Hawthorne Bridge Ramp, 1957

Finishing touches are being made to the Hawthorne Bridge ramp on the east side of the bridge. The ramp will put Hawthorne Blvd. above grade from the bridge head over to Grand Avenue, allowing rail and street traffic to flow without disrupting east-west traffic.

A2005-001.304 Hawthorne Bridge ramp construction west from SE Grand Ave and Madison St 1957(City of Portland Archives)

22 thoughts on “Hawthorne Bridge Ramp, 1957

  1. My work window overlooks this intersection, just a few feet south of this angle because I don’t have a corner cubicle. I am thrilled to see this one, y’all!

  2. Totally remember skating at that roller rink as late as the mid-80’s. The bumper walls were lined with orange carpet. Good times!

  3. And is that Cinnamon Bear perched atop the billboard support beam to the left of the ramp? If so, he certainly looks pensive.

  4. The elevated approaches to the Hawthorne Bridge created a dark neighborhood of old storefronts and commercial buildings below. In the early 60s there was a coffeehouse down there called the Way Out that featured folk music and espresso drinks. IIRC the owner was Jim Smith, who was the first chair trumpet in the Portland Symphony. Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee appeared there, among others. That would have been about 50 years ago this month.

  5. when I was a kid in the 80’s/90’s the roller rink was the local indoor soccer place. not sure if it still is or not, but all they did was cut in a couple goals, put down some turf and call it a soccer field. everything else from the roller rink was still there.

  6. Actually, since we’re looking west, this is the Madison St ramp that leads to the bridge and the Hawthorne Blvd ramp is to the left out of the photo.

  7. Portland Indoor Soccer Center still occupies that old skating rink. Until just a few years ago, that same carpet lined the walls. They renovated the field/rink and it’s much more professional now. I play there just about every weekend. Cool pic!

  8. Tad,

    I was referring to what looks like a billboard support structure (without a billboard in place) above the Gibson Distributor’s business.

    And, I’m fairly certain it’s not really the Cinnamon Bear. It’s just me having fun with pareidolia.

  9. That car is parked right where one of those godawful metal structures is now. What a waste of money those things are!!

  10. Jim’s entry reminds me for no reason at all of the huge neon sign that sat atop the Gevurtz Furniture building for many years: the figure of a goose with the motto “A little down on a big bill.” I wonder if it has shown up in any VP photos. It was an eyesore but I kinda miss it.

  11. I didn’t realize that the Madison ramp originally had no sidewalk at all. The number of car lanes must have been even higher than 4 lanes (or were they just really wide?). I think if you look at it today you can see where the sidewalk was added on. Perhaps they expected you to walk down under the viaduct (and cross Union), and then come up the ramp from Water. Wait, that one still doesn’t have sidewalks! It was 1957. Who needs sidewalks! And of course they didn’t anticipate double bike lanes right there!

  12. Where did they think those four lanes of traffic were going to go when they reached the two-lane bridge? Maybe they were anticipating its replacement with a bigger bridge some day.

  13. Doug, IIRC these Hawthorne ramps were replaced in the 90s sometime… maybe that’s when the sidewalks arrived? Or am I thinking of Morrison?

  14. Jim,

    I think you’re looking at the roofline of a neighboring building with a couple of industrial exhaust-fan units on it. If I squint I can kinda see how they look like sitting teddy bears.

  15. Tad:
    Both the Hawthorne and Morrison ramps remain the 50’s ramps, except for a portion of the Hawthorne ramps, which were replaced in the 1990s. The Hawthorne ramps from Water Avenue or so, west to the bridge itself were replaced with a steel and concrete structure. When the original ramps were built in 1957, that portion had been done as a cheap wooden trestle, in anticipation of the construction of I-5 there (and perhaps as you say a new Hawthorne Bridge). By that point the wood was deteriorating. An interesting feature of that new section is the provision for the Max line being on the Hawthorne bridge. This was the thinking at that time. If you head east over the bridge and come onto the ramps, you’ll notice cuts in the concrete surface, where a rail line would have veered off to the south (taking out the adjacent building). Of course, it was later decided to build a new bridge. The new ramp threads around an unused column (with it’s green-painted rebar sticking up) that I believe was slated for the long-planned ramps from the McLoughlin viaduct, up onto I-5. (That didn’t happen either).

  16. Tad:
    I can’t remember for sure, but I think that the sidewalks had already been added before that 1990’s project. The sidewalks on the new section were made wider than the old part (except where there are tight clearances on the westbound side, just before the bridge itself). The new sidewalks also have higher railings, in part so cyclists on the sidewalk wouldn’t fall over) I complained about using the modern tube rail, and as a compromise the new rails have an historic looking top part, albeit with a solid concrete (car safety?) lower half.

  17. The bridge also had wood sidewalks for pedestrians. I was a small child when I walked across the bridge (circa 1960). You could look straight down to the river if piece of a slat was missing.

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