WL's North Portland tour

Post Author:

The Willamette: St Johns is a neighborhood in North Portland located on a peninsula between the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. Mike, Steve, and I live one house away from each other on the bluffs overlooking the Willamette.

Superfund Site and Railroad Bridge: Walking down the bluff from our houses, there's the ruin of an old creosote factory below that hasn't been active since the 1980's. All that remains now is a large swath of concrete, slowly being reclaimed by nature. If you walk across the concrete, through the cottonwoods and wild flowers, you can get to the base of the Railroad Bridge.

Pirate's Cove / Bonfire Beach:The base of the bridge makes a little cove with a sandy beach, and when the water level is low we go down there to make fires and hang out. Sometimes the people who live on the boat in the cove will come by too. They have a secret bar in the ruined concrete structures on the side of the bridge they call the Taj Mahal.

Old Dock: This is my favorite spot in the superfund site. There's a small rocky beach, next to it a broken down dock and big concrete blocks with iron rods sticking out. There used to be two small white boats that were shipwrecked here- they were half underneath the water and you could climb out onto them and look inside the cabins. Surprisingly, today they were vanished.

St Johns Town Square: St Johns was founded in 1865- it's own city, before it was annexed by Portland in 1915. It still feels separate and frozen in time- the place behind the clock tower is a bar/restaurant called Dad's that has been around for 100 years. Modernity is emerging slowly, and the result is a mixture of comforting and surreal. (Downtown picture)

Pattie's Home Plate: Pattie's Place where they serve eggs, hash browns, coffee, orange juice, bacon, sausage, wigs, plastic flowers, fish lures, postcards, ribbons, baseball cards, beads, and second hand clothing est 1951.

St John's Bridge: From downtown, the St John's Bridge connects to Forest Park and the west side. It was built by David Steinman in 1931, after the town's citizens did an intensive grassroots campaign and scraped together the money together to complete it. Steinman's bridges had such an emotional impact on people, it was said that each one was like a poem. At the end of his career he said “If you asked me which of the bridges I love best, I believe I would say the St. Johns bridge. I put more of myself into that bridge than any other bridge.”

St John's Bridge from our street: Walking down our street you can see the bridge in the distance, one of the reasons I love living here.

Cathedral Park: Below the bridge is Cathedral Park, where we sit on the beach and watch the ducks and the sun going down behind the hills.