tillikum crossing

portland bridges

this is entry #11 in my series about beautility

the city of portland has four quadrants, with the east and west sides divided by the willamette (wil-AM-it) river. while our city has many quaint, highly walkable neighborhoods on either side of the river, somehow my home, my work, my husband’s work and my child’s school are each in a different quadrant of town. as such, we find ourselves traveling across these magnificent feats of human engineering several times a day.

tillikum crossing

like many towns, portland takes great pride in our bridges. our newest bridge, the tillikum crossing (the “bridge of the people”) is the first major bridge in the U.S. that was designed to allow access to transit vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians but not cars. it represents the values of the city, (flanked by osprey nesting poles at either end!) and the community has embraced this bridge with a fervor and enthusiasm that mirrors its intent.

i like to think that this enthusiasm is ultimately a city-wide celebration of beautility. it was built for transportation — to provide a safe conduit for portlandians to use our favorite modes of getting around. but it was also designed to be beautiful. the angles formed by the cables are meant to mirror the outline of our beloved mt. hood, which you can often see in the distance. the bridge is also lined with LEDs that change color and pattern based on how fast, deep and cold the river is flowing.

and while there is much to love about the tillikum, it shares the spotlight with its older siblings.

for years, my various places of work have been located very close to either side of the morrison bridge (a bridge that admittedly errs on the side of useful). so it is with great frequency that i find myself suspended magically halfway across the river, looking out at the city, but also gazing out at the string of other downtown bridges while on my way to lunch, or when on a walking one-on-one with a colleague.

after nearly twenty years, these bridges are like old friends to me. i have significant memories attached to many of them. i have laughed and cried while supported by their unwavering strength.

i have driven, walked, biked, motorcycled, and pushed strollers across them. i have shared kisses on them, and held hands across them. i have shouted at the sky from them.

the hawthorne bridge

and every time i leave portland… our bridges are what i am seeing when i inevitably exclaim “damn, i love this city.”