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A Broadway Bridge photo essay in honor of its 100th birthday

Posted by on April 2nd, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Sunset on Broadway Bridge-1
As this photo attests, the Broadway Bridge is a great place for views of the Fremont Bridge and sunsets over Forest Park. (June 22, 2011)
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)


Portland’s Broadway Bridge turns 100 this year. It officially opened on April 22nd, 1913. There’s a big celebration planned on April 21st as part of the PDX Bridge Festival.

The Broadway is one of Portland’s five bicycle-friendly bridges into downtown and it has the second highest bike traffic (behind the Hawthorne) at an estimated (as per PBOT) average weekday bicycle trip count of 4,335. But numbers seem like a rather impersonal way of estimating this bridges impact on our city. It’s just plain beautiful. Not only is it pleasing to the eye, its paths on either side afford us the pleasure of taking in fantastic views.

I ride this bridge almost every day to and from my office downtown. It provides a physical and mental break that helps me prep for the day ahead and put the work day behind. It’s no surprise this bridge is adored by so many people.

PBOT Bike Coordinator Roger Geller says it wasn’t always such a nice bridge to bike over. “For years, the sidewalk material was bare wooden planks,” he shared today. Geller said someone even slipped while bicycling on the planks, crashed, and broke a hip many years ago. Thankfully there have been many improvements since then including a new bicycle signal on the west end, lights on the bridge, a new deck surface, and more.

As for the bicycling and walking path, Geller is pretty sure that’s been there all along. “In our data, we show the Broadway bridge path as being a bikeway since… well, since before we began keeping records. I’m guessing the sidewalk was part of the original construction and has always been used by people bicycling across the bridge.”

Speaking of people bicycling, I went through my archives recently and pulled out a few of my favorite Broadway Bridge photos:

Ride Along with Justin Gast-5
On a pre-dawn commute. (December 6, 2012)
Sunset riders-1
(January 17th, 2011)
broadway bridge lane-3
PBOT gave people a dedicated bicycling lane during a construction project. (October 4, 2012)

rolling onto Broadway Bridge
A green lane and a wide curb welcome riders onto the path. (January 23rd, 2012)
Riders in the fog-4
Even prettier in the fog. (December 5, 2011)
Oregon Manifest Field Test-66
It was part of the Oregon Manifest Constructor’s Design Challenge race route. (September 24th, 2011)
Observing Broadway traffic-9
The eastside streetcar project made getting over the bridge a bit messy. (October 22, 2010)
Bike traffic Broadway Bridge
It handles bicycle traffic with aplomb. (October 6, 2010)
Tweed Ride Portland 2010-70
It was a fine complement to the Tweed Ride. (January 30, 2010)
Bridge Pedal 2009 from the air-43
Bridge Pedal 2009 from the air-42
It even looks good from above. (August 9, 2009)
Snow Day!
And who could forget trying to ride over it during the Great Storm of 2007! (January 15, 2007)

What do you love about the Broadway? Make sure to wish it happy birthday on the 22nd.

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Comments
  • Sunny April 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    I like this video from a while ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dHmuFTigzI

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  • Hart Noecker April 2, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Welcome to the Century Club, Broadway. I-5, we’ll see you soon.

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  • maccoinnich April 2, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Jonathan – were you (or anyone else) taking photos around 10:30 on Saturday morning on the Broadway Bridge? Someone took a photo of me heading east, and I wouldn’t mind seeing the photo.

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  • Carye Bye April 2, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    My friend Gabby and I are putting on a little afternoon bday party on the bridge (ala mocktails style, though with cake) on Broadways birthday Monday April 22 — if you are riding home stop by… if you love to bake bring a cake! https://www.facebook.com/events/144543665717619/?ref=ts&fref=ts

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  • Joe April 2, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    reminds me of the GG bridge in SF smaller scale :)

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  • John Lascurettes April 2, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    It’s definitely the prettiest of the bridges downtown (both views of and from the bridge), but it ain’t no St. John’s Bridge as far as beauty goes. :)

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  • dwainedibbly April 2, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    A wonderful piece of infrastructure, to be sure.

    Jonathan: how do you keep track of all of your photos? You must have thousands by now.

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  • Ted Buehler April 2, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    How about a photoshopped sharrow in the right hand lanes? That would be a nice B-Day present for this fine old bridge.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Ayleen April 3, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Yea! Thanks Jonathan. Since first exploring this city by bike by crossing that bridge, to that being my preferred spot for Breakfast on the Bridges, to making a Filmed by Bike movie about it, to being a NE dweller for nearly 13 years – I’ve always love the Broadway.

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  • Joseph E April 3, 2013 at 9:02 am

    The broadway bridge traffic counts:
    415 bikes peak eastbound in 1 hour, vs 1394 motor vehicles.
    Since on lane of traffic without intersections can carry 2000 vehicles per hour, the bridge itself only needs 1 lane each way for cars/buses (though there would need to be 2 lanes next to the lights at each end).

    415 bikes in one hour is a lot of traffic for a 10 foot wide sidewalk shared with pedestrians.

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  • Rebecca April 3, 2013 at 10:25 am

    It’s incredible to look up and down the river valley from the middle of the Broadway. I’d love to see the Bridge of the Gods retrofitted with a similar side bike/ped path so that we could get the same kind of experience from the middle of the Columbia River Gorge.

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  • John April 3, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Thanks Jonathan!
    I proposed to my wife on the Broadway bridge on June 18, 2008. The view looked very similar to the photo you posted at the top of the story (taken in June 2011). The sun was setting behind the Fremont and West HIlls in a similar fashion. I remember had to ride ahead of her and stop, we soaked in the view for a moment, then I asked her to marry me. I picked that bridge because of its significance to me and my wife and our relationship to the City.

    Thanks for bringing back the memories!!

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  • Joseph E April 4, 2013 at 10:46 am

    The PDX Bridge Festival will be celebrating the Broadway Bridge’s birthday on April 21st: http://pdxbridgefestival.org/festival/4088/

    “Event hosted at Game restaurant, located in the Rose Quarter. $5 suggested donation at door for individuals, $10 per family (all donations benefit PDX Bridge Festival’s August 10th celebration).”

    There will be live music, artwork, bridge-relate crafts for sale, etc.

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