Portland's Historic Hawthorne Bridge - Paris Group Realty, LLC Portland OR
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Portland’s Historic Hawthorne Bridge

Nestled majestically over the flowing waters of the Willamette River, Portland’s historic Hawthorne Bridge stands tall, a testament to the city’s rich history and architectural prowess. Constructed in 1910 by Waddell & Harrington, this iconic truss bridge with a vertical lift has become an enduring symbol of Portland’s ingenuity and resilience. Serving as a vital lifeline between Hawthorne Boulevard and Madison Street, it holds the distinction of being the oldest vertical-lift bridge in operation in the United States.

The story of the Hawthorne Bridge is one steeped in innovation and evolution. Originally conceived to replace the aging Madison Street Bridge, its construction marked a significant milestone in Portland’s development. Over the years, the bridge has undergone several renovations, including a notable overhaul in 1998-1999, which saw the replacement of its steel grated deck and the repainting of its towering structure. Despite these changes, the Hawthorne Bridge has retained its historic charm and continues to be a cornerstone of Portland’s transportation network.

As the busiest bicycle and transit bridge in Oregon, the Hawthorne Bridge is more than just a means of crossing the river—it’s a bustling thoroughfare teeming with life and activity. Every day, it welcomes over 8,000 cyclists and 800 TriMet buses, serving as a vital conduit for commuters and travelers alike. Its unique vertical lift mechanism, with a clearance of 110 feet, allows for seamless passage of both river traffic and city dwellers, embodying the spirit of progress and connectivity that defines Portland’s ethos.

The bridge was named in honor of Dr. James C. Hawthorne, a physician and politician who left an indelible mark on the region. Dr. Hawthorne co-founded the Oregon Asylum for the Insane, situated near what is now SE Hawthorne Blvd, in the 1850’s. His commitment to compassionate care and social reform laid the foundation for mental health treatment in Oregon. The bridge’s association with Dr. Hawthorne serves as a poignant reminder of his contributions to the community and his enduring impact on Portland’s history.

Spanning the bustling Hawthorne Boulevard, after which it is named, the bridge serves as a vital link between the vibrant neighborhoods on either side of the river. With its graceful arches and stately presence, the Hawthorne Bridge not only facilitates transportation but also serves as a beloved landmark that reflects the essence of Portland’s eclectic character.

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