St. Johns Bridge, 1931

Spectacular! This 1931 panorama shows the St. Johns Bridge, and the approach road coming from the north, nearing completion. The eastside anchorage seems to still have some scaffolding in place. This great image was sent in by Kai on behalf of a St. Johns resident.

st johns bridge 1931(St. Johns Resident)

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24 Responses to “St. Johns Bridge, 1931”

  1. NativePDX Says:

    One thing that is noticeable about most of these old photos,
    is the lack of trees and the stunning views without them.

  2. KLR Says:

    Heinz Rice Flakes, urp!

    What were the derricks on the west side for? Freight unloading, or were they drilling wells?

  3. Carter Kennedy Says:

    Those “derricks” look like pile drivers. They are either helping to build something or are moored there between jobs. One is in the lower left corner next to the ferry dock. That is a heck of a slope down to the ferry. Notice the ferry’s high guide walls for use in high water.

  4. Bailey Says:

    This is one sharp photograph!

  5. Loren Says:

    That’s one of 3 Portland Fireboats just upriver of the bridge on the east bank. The 3 fireboats where put into serve in 1927-8

  6. Bailey Says:

    ok…I’m guessing this to be June of 1928. In History: June 9 1st showing of a Donald Duck cartoon, June 12 Al Capone is indicted on 5,000 counts of prohibition and perjury, June 13 63rd Belmont: Charley Kurtsinger aboard Twenty Grand wins in 2:29.6

  7. Loren Says:

    I noticed that ( has almost the same picture at the end of their section on St. Johns. the only thing missing is the ferry in the middle of the river.

  8. tad Says:

    And today:
    (is it just me or does the road seem to have less of a curve now?)

    NativePDX: I have to agree with you there – while on the whole, trees make the view more enjoyable, there are definitely some places where some judicious cutting is in order. Especially when much of the growth is “trash” like ivy.

  9. sharon dunnahoo Says:

    Wish I could have a framed print of this panorama. Wow.

  10. oldoregon Says:

    “Ferryboat Sale Planned. – Plans for disposal of the ferryboat Multnomah, owned by Multnomah county, are being laid, it was announced yesterday by Roadmaster Buck and County Bridge Engineer Reed. The ferry will not be needed after June 1, when the St. Johns Bridge is to be completed. The boat was put into operations January 1, 1927”

    Morning Oregonian, 01/29/1931, page 13.

  11. Mike Says:

    Never knew there were house boats moored by the bridge.

  12. tad Says:

    lol at first I read that as “Roadmaster Buick”. :)

    Wow, another example of Portland graft and corruption at work? Why would they buy a brand-new ferryboat in 1927? Surely they knew by then that the bridge was being planned.

  13. oldoregon Says:

    There were 3 bridge bond measures on the ballot in Nov 1926, the Broadway, the Interstate (what we call Fremont) and the St Johns bonds. Voters approved the Broadway Bonds but killed the Interstate and St Johns Bridge Bonds. The Ferry in St Johns was already inadequate, so in December funds were requested for a better Ferry to replace it.

  14. Joyce Newton Says:

    used to cross this every time I visit ed my mother in Scappose e would go to a restaurant in St Johns. Also my father worked on that bridge in the 1930’s. It is still my favorite I call it the cathedral bridge.

  15. Jim Says:

    Great photo. You can just make out the extant City Hall/Fire Department (later a police station). Across the bridge on the left you can see the old James John High School. This early high school closed after Roosevelt High was built in the 20s and burned down in 1934. Can you imagine the view from the West facing classrooms? I imagine daydreaming would have been a pretty daunting problem.

  16. tad Says:

    @Jim, is the James John site the site of the now-closed Our Daily Bread restaurant?

  17. Kelsey Ivey Says:

    Very cool!

  18. Jane Says:

    I have taught at James John Elementary for 13 years and have a wonderful west facing classroom. October – April I have the most spectacular view of the St John’s Bridge and the hills of Forest Park! When they repaired the bridge a few years ago I had the a few crew from the company come and talk to my students about their work etc and they gave us a light bulb from one of the top spires. The bulb is about as big as a butternut squash! James John was built in 1928 and named after Jimmy John early Linnton pioneer and ferry master! Great history from this area.

  19. Jim Says:


    I would say the old James John High School was “near” or partially on the property that now hold the restaurant. A different view in Don Nelson’s “A Pictorial History of St. Johns” suggests that the high school was on the block to the NW of the old City Hall rather than directly across the street.

  20. isaac32767 Says:

    Seriously cool photo. Thanks to whoever for sharing it.

    I would have loved to see the PDX waterfront when it was still a place people lived and worked.

  21. Eric C Says:

    @Mike – those old houseboats look like scows or shantyboats, and are probably part of a scowtown, one of the many that were along the Willamette in these parts back then. Here’s a blog post from Barney Blalock on one of the scowtown legends:

  22. Eric C Says:

    .. and apparently shantyboat living is still an issue here in Portland:

  23. Rob Moses Says:

    great picture! I love old ones like this.

  24. Says:

    Sent from my HTC Desire™ C

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