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Volume One Number Three

St. Johns Bridge Opens Today
Portland, Oregon 1931

Dr. Steinman's Gothic Wonder Arches Over Willamette River

June 13 -- Dr. D.B. Steinman, designer of the St. John's Bridge, chose a gothic style of architecture with the determined purpose of making the span his most beautiful work, "The gothic arch was made of stone in the mideval days because steel had not been developed. It is really more appropriate in steel. Until recently the public took it for granted that steel bridges had to be utilitarian and unattractive, but now the interest is turning to the development of forms of beauty in steel."

Though accustomed to having the type of bridge left to his discretion, Dr. Steinman & Robinson, Consulting Engineers, worked out and submitted to the county commissioners plans and estimates for both the suspension and the canti- lever forms before the former was finally chosen. His estimate showed that the suspension type, beside from being more suitable for the site, would be $640,000 cheaper than the cantilever style.

Then, as an unexpected present to the taxpayer came the bids on the work, reducing the estimate another $500,000. The largest part of this saving came in the contract for the substructure let to The Gilpin Construction Company of Portland for $1,026,897. This amount falls $374,000 short of Dr. Steinman's estimate.

At the dedication ceremony, Dr. Steinman told the crowds, "A challenge and an opportunity to create a structure of enduring beauty in the God-given wonderous background was offered us when were asked to design the bridge. It is the most beautiful bridge in the world we feel." Said by a man who helped design bridges on five different continents, every one believed him.

The bridge is the largest rope strand suspension bridge in the world and the first requiring the use of aviation lights on the towers. Covering the 50-foot spires at the top of the towers is copper sheathing secured to the ribs of the cable saddle. The bridge "represents the highest modern development in bridge construction. We found it well and truly done, indicating the excellence of the work of the local contractors," said Steinman.     --Bridget E. Smith, editor


Our third edition, St. Johns Bridge Opens Today [opened June 13, 1931], was devoted entirely to the building of the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon and was published in 1991 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of this historic bridge. It was our first opportunity to introduce our paper to the neighborhood. Our first two editions were about Eastern Oregon where we liked to vacation: rockhounding, exploring and taking photographs. St. Johns Neighborhood Association and a group of local citizens organized and held a day long celebration under the bridge in Cathedral Park. It was well attended and we enjoyed selling our papers dressed in our newsboy costume. Among several speakers, I met the Metro Director Mike Burton, as well as City Council member Earl Blumenauer. Earl is now our representative in Congress.


photo by Bridget E. Smith


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Bridget E. Smith, editor & publisher

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Historical Gazette
Published in Portland, Oregon
© 1991-