Vista Bridge, 1930s

The Public Service Building and the First Congregational Church dominate the skyline as seen under the Vista Bridge and east on  SW Jefferson Street, probably in the 1930s. Larry Clark supplies this scan of an old slide found at a garage sale.

17 thoughts on “Vista Bridge, 1930s

  1. Just to the left of the First Congregational Church, what I believe is the backside of the Marabba West is also doing some skyline dominating.

  2. I was going to say the same thing, Jim. It was a very interesting building. In the early 60s the Hilton & Standard Plaza were added to the skyline but the Public Service Building was still one of the tallest buildings in town.

  3. There was a trolley. And when I was a child it was called “Suicide Bridge” and continued to be for many years. Allegedly from people jumping from it. I recall a story about a lady who jumped after tossing her pet dog off first.

  4. Just to clarify, I don’t think this span was ever the Ford Street Bridge. I believe the Ford Street Bridge was an earlier wood bridge that was replaced by the current bridge in the 1920’s (although on a slightly different alignment). The earlier bridge and this bridge both carried streetcar lines to Council Crest.

  5. I was repeating something I had read on the internet. Probably should have checked it out before posting it.

  6. First, what a great blog. Second, I’d say Mt. Hood dominates the skyline in this photo – but maybe that’s just me.

    Finally, I’d add, that I’ve worked with many an old paramedic (now I am one too) – and they confirmed the suicide tradition of the Vista Bridge. Used to be several a year.

  7. Speaking of the old Ford Street Bridge, here’s a story from the Jan. 9, 1907 New York Times about a doctor murdered on the span.

    “PORTLAND, Oregon, Jan. 8. — The police are now convinced that Dr. Philip Edwards Johnson, son of the late Archdeacon Johnson of Staten Island, N Y., whose body was found in the Canon[sic] Road Gulch last night, was murdered by thugs and that the body was thrown from the Ford Street Bridge, 117 fet above.”

    I think they meant “Canyon Road Gulch.” See the link for the full article with interesting details.

  8. Brian – great bit of early Portland history. Here’s a photo from The Oregonian:

    “Ford Street Bridge Across Canyon Road, From Which Dr. Philip Edwards Johnson was Dashed to His Death”

    “X Cross Indicates Point Where the Body was Found”

  9. My father, Frederick William Field, a dentist practicing in Roseburg jumped to his death, July 9, 1950 – 62 years ago. I moved to Portland two weeks ago and plan a pilgrimage tomorrow to honor my father and walk the bridge. I was three when he died and his death has had ramifications throughout my life, it is time to finish the grieving process and let him go.

  10. WOW, what an amazing bridge, walked the bridge with my oldest son and my dog Biscotti, we sat in one of the four
    lovely alcoves taking in the view, walked the area admiring all the architecturally stunning homes and amazing old trees. It was a special day of healing.

  11. I used to live at the bottom of Vista, and would love taking walks up to this bridge. When we had that really big snow storm a few years ago, I tried to go snowboarding down it, but to no avail(I didnt have proper snowboarding boots). It really is a peaceful place. Its a pity a lot of the iron work on it has been cut off, Im guessing from meth heads.

  12. I still remember ‘going to the beach’ going out Jefferson Street to Canyon Road and up hill westward while the tunnels were being excavated and built.

  13. All us kids at Lincoln High..Called it. The SewerPipe Bridge. cause it had a smell under.

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