Sunday, June 23, 2013

Eagle Avenue Bridge

Eagle Avenue Bridge
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The seemingly-endless series of Cleveland bridge photos continues with a few of the Eagle Avenue Bridge, which crosses a bend of the Cuyahoga River near the city's downtown. You might notice something's missing here, namely the Eagle Avenue the bridge is supposed to carry. The road used to be on a raised viaduct as it approached the bridge, but in 2005 the viaduct was judged to be in poor structural condition and was demolished. The bridge itself was abandoned in place, in the open position. As far as I've seen, there are no immediate plans to do anything with the old bridge, but leaving it there lets the city keep its future options open.

Eagle Avenue Bridge

Various items about the bridge, from across the interwebs:

  • Two photos by Flickr user C Hanchey giving a closer view of the bridge.
  • A post at UrbanOhio about the history of the area in the 19th and early 20th centuries, including a curious short-lived device called "Smead's Rolling Road", a sort of escalator for horse-drawn carts.
  • Cleveland Magazine published a "How Cleveland Are You?" quiz several years ago. One of the items mentions the Eagle Ave. Bridge in passing; apparently the crazy tight turn in the river here (see the map, above) is known as "Collision Bend". As a non-Clevelander, I only got two points on the quiz. One for knowing that rivers are supposed to flow north (because of the Willamette, though), and one for riding the Rapid to something other than a sporting event, while sober. And on the second point, technically I did stop off and hit a brewpub for lunch, but I feel I deserve that quiz point anyway.
  • In 2010 there was some talk of rerouting the river away from Collision Bend, to make room for a proposed casino (!). I'm not sure if that proposal's still in the works or what became of it.
  • The bridge's HistoricBridges.org page
  • And its Bridgehunter page.

Eagle Avenue Bridge Eagle Avenue Bridge

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Nepenthes

I don't get a lot of reader suggestions here on this humble blog. I do try to follow up on them when I get them (the stone marker at N. Peninsular & Farragut, for example), although I can't guarantee exactly when I'll get to take photos, much less put a post together. A couple of months ago, Gentle Reader @howrad took an Instagram photo captioned "new art for 5th/Davis corner, hanging out in PDC basement for staging.", and mentioned me so I'd be alerted to it. So I knew something was on the way, for a change. Then I just had to wait for it to be installed, and then wait for a chance to take some photos, and then I had to figure out what it was called so I could google it. Still, by my usual standards of timeliness here, this post counts as lightning-fast breaking news. Don't get too used to it.

Anyway, this is Nepenthes, which RACC describes as:

Artist Dan Corson and RACC are currently installing Nepenthes, a series of four illuminated sculptures along NW Davis Street. These glowing sculptural elements are inspired by the carnivorous plants called Nepenthes, which are named after the magical Greek potion that eliminates sorrow and suffering. By referencing the patterns of native Oregon native and other carnivorous plants and inserting a quirky expression of nature into an urban environment, these sculptures celebrate Old Town Chinatown neighborhood's unique and diverse community.

This project represents the fulfillment of an opportunity that developed during the Portland Mall Project to increase pedestrian connectivity between Old Town/China Town Festival Streets and the Pearl District. In conjunction with Old Town/Chinatown stakeholders, the Mall design team created a pathway along NW Davis Street, via a sculptural lighting design, which links the music and cultural activities of Old Town/Chinatown to the activities in the Pearl District, also along Davis Street, such as galleries, the Museum of Contemporary Craft and Portland Center Stage, and vice versa.

I always roll my eyes when design people talk about creating corridors or gateways or what have you. This particular corridor is supposed to connect the Pearl District to one of the city's previous attempts to gentrify Old Town. "Festival streets" were a huge urban design buzzword circa 2006, and the city decided Old Town ought to have a couple of them. So they repaved NW Davis & Flanders in concrete between 3rd & 4th, planted some palm trees there, and added some ill-fated Chinese dragons that didn't stick around long. It's been about five years now, and so far the hoped-for upscale real estate boom hasn't yet arrived in Old Town. The city's development people must find this really frustrating. The super-swanky Pearl District, one of their great successes, sits just a few blocks west. But try as they might, they just can't seem to lure the gentrification gods to the other side of Broadway. Hence, I suppose, this corridor of giant lighted pitcher plants.

Don't get me wrong, I think the pitcher plants themselves are pretty cool, although I do sort of wonder how durable they'll be over time. Now that they're lighted I'll need to go back at some point and take some night photos. It's strictly the location that I'm being snarky about. And I could be wrong about that. This may finally be the tipping point, the thing that finally makes Old Town safe for rich Californian retirees, and unaffordable for all the ooky poor and homeless people who live there now. But the city's been trying to make Old Town respectable and family-friendly since roughly 1850, and it hasn't happened yet. I have to say I'm skeptical this time will be any different.

Updated: Apparently these pitcher plants were weird and Portlandy enough to momentarily catch the eye of the Big Serious National Interweb Media, and both Gizmodo and The Atlantic have stories about them now. Still, you (yes, both of you) read it here first, for once. Don't get used to that happening.

Cleveland Union Terminal Viaduct

Cleveland Union Terminal Viaduct
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During my weekend trip to Cleveland last year, my hotel was out near the airport, as the main event I'd come for was nearby. I had a free day, so I decided to go downtown and play tourist, and everyone I talked to advised me to ride the RTA Red Line (aka "The Rapid") into town instead of driving. I prefer transit over driving anyway, and being in an unfamiliar city with a chance of snow in the forecast made this an easy decision. So I parked at the Brookpark RTA station, took the train in, got off at the underground Terminal Tower station, and wandered around taking various photos you've seen here already. Just before entering downtown Cleveland, the Red Line crosses the Cuyahoga River on the Cleveland Union Terminal Viaduct, and I ended up with a few photos of said viaduct on my way in and while I was walking around, so yet another bridge blog post was in order. Unfortunately it didn't occur to me at the time that I'd be doing a post about this particular bridge, so the photos aren't that stellar. A few were taken while crossing the bridge, so they're blurry and don't show a lot, and I later realized I had a couple of other photos with the bridge in the background, lurking behind the Flats Industrial Railroad Bridge.

Flats Industrial Railroad Bridge

I really haven't been able to dig up a lot of info about this bridge, for some reason. Which is a shame since this post doesn't really succeed on the strength of its photos alone. So here's what I've got:

Cleveland Union Terminal Viaduct Ship & Bridges, Cleveland OH Cleveland Union Terminal Viaduct

Saturday, June 15, 2013

sagebrush flowers

sagebrush flowers

There are several varieties of sagebrush across the Northwest; the bush pictured here is along the Columbia River near Vantage, WA, and I think it might be Artemisia rigida, going mostly by its similarity to Google image search results. The flowers are usually more colorful than this, so these may be a bit past their prime, I think. I don't live in sagebrush country myself and it's not a subject I know all that much about. I came across an interesting blog post about sagebrush ecosystems that explains the web of species that depend on sagebrush habitat, and details various threats to this habitat, including agriculture and invasive species.

sagebrush flowers

Incidentally, one of the more charismatic species that relies on sagebrush habitat is the adorable pygmy rabbit. They've come up here once before, in an early blog post from March 2006, in case you were curious about either pygmy rabbits, or early blog posts of mine. I don't really do blog posts of the "Here's a jumble of random stuff with a vague theme" variety anymore. That sort of thing tends to go to Twitter now instead. Where, quite honestly, it has a much wider audience than it would on this humblest of humble blogs here. Twitter's probably the right place for it anyway, given how ephemeral the interwebs can be. More than once I've gone back to look at an old jumble-of-knicknacks-and-whatnots post, only to realize the majority of links are now broken. And then I realize the post in question went up seven years ago (!!!) and it's not a huge surprise for a few web addresses to come and go in that amount of time. And then I realize this blog is actually pretty old in internet years. And then I feel very, very old myself. Sigh.

sagebrush flowers

maryhill / stonehenge, infrared

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Sunday, June 09, 2013

catnip buds

catnip buds catnip buds catnip buds

Inversion: Plus Minus

Inversion: Plus Minus
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A few photos of Inversion: Plus Minus, the pair of rusty steel structures recently installed at the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge. (There's also one, not pictured here, at the east end of the Morrison Bridge as well.) The structures replace several curved ramps between the bridges and Grand Avenue, which I imagine were removed for traffic safety. The structures, we're told, represent ghosts of buildings that were removed when the current interchanges were built, circa 1957. RACC trumpets them in a press release about various bold new public art projects around the Eastside, along with a fairly interesting Q&A with the designers.

Inversion: Plus Minus

For whatever it's worth, local internet commenters are less thrilled about Inversion. See, for example, the comments at Lost Oregon, OregonLive's Commuting blog, and a KATU story about it.

And my opinion? I'm not sure I have one yet. I understand what the designers were aiming at here, and I also get that the look of rusty Cor-Ten steel is not universally admired. I can't really blame people for looking at it and quickly deciding it's ugly. On the other hand, it feels like there are some interesting photo possibilities here. I haven't figured them out quite yet, though, so I'll probably have to go back, and slow down and stare at it for a while, thereby confusing passing motorists even further.

Inversion: Plus Minus Inversion: Plus Minus Inversion: Plus Minus

Sam Hill Memorial Bridge

Sam Hill Memorial Bridge
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Today's entry in the ongoing bridge project takes us way east to the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge, which carries US 97 over the Columbia River between Biggs Junction, Oregon, and Maryhill, Washington, home of the Maryhill Museum and a famous Stonehenge replica. The bridge has a Bridgehunter page, and a page about it at Columbia River Images explains the history of the bridge and the ferry it replaced.

mt. hood from stonehenge

A Bend Bulletin story about the bridge dedication gives an inkling of what a big deal it was to finally have a bridge at this location. At one point the US portion of the Alaska Highway was going to be designated part of US 97, and the Bulletin story daydreams that this would make all of 97 part of the Pan-American Highway system spanning North and South America. Which I suppose would help the regional economy, with all the through truck traffic on the lucrative Rio de Janeiro to Fairbanks route. Or something.

Sam Hill Memorial Bridge Sam Hill Memorial Bridge mt. hood from stonehenge

Oregon Convention Center Plaza

Oregon Convention Center Plaza
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Today's adventure takes us to the Oregon Convention Center Plaza, the new park across the street from the convention center itself. This block is owned by the Portland Development Commission, and was originally slated to be a large "headquarters" hotel attached to the convention center. Which we're told we need because all the other competing convention centers have one. I have very little insight into the convention industry, so this may actually be true as far as I know. In any case, the project was killed a few years ago, by the price tag, entrenched local hotel interests, and general public skepticism about the project. So instead they built this outdoor event space, to be used mostly in connection with conventions across the street. An sales brochure for the plaza notes it has adjustable lighting, lots of electrical outlets and water hookups, and other features an ordinary public plaza (like, say, Pioneer Courthouse Square) wouldn't offer.

Oregon Convention Center Plaza

A key thing to note here is that the Powers That Be haven't completely given up on building a hotel here. Since the plaza may yet turn out to be temporary (like the PDC's Block 47 a few blocks north of here), they appear to have built it on a tight budget, resulting in a fairly generic and cheap-looking space. If you're holding an outdoor convention-style event, I suppose it's actually an upside when your space is sort of a blank slate and you don't have fountains and statues and big trees and so forth to work around. This summer the plaza's also going to host "Plaza Palooza", a free summer concert series. It seems like it would also be ideal for hosting a farmer's market or a food cart pod, though I'm not sure enough people live or work in the vicinity to make either one economically viable here.

Oregon Convention Center Plaza

When I walked through, though, there were no events going on, and I have to say the plaza doesn't work so well as a general-purpose public park. I realize that's completely missing the point of the place, but it's going to be event-less like this the vast majority of the time, so I think it's fair to comment on it. The design doesn't invite people to walk through, or to linger. There's no signage letting people know it's a park, and then there's nowhere to sit, and if I recall correctly there aren't even any trash bins. No art, no fountains, not much in the way of flowers. It wasn't long at all before I ran out of things to take photos of, and I wandered off to find a more interesting subject. Maybe they just don't want the public to get too attached to the place. I dunno.

Oregon Convention Center Plaza Oregon Convention Center Plaza Oregon Convention Center Plaza Oregon Convention Center Plaza

Flats Industrial Railroad Bridge

Flats Industrial Railroad Bridge
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More bridge photos from Cleveland, this time of the Flats Industrial Railroad Bridge. Which, unsurprisingly, carries the Flats Industrial Railroad over the Cuyahoga River. Said railroad is a short-line railroad serving industrial customers (ok, one customer, a flour mill) in the Flats district of Cleveland. All in all, the name is about as self-explanatory as you could hope for.

Flats Industrial Railroad Bridge

It's always helpful when my interests sort of overlap with railfans, even though I'm not really one of them myself. They tend to be meticulous and take lots of photos, often from angles that wouldn't have occurred to me. So here's a nice photo of the bridge at RailroadHeritage.org, and several more at RailPictures.net.

A photo at Cleveland Memory points out that this was once known as the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and St. Louis Railroad Bridge Number 4, while one Flickr user points out that this was part of the New York Central system at one point. Another Flickr user has a photoset about the bridge, including a photo of an award plaque from the American Institute of Steel Construction, which gave it an "Annual Award of Merit, Most Beautiful Steel Bridge, Class IV" for the year 1953. If this sort of award sounds vaguely familiar (and it probably doesn't), the Portland area's John McLoughlin Bridge, on the Clackamas River, won a similar award in 1933, but "Class C" instead of "Class IV", and no, I don't know what the difference is there. Someone else has a large photoset with great photos of the Flats area, including a few of this bridge.

Ship & Bridges, Cleveland OH Ship & Bridges, Cleveland OH Ship & Bridges, Cleveland OH