Tonight, I’m leaving my hip little condo in Cedar Hills, near the Zoo and Hoyt Arboretum, for a quick midnight snack with my buddy Spider at the Hot Cake House, a 24 hour breakfast joint located just off the east of the bridge. I hop on 26, take a quick jaunt under a tunnel, and exit in the University District. I drive by a line of sky rise condos and town houses with large porches and gentle sloping roofs. I pass the Cheerful Tortoise, a sports bar where I watch most of my football during the season. The road curves and I pass by Suki’s—the best karaoke bar in Portland.
Finally, I reach the bridge. Pedestrians and bikers travel easily and safely on my left as I admire the clear night sky through my windshield. A mile and a half on this bridge goes by in a jiffy, and I’m impressed at how well this bridge has held up over the years. It’s a true piece of architectural genius and an engineering marvel.
The Bridge opened shortly after the Sellwood Bridge on December 21st, 1926. It is a mile and a half long cantilever truss bridge spanning the Willamette River. It has the distinction of being the only cantilever deck truss bridge in Oregon and was designed by famed engineer Gustav Lindenthal (who also designed the Hell Gate Bridge in New York City). Travel east on the bridge and it turns into SE Powell and, eventually, leads up to Mt. Hood. If you go west, you pass through the University District of downtown Portland and eventually to the beach. For convenience, you can take 26, cross the Ross Island Bridge and go virtually anywhere in the state of Oregon.
I reach the restaurant, grab some amazing biscuits and gravy and cheap, hot coffee. I leave the restaurant, full—with leftovers—and only six dollars poorer.
Heading west and snaking my way through downtown, I decide against going home and keep travelling up 26 until I reach the beach, about an hour later. There’s nothing like the beach at night. I roll up my shorts, kick off my shoes and stroll leisurely through the cold sand. The nip of autumn is in the air, but it’s still somewhat warm and I roam the coastline sans jacket.
I look at my watch, see that it’s well after two am and, knowing I have to be at Intel for work bright and early, I head back to my suburban condo and get some shut eye. I hop back on 26 and marvel that one bridge would allow me to go from the suburbs to the city to the beach to the mountains, all without having to change freeways, pay tolls, worry about getting lost or spend astronomical amounts of time in the car.
Thank you Mr.Lindenthal. Thank you so much.