Last week I was back at the St Johns Bridge to try out a borrowed 50mm lens on my Hasselblad 500 CM loaded with Kodak Portra 160. After using both my 80mm and the 50mm lenses I realize I have to put the 50mm on my ‘most wanted list’.
I seldom visited the St Johns Bridge or Cathedral Park, that runs underneath, until a few years ago when I got back into film photography. I travel over the bridge on my way to Blue Moon Camera in St. Johns to drop off my film for developing. Now I spend some time each week walking under the bridge and along the shore looking for interesting and not so interesting items to make images.
The Bridge is the only steel suspension bridge in the Willamette Valley. It has two 408’ tall Gothic towers, a 1207’ center span and a total length of 2,067 feet. Right now it is also the tallest bridge in Portland, but a new bridge is being built at the other end of Portland and I will have to wait and see if it is taller.
The building of the bridge started in 1929 and helped employ many people during the Depression. Originally it was to be a cantilever bridge but it was cheaper to build a suspension bridge and it became the longest suspension bridge west of the Mississippi at that time. A bit of trivia I was told and can’t confirm, is that the architect originally wanted to paint it the same orange color as the Golden Gate, but when he saw the forest behind the bridge he decided it had to be green. Good choice.
The Dad of a good friend of mine was a photographer for many years and he made some amazing photos during the building process. Hopefully, with her permission, I can show these photos in the future. Thank God for film, because the negatives are in perfect condition and I was able to scan them easily.
If you are a fan of the TV show ‘Grimm’ you will see the bridge featured in many scenes.