Meet the Burnside Bridge

WHAT: The Burnside Bridge, built in 1926 and under construction for what seems like forever. (FYI, it’s only been seven months.)

FUN FACT: Three renegade skaters started building the Burnside Skatepark under the bridge in 1990 without city approval, and helped spark a global movement. “The modern skatepark revolution began with the DIY construction of Burnside,” photographer Bryce Kanights told ESPN. “Before Burnside, there were only a handful of skateparks, and it was painfully obvious that they weren’t built by skateboarders.”

WHY IT’S SPECIAL: The Burnside was the first Willamette River bridge in Portland to be designed with the help of an architect, and it shows. The bridge has two towers inspired by Italian Renaissance architecture, and in 2012, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Burnside is now in a period of transition. In addition to the ongoing maintenance work, the county is currently deciding how to retrofit or rebuild the bridge so that it can withstand a major earthquake. Here’s the latest update on where those deliberations stand.

AND THE #BURNSIDEBRIDGE INSTA-GRAMMY GOES TO…pdxpilot, for catching the bridge hard at work. 💪

QUOTABLE: “In the chaos of the city, it’s a sanctuary. A lot of people have found safety there. I’ve slept under the bridge when I haven’t had a place to sleep. I’ve been fed under the bridge.” —Sage Bolyard, one of the early skateboarders at Burnside Skatepark

Flashback Friday is a weekly-ish series featuring people and events that shaped our city, and we’re binging on bridges right now. Read more about all our city’s bridges here.