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The St. Johns Bridge is a large suspension bridge located in Portland, Oregon, crossing the Willamette River. About five miles north of downtown,it connects the St. Johns region, on the east side of the river, with Highway 30 on the west side. The bridge is the northernmost bridge on the Willamette, and the only one north of downtown to carry automobile or pedestrian traffic. The bridge was built during Portland's last major period of bridge construction, during the boom years of the 1920s, and played an important role in allowing traffic on Highway 30 to avoid downtown Portland. Since the advent of the Eisenhower Interstate System in the 1950s, and the replacement of Highway 30 by Interstate 84 as the major carrier of traffic on the West/East axis, the bridge has lost some of its functional purpose. However, there is also much more local commuter traffic as Portland and some of the surrounding areas are much more densely packed.

Whatever the functional role of the bridge, it is also a great work of art. The bridge's 1200 feet main span was an engineering feat in 1931, it currently makes it only the 91st longest suspension bridge in the world. However, while numbers can be superseded, artistry can not, and the gigantic towers and view up and down the Willamette River, as well as of the Tualatin Mountains covered by Forest Park are hard things to compute the value of. I am, of course, very fond of Portland, Oregon and its environs, but I think this bridge is a good place to visit, especially for those interested in bridge architecture. The park underneath the bridge, Cathedral Park, is also a unique place to visit.

As a final note, I should also say that the bridge is one of the things that sets St. Johns apart from the rest of Portland. St. Johns is a neighborhood on the outskirts of Portland that seems, for whatever reason, to be in some sort of parallel universe to the rest of the city. The presence of the gigantic Gothic bridge is part of that air.

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