Burnside Bridge, 1920

Oregon is home to many archives, most rich with collections documenting Oregon’s history. In order to highlight some of these collections containing Portland-area images, Vintage Portland has invited photo submissions from other archives within the region. Today’s photo and text is provided by the Multnomah County Library John Wilson Special Collections.

The Burnside Bridge, looking east, 1920.

Access the catalog information by clicking here.

Burnside Bridge, looking east, from Investigation of Burnside Street Bridge, Portland, Oregon / [Report of] Herbert Nunn, State Highway Engineer [Salem] : the Commission, [1920].

16 thoughts on “Burnside Bridge, 1920

  1. If you look the right of the bridge behind the Blake Moffitt and Towne building you can see the top of the manufactured gas holder tank that was there at the time.

  2. This is the original Burnside Bridge. The photo appears to have been taken from the swing span while it was open. The only remaining swing span bridge that I know of in the Portland area is the railroad bridge that crosses the slough.

    Hanky-panky with the contracting of the current bridge along with the Powell and Sellwood bridges led to the recall of all three Multnomah County Commissioners when it was learned that they paid $500,000 more than the lowest bid.

  3. Wonderful photo and collaboration with Multnomah County Library John Wilson Collection. Note that it appears there are vehicles on both sides of the gate.

    The current Burnside Bridge alignment must be in a right of way immediately south as it is closer to the Towne Building. Today the bridge skirts the front door of the Templeton Building built shortly after this image about 1924, and which adjoins the Towne Building.

  4. @Jim, there is also a swing bridge where the railroad crosses the main channel, tight against the Washington shore.

  5. This is an incredible shot. My favorite is the “Edwards’ Dependable Coffee” building sign at left. I think some enterprising Portland roaster should bring that back.

  6. +1 to Dave Marvin’s question above, because it appears as if quite a bit of the river was filled in for I-5, and that the Towne building is a lot closer to the water than it is today. If not, perhaps it’s just an optical illusion.

  7. bob, i would guess this bridge is in the same easement as the bridge today; the difference would be the widening of burnside, allowing for a wider bridge as well.

  8. Two spans of this bridge still exist, one at Dodge Park and another at Bull Run.
    Jim, there is no swing span over the slough, I believe you are thinking of the south channel of the Columbia also known as Multnomah channel. The slough is about one half mile south of the Columbia.

  9. Kenn, Multnomah Channel separates Sauvie Island from the Oregon ‘mainland.’ Is that also the name for the Columbia south channel? My quick look on Google maps isn’t revealing anything other than “Columbia River” (and “North Portland Harbor,” specifically at the spot where the railroad crosses the channel).

  10. For Bob and wl: The two Burnsides, East and West, don’t really line up at the River; a straight line of the western segment from 2nd Ave. to 15th Ave. would hit the River slightly north of the current alignment. Perhaps the current bridge went slightly south to account for this, as the picture seems to have the old bridge not parallel with the Towne Building.

  11. I am surprised to see that the pier we see here is made of metal instead of concrete or stone. It seems to me a metal pier wouldn’t last very long compared to concrete or stone.

  12. Since the span is not visible, does this mean that the photographer was on the swing span taking the picture?

  13. Wow!!!!.. this really is an amazing shot.. not only because of the Burnside Bridge, but because it’s a shot to the East!.. On the far left side where the barge (just beyond) is, is my current place of employment (Pacific Coast Fruit Co.).. & to realize that btwn. that barge and where P-Coast is now located is the I-5 just blows me away.. Those background apt. buildings are still there!.. that might amaze me even more, I mean really, after all this time, the same apts. that I go by on a daily basis to get to work have been there since those shots were taken..sick. … awesome shots to whomever posted them… wayyyyyy b4 I was kickin’ down I-84 at 85mph at 415 in the morning on my to work.. Meanwhile, the skate-boarders underneath the BB are semi-quietly changing the landscape.. along with those 2 huge new apt. towers… smh… eh, things/times gotta change……………………….. I guess… still, cool to see how it was.


  14. Carter, steel forms, I believe the name is caisons, were filled with concrete, long lasting as many remain to this day from the 1800’s. At low tide those from the original steel bridge still exist downstream from the present steel bridge near the west shore.

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