West End Steel Bridge, 1952

The complex series of Steel Bridge ramps leading to and from Harbor Drive and NW Glisan Street is clearly illustrated in this 1952 aerial photo. The coal gas storage tank is long gone, along with every other building you see here. The Portland Classical Chinese Garden is on the block in the extreme lower right corner.

(City of Portland Archives)

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8 Responses to “West End Steel Bridge, 1952”

  1. Jim Says:

    Interesting how is been reconfigured. It’s much less complicated today.

    http://goo.gl/maps/5ypYe

  2. MizVerde Says:

    There’s still a little stub of old ramp left today, hidden in the trees.

  3. oldwxwatcher Says:

    The area looked much the same about five years later when a friend and I spent many a summer day on the ramp in the foreground watching trains entering and leaving the Union Depot yards. There was always a lot of action going on. Note the old 3-blade semaphore signal next to the tracks just east of Front Ave.

  4. Carter Says:

    Not only did the ramps connect the bridge to Harbor Drive and Glisan, but also to Front and Everett. And if that weren’t complicated enough, Front Avenue serpentined underneath the whole thing.

    It seems like you can’t find a photo of the river from those days without a log raft in it.

  5. Kirk J. Poole ("Since '62!") Says:

    I remember this configuration lasted until about ’72 or so. We used to go through it on our way to Buckaroos games at the MC.

  6. Angelaknits Says:

    I’m LOVING your site. I just started one of my own…homeandheartpdx.weebly.com where I’m attempting to consolidate all there is to know about the historical homes, apartments and hotels in the Portland Metro. I would LOVE input, as it’s meant to be a community collaboration of knowledge of our history. May I also link your site to my fb page, https://www.facebook.com/HomeAndTheHeartPDX? I think others would like to see what you have to offer!
    Thanks again for your time put into this site. :)

  7. rod taylor Says:

    @Carter.A great observation. That goes a long way towards explaining why we can’t find a old growth tree anymore. For a brief while we were smack in the middle of the world capital of logging.

    oldwxwatcher we too used to love the late afternoons in the late ’40s at this spot when you could watch the departure of the Portland Rose, The Empire Builder/North Coast Limited connection and the Shasta Daylight in all their majesty around these years. Union Station was a going concern as was whole neighborhood. This bridge saw a lot of interesting (to us) heavy truck traffic as well as a lot of river traffic that required the raising and lowering of the lower deck

  8. oldwxwatcher Says:

    rod: In the mid-1950s the Union Pacific’s “City of Portland” had a 5 PM departure time. Often in the afternoon we’d see a UP switch engine pull the streamliner backwards from the Albina yard to Union Station. Of course, we dreamed that we’d someday be among the “ritzy” passengers taking the train all the way to Chicago but that never happened. :(

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