Saturday, February 24, 2007

Here's another bridge and two pix from Bob and Pat, adding to the fun of our day in the sun

That's the Fremont Bridge soaring high above these buildings and streets in the Pearl District. Here's what Wikipedia says about the Pearl:

The Pearl District is a former warehouse and light industrial area just north of downtown Portland, Oregon now noted for its art galleries and upscale businesses and residences. Its boundaries are West Burnside Street on the south, NW Broadway on the east, the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks to the north, and the Interstate 405 Freeway on the west. The area has undergone significant development since the late 1990s and is now full of high-rise condominiums and warehouse-to-loft conversions.

In the late 1980s, an elevated highway ramp that ran along NW Lovejoy St. from the Lovejoy bridge past NW 10th Ave. was demolished, opening dozens of surrounding blocks (including some brownfield sites) for development, which peaked in the 2000s. The increasing density has attracted a mix of restaurants, brewpubs, shops, and art galleries, though in some cases pioneering tenants have been priced out of the area.

According to the Pearl District Business Association, Thomas Augustine, a local gallery owner, coined the name Pearl District more than 10 years ago to suggest that its industrial buildings were like crusty oysters, and that the galleries and artists' lofts within were like pearls. "There were very few visible changes in the area," says Al Solhiem, a developer who has been involved in many projects in the district. "People would drive by and not have a clue as to what was inside." As local business people were looking to label the growing area—the "warehouse district" or the "brewery district" were two suggestions—a writer for Alaska Airlines borrowed Augustine's phrase, according to Solheim. The name stuck.

The area is home to several Portland icons, including Powell's City of Books. The former Weinhard Brewery, which operated continuously from 1864 to September 1999, was shut down by Stroh's upon the purchase of the Weinhard's brand by Miller Brewing and sold for redevelopment as the Brewery Blocks. Art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants abound, and there are also a number of small clubs and bars. The United States Post Office main processing facility for all of Oregon and SW Washington was built in the Pearl in 1964, next to Union Station. This location was chosen in order for the post office to be able to better serve towns outside the Portland metro area.

New buildings include the Elizabeth Lofts at 9th and Everett. Two of the rescued Lovejoy Columns, which were painted by Tom Stefopoulos, were recently installed in the plaza adjoining Elizabeth Lofts.

The Pearl District is home to a number of local artists and art institutions. Area art galleries sponsor simultaneous artists' receptions on the first Thursday of every month.

The district includes most of the historic North Park Blocks (1869), as well as two recently developed, highly innovative public plazas: Jamison Square (2000) is built around a fountain which simulates a tidal pool (very popular with toddlers) that is periodically filled by artificial waterfalls and then drained into a grating. Tanner Springs Park (2003) is a recreated natural area featuring wetlands, walking trail, and creek.

The Portland Streetcar, which opened in 2001, runs through the district. Free wireless internet (provided by Personal Telco) is available throughout the Pearl District. The movie Drugstore Cowboy (1989), by Gus Van Sant, has several scenes shot in the old industrial neighborhood, which was then known as the "Northwest Industrial Triangle."

I haven't seen all of Portland's bridges yet, but the Fremont is the most beautiful one I've seen. It's also so high up in the air that just looking at it makes my chest tighten. However, I can truthfully testify that I've driven back and forth over it, twice. Yes, I get into the middlemost lane that I possibly can; thank goodness the outside width of the bridge is 81 feet, according to my copy of "The Portland Bridge Book." Yes, I do continue to breathe. Yes, I am certain that I can do anything that normally scares me about heights and motion since I've driven 175 feet up in the air on the lower deck and even higher on the upper deck. And I know that I'll get some magnificent photos of the Fremont Bridge to share with you. In the meantime, if you're becoming consumed with curiousity about Portland's bridges, why not get your own copy of Sharon Wood Wortman and Ed Wortman's book. You couldn't do any better because she loves these bridges so very much, and Ed is a bridge engineer who worked on the Fremont.

Here we are at the end of our walk with the Musburgers. That's Pioneer Courthouse in the background. It's the oldest Federal building in the Pacific Northwest and the second oldest west of the Mississippi.

There we are, Bob, me and Mama, with the marina and the Marquam in the background.

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