthorne Bridge, like most of the Portland bridges, is a drawbridge—specifically a vertical lift type drawbridge, in which the deck lifts straight up rather than lifting up in two separate sections like a bascule bridge—again, Wikipedia has a little gif illustrating the action of a vertical lift bridge. But the more-or-less exciting thing is that the bridge went into operation while I was crossing it. I only say “more-or-less” because the throng of people crossing the bridge prevented the best views (as well as the best camera angles!), but it was fun nonetheless. The opening was occasioned by the Portland Spirit excursion boat, which you can see emerging in the photo below.

The bridge was opened in 1910, & replaced an earlier bridge on the site that was destroyed in a fire. One of its most distinctive features—in addition to its rather dramatic truss profile—is the steel grating used for the car traffic lanes. 

Although the bridge carries many bus riders, it doesn’t carry light rail or streetcars, & no current transit plans are in place for it to do so—it had been considered as a route for the planned Max light rail Orange line from connecting Southwest & Southeast Portland, but a dedicated bridge is currently being built for that further south on the Willamette.

The Hawthorne Bridge as seen from Waterfront Park
It was a great outing! I ended up strolling thru Waterfront Park, then back east across the bridge & strolled until I was well along SE Hawthorne Boulevard before finally catching the buses that brought me home.

Four bridges down: four more to go!


  1. Thanks for taking us on these outings. The photos are lovely bright and clear, and I feel like I'm getting to know your city better.

    1. Hi HKatz: Thanks you! So very happy that you're enjoying these posts.

  2. "...the bridge went into operation while I was crossing it."


    1. Hi Jacqueline: So sorry to be so late in responding (just sent you an email, by the way!), but yes, indeed!

  3. I think I've been missing these bridge posts! Just had a quick look at them all. That "Steel Bridge" is particularly impressive. It must be great living somewhere with so many ideosyncratic bridges (we've only that one "transporter bridge" round here that I know of).

    1. Hi Dominic: Likewise with the apologies for the late response--things have been a bit of a slog lately, & I'm behind on practically everything! Yes, I love the bridges here--tho I must say your transporter bridge may itself be more idiosyncratic than any of these!


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