Saturday, August 31, 2013

Julia Butler Hansen Bridge

Puget Island Bridge
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Several years ago, I did a post about the Wahkiakum County Ferry, which crosses the Columbia River between Westport, Oregon, and Washington's Puget Island. This was before bridges became a thing here on this humble blog, so I just included the above photo and noted there was a bridge from Puget Island to the Washington mainland, and moved on. Only later did I realize I'd made a serious omission, to the degree that anything on this blog counts as remotely serious. I'd decided a while back that I ought to include bridges to islands in my little project, for the sake of completeness, hence the posts last year about the Sauvie Island and Lambert Slough bridges. Clearly, a new bridge post was required here too.

I've had something of a mental block about reusing photos in multiple posts, so I entertained the notion that I needed to go back and take new photos specifically of the bridge. I think I'm sort of getting over that idea, though; I ended up reusing the same photos in multiple Cleveland bridge posts just because it's very difficult to take a photo of only one bridge there and not have three others in the background. I mean, I'm quite willing to go do something absurd and tedious for the sake of a blog post on a blog almost nobody reads. I think I've demonstrated that pretty conclusively already. It's just that I prefer it to be easy and not too time consuming. So I think we're going to go with the one recycled photo this time around.

In that spirit, let's move along. The Julia Butler Hansen Bridge connects Washington's Puget Island with the north bank of the Columbia at Cathlamet, WA. The bridge's HistoryLink.org page indicates it was once known simply as the Puget Island - Cathlamet Bridge until it was renamed in the late 1980s to honor the area's longtime state legislator & US Representative. Further downriver, a National Wildlife Refuge for the endangered Columbian White-Tailed Deer is also named in her honor.

Bridge proposals had been discussed repeatedly for several decades before today's bridge was built; in 1922 the states of Oregon and Washington studied bridging the entire river at Puget Island, rather than the bridge and ferry arrangement we ended up with. I imagine that would have been a massively expensive project had it been built, but the news article notes that one of the engineers doing the study was Conde McCullough, who designed many of the classic Art Deco bridges along the Oregon Coast. So it's hard not to daydream about what might have been. The eventual bridge is much more utilitarian-looking, and seems to have been built in part as a Depression-era stimulus project. It's not that visually captivating as far as bridges go, and I doubt it attracts many tourists on its own merits (I mean, it didn't even draw me back there), but it at least has its own Structurae & BridgeHunter pages. I tend to use that as a measure of whether a bridge is officially "obscure" or not, but I admit I may have something of a warped perspective on the subject.

The Cathlamet Chamber of Commerce has a brief catalog of things to see and do around Puget Island, many relating to its Scandinavian heritage. A 1953 Oregonian article gives a sense of just how physically and culturally isolated Puget Island once was, dubbing it "Little Norway", and noting that many residents once spoke Norwegian at home. The separate island culture more or less fell by the wayside after the bridge opened, and the local single-room schoolhouse closed in favor of school buses to the English-speaking mainland.

The bridge was dedicated on August 26th 1939, just days before the outbreak of World War II. In Washington DC, President Roosevelt pressed a button to officially open the bridge. Rep. Hansen presided over the ceremony, and various politicians and dignitaries spoke. US Senator Lewis Schwellenbach alluded to contemporary events as he spoke: "Senator Schwellenbach drew a parallel between the peaceful purposes for which America builds roads and bridges and the military use for which they are designed in Europe.". Sigh...

Frank Beach Memorial Fountain

Here's a slideshow of the Frank Beach Memorial Fountain at the Rose Garden in Washington Park. The fountain is a memorial to Frank E. Beach, a prominent local businessman of the early 20th century, who (we're told) invented the Rose Festival and christened Portland the "Rose City". He also developed the Parkrose neighborhood, participated in civic organizations, appeared in the local society pages from time to time, and apparently had a role in preserving the downtown Park Blocks.

Beach died in 1934, after being hit by a car, shortly after exiting the Vista Avenue streetcar. An Oregonian editorial the next day cautioned pedestrians to pay closer attention to traffic and to please look both ways before crossing the street.

The fountain was a gift to the city from Beach's son, Frank L. Beach. The winning design (by the unavoidable Lee Kelly) was unveiled in May 1974, and a groundbreaking ceremony was held at that year's Rose Festival. The completed fountain was officially dedicated at the next year's Rose Festival. In 1977 the younger Beach donated an information kiosk to the Rose Garden. He passed away later that year, and the kiosk was later dedicated to him.

I'm actually not going to go off on yet another gripe-fest about Kelly, the fountain's sculptor. Maybe it's the stainless steel, or maybe it's the reflecting pool, which makes it at least sort of a fountain, as broadly defined. Whatever the reason, this one and the Kelly Fountain downtown can stay. It's still not my favorite style, but I realize this style was considered super-groovy back in the 70s for some reason. So keeping a couple of examples around would make sense, for the sake of art history or something.

Snails

Snails

Portland's new The Fields city park includes a number of small sculptures here and there. They, collectively, are Snails, by Portland sculptor Christine Bourdette. Her description of Snails, via RACC:

My goal has been to create episodic moments of surprise with works of small scale—objects of simple form but with a small amount of intimate detail that an adult would bend down to look at and a child would find of familiar scale. The thought of the garden paradise—Elysian Fields—came in to play, as well as natural forms that might reflect the eddying, spiraling, form of the park’s design. It seemed an opportunity to create work playful and quirky that somehow reflects the idea of escape, release, imagination, and slowing down—reasons we go to the parks.

The snail—a creature of every garden, beloved or not, but necessary to the natural scheme—is the basis of my imagery here. Its spiral shell is its retreat wherever it is and is a metaphor for renewal and regeneration. The mathematical sequence of that spiral underlies the growth patterns of nature, though these works depart from elegant mathematics as they are eccentric abstractions. And, of course, there is the matter of its pace; the snail is another reminder to slow down, to be in the present.
Snails Snails Snails Snails Snails

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Fields


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Portland's new city park at the north end of the Pearl District is named, pretentiously, "The Fields Neighborhood Park". It completes a planned chain of city parks that also includes Jamison Square and Tanner Springs a few blocks to the south, and despite the twee name, this is actually the least pretentious of the three. The center of the park is just a big grassy oval that serves as the neighborhood dog park. A smaller area off to one side is dedicated to some high-end playground equipment. That seems odd, but I suppose the dog park to playground ratio reflects the actual demographics of the Pearl District. In any case, there's also a landscaped area with flowers at the north end of the park, and a few small and unobtrusive public art pieces scattered around the park. The public art will get its own post here, because I get two blog posts out of the place if I do that, and I feel twice as productive that way. I'm sure I'd sound more like a credible Real Blogger if I insisted it was my SEO content optimization strategy or something. And as far as I know that might even be a valid strategy. I haven't looked into it. I don't do this for a living, so I actively avoid the whole subject of how to get more page views. To me that feels like being needy and trying too hard, and the whole business feels vaguely embarrassing just thinking about it.

People more cynical than I -- who do exist, believe it or not -- might argue the park is less pretentious than its elder siblings because the economy tanked before they built it, and the condo bubble money just wasn't there. There may be a grain of truth there; the slideshow above includes a couple of photos of a design diagram the city posted during construction. It provisionally included an "Urbanology Trail", whatever that is, along the northern edge of the park, budget permitting. That doesn't seem to have come to pass, although this article insists the current trail next to the railroad tracks is the Urbanology Trail. I don't know what an Urbanology Trail is supposed to look like, and maybe nobody does, so that could actually be true as far as I know. At one point the city also had grand plans for a pedestrian bridge over Naito Parkway to the redeveloped Centennial Mills building. That hasn't come to pass either, although we can blame this one on the still-not-redeveloped Centennial Mills building, which is a whole other tar pit.

For several years before the park went in, "The Fields" was merely an un-landscaped big grassy field, awaiting city funds to make the place fancy. Then, as now, it served as the neighborhood dog park. To brighten things up a little and raise the tone and such, the area temporarily hosted an abstract sculpture titled Rational Exuberance. Which, sited as it was near the heart of Portland's real estate bubble, was possibly the most ironic thing ever. It's gone now. No idea where it went. I'm going to guess a well-heeled private collector has it now, just going by the name.

Vantage Bridge

Ginkgo Petrified Forest
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A few photos of Eastern Washington's Vantage Bridge, where Interstate 90 crosses the Columbia River at the tiny burg of Vantage, WA. The usual bridge-nerd sites ( BridgeHunter and Structurae ) have pages with all the engineering trivia you'd ever want to know about it.

The current bridge, and the current town, only date to around 1962 when the Wanapum Dam flooded their previous incarnations. And before them, a history article at the Ellensburg Daily Record explains that a small car ferry plied the Columbia at this spot, and the original town of Vantage sat next to the ferry at yet another townsite. I suppose the town (such as it is) could move yet again if they ever remove the dam to help salmon runs or something. The whole thing reminds me of a certain 1970s folk-rock song about the impermanence of almost everything. The guy with the blue ruffled tux adds an extra layer of cheesy awesomeness to the video. If you ask me.

Ginkgo Petrified Forest

As for the original 1927 Vantage Bridge, instead of demolishing it the state elected to move it to a spot on the Snake River east of the Tri-Cities, where it now serves as the Lyons Ferry Bridge. It's a fairly huge bridge in its own right, and I'm really curious how they moved it. I've come across several reminiscences about Snake River life before the bridge came, but so far nothing about how the bridge actually got there. If anyone out there has links, info, photos, home movies, etc. about how they pulled this off, feel free to post a comment down below. Thx. Mgmt.

Ginkgo Petrified Forest Ginkgo Petrified Forest Ginkgo Petrified Forest Ginkgo Petrified Forest Ginkgo Petrified Forest Ginkgo Petrified Forest

SE 16th & Brooklyn

SE 16th & Brooklyn

A few days ago I did a post about the City Repair street graphic at SE 15th & Alder. I mentioned something then about a possible future blog project of tracking down other painted intersections. And then, by chance, I stumbled across another one, this time at SE 16th & Brooklyn. I didn't have the ultrawide lens with me, or a quadcopter camera drone, or anything like that. But I had something just as good, or maybe better, namely the Brooklyn St. footbridge right next to the intersection. So I was able to just stand at the top of the bridge and take photos looking down. That doesn't really translate to any of the other street graphics out there, but hey, it got the job done this time.

SE 16th & Brooklyn

The City Repair page about this project describes the design of colorful interlocking gears:

At the intersection of 16th & Brooklyn in SE Portland is a community-built skate park and a pedestrian bridge over the railroad. We chose this location for a number of reasons--to expand it’s potential as a community gathering place, to be more inviting to the neighborhood, and because it is where we live! Muted by past and present industry, we felt that this area could really use some more color and vitality. We want to grow out from the skate park and recharge this space, by collaborating in the creation of a street mural that captures our collective creativity and identities.

Over several months we have amassed ideas from community members and artists who we’ve met along the way, and developed the design pictured here. The center of each gear features a piece created by a participant in this collaborative process—and the gears show that, while we are each individual, we maintain connections that are integral to keeping the community churning. The points of contact between two gears set into motion contact between other gears in the collection, overall creating a movement that is sustained by the whole group. Each part is equally necessary and essential to everyone working together.

SE 16th & Brooklyn

In the 15th & Alder post, I also said something about checking the Oregonian historical database for all the fascinating historical events that have occurred nearby. So I tried that for 16th & Brooklyn, and I've got absolutely nothing to pass along. But hey, I tried. On the bright side, this is a sign the houses nearby probably aren't haunted or anything. Or at least not haunted due to anything newsworthy.

The one other thing here besides the footbridge and the painted intersection is the Brooklyn St. Skate Spot, a skate park directly under the bridge. I'm not a skater myself; around age 16 I was given a skateboard because they were on sale at Costco. Which I guess was a big deal because this was shortly after the wheel was invented. Anyway, I tried it once, fell off, and decided it wasn't for me, so it went in the attic to gather dust. It may still be in my dad's attic for all I know. A practically-unused vintage 1980s skateboard might be worth something on eBay. I haven't actually checked. Anyway, long story short, there's a skate park here, if you're into that.

SE 16th & Brooklyn SE 16th & Brooklyn SE 16th & Brooklyn

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Brooklyn Street Bridge


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Photos of the Brooklyn St. footbridge over the Union Pacific tracks in SE Portland, north of Powell Boulevard and its older sibling at Lafayette St. This bridge only dates to October 1976, and while it looks a lot more stable than the Lafayette St. bridge, it somehow manages to be even uglier. The razor wire and the random garbage probably aren't helping. On the other hand, there's a residential neighborhood on the east side of the bridge. There's also a fairly new skate park directly under the bridge, and the intersection of Brooklyn St. and SE 16th Avenue hosts its own City Repair street graphic, which you'll see in its own post here sooner or later. So that part's ok. The west side of the bridge is strictly an industrial area & probably not part of anyone's commute, so it's not really clear to me why the city felt a bridge was needed here. But hey.

A recent comment here by Gentle Reader Max pointed out that the current bridge is supposed to be demolished for MAX construction in the near future. The construction equipment nearby seems to indicate that's going to happen fairly soon now. The MAX master plan envisions a new bridge here eventually, but no funding for it has been identified at this time, which I imagine means an extended period of time with no bridge here. So, I guess, enjoy this one while you can, if you can.

Main Avenue Bridge

Main Avenue Bridge
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Photos of Cleveland's Main Avenue Bridge, which carries the Memorial Shoreway freeway over the Cuyahoga River. It's sometimes called the Memorial Shoreway Bridge, and rarely if ever by its offical name, the "Harold H. Burton Memorial Bridge". I didn't walk across this one, or drive across it, or even get that close to it. But it's a really enormous bridge, and it's painted a bright blue color, and it kept showing up off in the distance in my photos, so I figured it was sort of demanding its own post. Info about this bridge can be had at some of the usual sources: HistoricBridges.org & the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History at Case Western Reserve University.

Main Avenue Bridge Main Avenue Bridge

Lafayette Street Bridge


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Here's a slideshow of the sketchy Lafayette St. Bridge, which crosses over the Union Pacific Railroad's Brooklyn Yard in SE Portland. I lived in the Brooklyn neighborhood for a while back in the 90s, and I never used this bridge. I knew it existed; I even thought about using it once or twice. But it didn't go anywhere I needed to go, and it didn't exactly look bike-friendly, so I never got around to it.

In a recent post about the pedestrian bridge at Union Station, I tried to list a few other similar pedestrian bridges I was sort of aware of. I vaguely remembered this one and the one at Brooklyn St. north of Powell, so I included them. A commenter then pointed out that the Lafayette & Brooklyn St. bridges were going to be demolished soon & eventually replaced due to Milwaukie MAX construction. So I figured I ought to hurry up and take some photos before that happened.

The Lafayette St. Bridge is a bit... picturesque. It's surrounded by a somewhat gritty industrial area, not overly inviting for the casual pedestrian. The bridge is tall and narrow, with steep staircases at either end, and there's nothing remotely ADA-compliant about it. It seems to have been cobbled together from scrap wood and spare railroad parts. Without using a level or straightedge, apparently -- especially on the staircases. There's graffiti everywhere. There are even gaps and holes in the boards that make up the bridge, and you can see daylight through the gaps. This is not to say it's actually unsafe, just that it fails to inspire confidence, which is something I look for in a bridge.

As you've probably guessed by now, this is not a newly built bridge. In fact this year marks the 70th birthday of the Layfayette St. Bridge. Back in 1943, the Southern Pacific Railroad (now part of Union Pacific) convinced the city to close several railroad crossings in the Brooklyn neighborhood, at Lafayette, Pershing, and Haig streets. The city agreed, with a stipulation that the railroad had to construct a pedestrian bridge at Lafayette St. at its own expense. The bridge was partially reconstructed in 1961, replacing some wooden parts with metal. This may have been the last serious maintenance it's received. The local neighborhood association was already concerned about its state of disrepair back in 1984, nearly 30 years ago. In addition to demanding basic repairs and safety features, the neighbors lobbied for better bike accessibility at the time. They, or their descendants, are obviously still waiting for that to happen.

The Oregonian database shows several instances of people being hit by trains at the Lafayette St. crossing prior to 1943, usually with fatal results. So it's no big mystery why the bridge was built.

While researching this post, I came across a Tinzeroes post about the two SE footbridges (here & the one at Brooklyn St.), and a post at Sellwood Street about this one, both from 2006. The Sellwood Street post shows a board on the bridge labeled "DANGER - do not step". Which could mean there really was a broken board, or just that somebody with chalk was trolling people who use the bridge. I didn't see this warning when I visited, so either the board's been replaced since then, or the warning's been painted over. I also came across a mention of this bridge in a paper about pedestrian/bike bridges, including an inventory of ones in the greater Portland area. I'm not saying I'm going to take that on as a project. Most of the ones on the list look kind of uninteresting, especially the ones over freeways. But if I ever do decide to do that at some point, I now have a list to work from, which is always the key step. Oh, how do I keep stumbling into these projects?

McCosh Park, Moses Lake

McCosh Park, Moses Lake WA
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From a recent trip to Moses Lake, Washington, a few photos of the city's McCosh Park on the shore of the town's eponymous lake. Surprisingly the lake is at least partly natural, even though it's the middle of a desert. And unlike many desert lakes (Mono Lake & Summer Lake, for instance), it isn't just a dead pool of salt and alkali. It actually has fish and everything. The weird geological history of the region may have something to do with this.

McCosh Park, Moses Lake WA

The park itself has more amenities than you'd expect for a town of this size: An amphitheater and even a water park, and apparently it also hosts the local farmers market. It probably helps being the largest town for many miles in all directions.

McCosh Park, Moses Lake WA McCosh Park, Moses Lake WA McCosh Park, Moses Lake WA McCosh Park, Moses Lake WA McCosh Park, Moses Lake WA McCosh Park, Moses Lake WA

Portals

Portals

A few photos of Portals, near the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge at SE Water Avenue & Clay St. (Not to be confused with Portal, singular, the hammer-arch thingy on Southwest 1st.) The RACC description of it:

Using slabs of concrete cut from the original Holman Transfer Building, Portals acknowledges the industrial history of the Eastbank and creates continually changing views of the city and the Willamette River. Concrete is made from the earth...gravel, sand and rock from the river. The materials embody geology and time while the swale looks to the future.

Portals

Portals is part of the same Green Street project as Eye River, and was created by the same sculptor. As the above blurb mentions, it's basically a collection of recycled concrete chunks left over from the rehab of the adjacent Holman Transfer Building, now known as the RiverEast Center. Former city commissioner Randy Leonard hated the RiverEast project for some reason, but it seems to have gone ahead anyway without his approval.

Portals

A PDC PR piece about the project mentions that the building "... was built in 1951, serving as a product distribution hub for Quaker Oats, Coca Cola and C&H Sugar for many years.". It was actually the second Holman Transfer building on this site; the National Register of Historic Places nomination for downtown's Roosevelt Hotel building mentions that its architects also designed the "utilitarian" and "now demolished" 1912 Holman Transfer Building. A sketch of that building appears in a short history/PR video from the current Holman Distribution Co. They seem proud of having been founded here in 1864, but they must've pulled up stakes and left town at some point, because their narrator can't seem to pronounce "Oregon" correctly. (Hint: Ore-e-GONE is wrong. Very, very wrong.) So, go figure.

Portals Portals Portals Portals

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Eye River

Eye River

Eye River sits in front of the Portland Community College CLIMB building at SE Clay St. & Water Avenue, part of something they call the "Stormwater Education Plaza":

The Eye River is a sculpture that refers to the working waterfront of the past and looks toward an environmental future. It functions as an autonomous icon within the Storm Water Education Plaza and as a link to the flow of water and people toward the Willamette River.

The form references the historic ‘log dog,’ a tool used to bind together log rafts that floated down the river to the Inman Poulson Lumber Mill on the nearby riverbank. Although the mill is no longer there, the Central Eastside continues to have a vibrant commercial and industrial component that mixes residential, recreation, and business.

Eye River is not simply an historic marker; it is also integral to the citizens with a vision of a sustainable future. This particular sculpture is the first in a series of three to be placed along the SE Clay “Green Street,” a corridor that leads bicyclists and pedestrians to the river. Each sculpture in the series will have the same cast steel form but the central oculus is specific to each site. The Water Education Plaza is the closest to the river and the pattern of blue and green fused glass alludes to the flow of water with its flickering light.

This project was a joint effort of PCC and Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services. The latter is the polite-society name for the local sewer agency. I was going to say it's more "tasteful" but I'm pretty sure that's not the word I want to use here. In any case, they obtained a federal grant under the the EPA's Innovative Wet Weather Program (which seems to have since ended) to turn SE Clay between 12th and the river into an educational "green street". And because this is Portland, a certain percentage of the green street money goes to art that's sort of related to the concept of rivery greenness.

Eye River

BES provides one of the core services that allows modern civilization to even exist. Pretty much everyone acknowledges this; it's just that for the most part we'd rather not think about it at length, lest we end up thinking about the composition and sheer volume of what's gurgling along under our feet, and what it probably smells like. Eew. Typically people don't want to hear from BES at all about any topic, because it's rarely a good sign when you hear from them. With any luck, they're merely raising sewer rates again. Otherwise it's because your basement is filling up with... something... and hopefully you didn't have anything valuable stored there.

Anyone who's lived here for a few years has already gotten the memo about stormwater, which is what this Green Street PR effort wants to teach us about. The city and the media harp on it roughly every time the sewers overflow, which still happens every so often. It seems the BES agency's distant forebears back in the 19th century did a very silly thing, and designed our storm drains and sewers to flow into the same pipe, because it was cheap and they didn't know any better. This design sort of works ok until there's a rainstorm, because when one overflows, both of them overflow, and they both overflow straight into the river, untreated and unfiltered. And it turns out we're in a part of the world where it rains every so often, to put it mildly. The BES just spent two decades on the $1.4 billion Big Pipe project to kinda-sorta address the problem. But they'd still like us to know that if less rain went into the sewers, that would be awesome, and they'd like to share some Important Tips about how you can be a better person, at least where stormwater is concerned. I'm not sure they offer actual sewer rate discounts for being a better person though.

Eye River

Anyway, here are a few items about the project as a whole, and where Eye River fits into it:

Eye River Eye River Eye River Eye River Eye River Eye River

Rico Pasado

Rico Pasado

A few photos of Rico Pasado, the cute bear sculpture on the NE side of Jamison Square. Awwww, it's so cute! It feels like overkill to say anything about it besides "Awwwwww...", but this humble blog specializes in overkill, sadly. In that spirit, the RACC page about Rico Pasado has this to say:

Mauricio Saldaña’s Rico Pasado was donated to Jamison Square by the Portland Rotary Club. Rico Pasado, or “rich past”, references both the brown bears that used to frequent the area and the 100 years of service provided by the Rotary Club. Rico Pasado was Saldaña’s first solo public art commission, but he has become well known in Portland for his facility in granite and has worked with public artist Fernanda D’Agostino on a number of projects.
Rico Pasado

Saldaña also created Vida y Esperanza, the cute squirrel sculpture at Mt. Talbert Nature Park. RACC's database also returns a couple of recent book-themed works of his up in the Kenton neighborhood. I'm not familiar with those, but I'm willing to say he's 2 for 2 in the cute animal department. (This is about as sophisticated as the art criticism ever gets here, in case you were wondering.)

Rico Pasado

He also has a photo gallery at Stone NW, showing these & other projects he's been involved with, including two Fernanda D'Agostino sculptures for the TriMet transit mall: Urban Hydrology and Patterns May be an Action, or the Trace Left by an Action. Also shown are some sculptures up at Smith & Bybee Lakes that I'm fairly certain I have photos of, lurking somewhere in the depths of iPhoto. I may have to go track those down now, or soon.

Rico Pasado Rico Pasado Jamison Square