Plus: Take the Mt. Tabor Art Walk.
 
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A gateway to North Portland
St. Johns Bridge soars above a glassy Willamette River in North Portland.
Of the 400 bridges he designed, David B. Steinman said he loved the St. Johns Bridge best. “I put more of myself into that bridge than any other bridge.” | Photo by OregonDOT
With its 14 Gothic arch piers, two soaring steel towers, and “ODOT green” paint job, the St. Johns Bridge in North Portland is one of the most recognizable bridges in the Pacific Northwest.

Designed by prominent 20th century engineer David B. Steinman of Robinson and Steinman, the steel and concrete bridge has long been hailed as a structural masterpiece that seamlessly incorporates practical beauty; in other words, its distinctive arches and towers are as pleasing to the eye as they are vital to its strength and stability.

The St. Johns Bridge was the eighth Willamette River bridge when it was completed in 1931. The communities of St. Johns and Linnton advocated for its construction to support a booming riverfront industrial economy and replace a ferry transporting hundreds of vehicles a day.

Multnomah County voters ultimately passed a bond in 1928 to build the $7.69 million bridge. The project took 21 months to complete, providing crucial Great Depression-era jobs.

City Auditor - Archives & Records Management - Auditor s Historical Records - A2004-002.9145   St Johns Bridge during construction.png

At the time of completion, the 1,207-ft span was the longest US bridge west of Detroit and featured the highest concrete rigid frame piers in the world and the first use of main steel towers without diagonal bracing.

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Photo (taken Dec. 31, 1930) via Portland City Archives

Quick facts about the St. Johns Bridge:
  • It’s the tallest bridge in Portland, with the beacon lights perched atop its spires reaching 401 feet above the river’s surface.
  • It’s named for James Johns, the 1852 founder of a local ferry system and namesake of the St. Johns community.
  • Pilots at the nearby Swan Island airfield wanted the bridge to be painted in black-and-yellow stripes, but Steinman wanted “verde green” to harmonize with Forest Park. County officials announced it would be green on St. Patrick’s Day of 1931.
  • Dedication of the bridge was delayed by a month so that it could be the centerpiece of the 23rd annual Rose Festival.
  • The state took over maintenance in 1975. ODOT completed a $38 million rehabilitation project in 2005, replacing the deck, repainting the towers, upgrading lighting, and improving bike and walking access.
 
 
Events
 
Friday, May 17
  • Oregon International Air Show at Hillsboro | Friday, May 17-Sunday, May 19 | Times vary | Hillsboro Airport, 3355 NE Cornell Rd., Hillsboro | $0-$250 | Turn your face skyward for jaw-dropping shows by ace pilots, including the USAF F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, The KC-135 Demo Team, and others.
  • Hailey Magee in Conversation With Jeff Guenther | Friday, May 17 | 7 p.m. | Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton | Free | Hear from the author of “Stop People Pleasing,” a how-to book blending social science, psychology, and practical exercises to be your own champion.
  • The Weather Machine | Friday, May 17 | 8 p.m. | Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside St., Portland | $15 | Sunny with 100% chance of good times — that’s the forecast with this Portland-born indie band.
Saturday, May 18
  • Walk MS: Portland 2024 | Saturday, May 18 | 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. | Moda Center, 1 N. Center Court St., Portland | Free | Show your support for those living with this chronic neurological disease and the ultimate goal of finding a cure — all are welcome to join.
  • St. Johns Farmers Market | Saturday, May 18 | 9 a.m.-2 p.m. | North Charleston Avenue and Central Street, Portland | Free | Stock up on farm-fresh produce for your weekend recipes, shop for handcrafted goods like pottery, or order food to go.
  • Mt. Tabor Art Walk | Saturday, May 18-Sunday, May 19 | 10 a.m.-5 p.m. | Locations vary, Portland | Free | Take a visually stunning stroll through the Southeast Portland neighborhood to see works by local artists representing a range of styles.
Sunday, May 19
  • East Portland Sunday Parkways | Sunday, May 19 | 11 a.m.-4 p.m. | Locations vary, Portland | Free | Walk, bike, or roll this 3.3-mile route with stops at Gateway Discovery Park, Ventura Park, and Lincoln Park where you’ll find entertainment, vendors, and community booths.
Click here to have your event featured.
 
 
News Notes
 
Development
  • Drivers crossing the existing Interstate Bridge between Portland and Vancouver will start paying tolls when construction begins on the bridge’s replacement in early 2026. Tolling will impact both directions and will help fund the project, projected to cost upwards of $7.5 billion, though fees haven’t yet been determined. (The Columbian)
Civic
  • Portland City Hall has become a construction site. Crews are remodeling City Hall for the first time in 20+ years to prepare for Portland’s voter-approved change in government, which will bring in 12 new elected officials starting Jan. 1, 2025. The chambers are getting technology upgrades, among other improvements. (OPB)
Outdoors
  • Blue Lake Regional Park will reopen in time for Memorial Day weekend. The park in Fairview has been closed for nine months as Metro updated its water and sewer systems. When it reopens Saturday, May 25, visitors will be able to launch small, nonmotorized watercraft like paddleboards and canoes.
Family
  • Like a charging rhino, summer is hurtling toward us — and that means Zoo Nights are on the horizon. Friday evenings from June 21 through Aug. 23, all ages are invited to enjoy live local music, food and drinks (yes, the elephant ears are back), family-friendly activities, and special animal encounters.
State
  • Monday, June 3 is the cutoff to apply for the DEQ’s Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate program. Oregonians who buy or lease a qualifying electric vehicle can get up to $7,500 back — but it may take a while to actually receive the money thanks to the program’s popularity and limited funds. (OPB)
Edu
  • Portland Community College has a new barn where vet tech students will get hands-on training. The $4 million, 10,000-sqft facility on the Rock Creek campus replaces an aging building “beset by structural issues” and will help PCC continue to address shortages in the veterinarian industry. (Portland Business Journal)
Tech
  • Did you use TurboTax to file your 2023 tax return? If so, you might be able to get a refund. TurboTax creator Intuit said Oregon users may have overpaid on their state return because of a program error. Those who were affected can file an amended return within three years. (KOIN)
Sports
  • Tune in to Locked On Blazers to hear about the Trail Blazers’ possible targets for their first-round draft picks, particularly who could be available when it’s time to pick No. 14. Host Mike Richman also shares “some guiding principles” the team can use as next month’s NBA Draft approaches.
Shop
  • Start your morning with a roast made with love and family tradition. Nossa Familia Coffee offers various blends like French Roast and Brazilian Decaf perfect for your morning routine.*
Finance
  • Ah, the art of the balance transfer. This card offers not one, not six, but 18 months of 0% intro APR on balance transfers, giving you nearly two years to save big. (Plus, you can earn 2% cash back on purchases with no annual fee.) Learn more and apply.*
 
 
Award
 
🎞️ And the award goes to...
A collage of four portrait photographs.
Cinema Unbound Awards honorees, clockwise from left: Mickalene Thomas, Sterlin Harjo, Irene Taylor, and Peter Cho and Sun Young Park. | Photos courtesy of PAM CUT
The Portland Art Museum’s PAM Cut has named two chefs, two filmmakers, and one artist with ties to Portland as the fifth-annual Cinema Unbound Awards honorees.

The awards honor “bold, cinematic creators who use their vision to challenge for whom, by whom, and how stories can be told” through various forms, including film, TV, animation, audio, gaming, immersive arts, and more. These are the honorees:
  • Mickalene Thomas | Multidisciplinary artist known for her elaborate portraits of Black women
  • Sterlin Harjo | Co-creator and showrunner of “Reservation Dogs”
  • Irene Taylor | Portland documentarian whose latest work, “I AM: Celine Dion,” will start streaming next month on Prime Video
  • Peter Cho and Sun Young Park | James Beard Award–nominated chef/entrepreneurs behind Han Oak, Toki, and Jeju
Comedian, actor, writer, and philanthropist Ron Funches (“Loot,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) will host the Cinema Unbound Awards ceremony on Friday, June 21 at the Portland Art Museum. Tickets include a cocktail reception and dinner.
 
The Buy
 
Small biz. Celebrate National Small Business Month by exploring our retail shop, Six & Main, featuring local brands from across the country. Find unique gifts for your friends or treat yourself to something new.
 
 
The Wrap
 
Cambrie Juarez headshot Today’s edition by:
Cambrie
From the editor
Summer vacation memories from my childhood are bubbling to the surface after reading this article about the steepest gondola ride in North America. We did a lot of camping at Wallowa Lake in the 1990s, and riding the Wallowa Lake Tramway was a highlight — though my younger self was more interested in the brazen golden-mantled ground squirrels at the top than the panoramic mountain vistas.
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