A view of Portland in 1879, before there were any bridges! (Via)

For the past couple of years, we have watched the cabled silhouette of Tilikum Crossing take form near our office. As we watched the new bridge being built and got excited about being able to cross it (by foot, by bike, by MAX...but not by car!), we gained a deeper appreciation for all the noble structures that span our beloved stretch of the Willamette. So we started doing some research on the engineering and historical context of each of the bridges. And being technical illustrators, we thought a poster would be a good format to present our findings.

A poster from 1910 designed to build excitement for bridge construction. (Via)

Of course, we aren’t the first to make such a thing. ErrolGraphics created perhaps the most widely-known bridge poster. And there are a couple of other notable examples (one by Paul Lanquist, one by April Black). So what would distinguish our poster? We wanted to create something that would contextualize the beauty of the bridges with a good amount of the fascinating information and material that our research turned up. We decided to go with a simple, vector-line style for the bridge elevations (presented at scale and in order from north to south), and then set them off with detail photos from the Historic American Engineering Record, an urban development timeline, transportation mode data, structural information, and a hybrid key map that shows the streets and topography surrounding the river.

A vision of waterfront development from 1932. (Via)

In realizing this design, we are grateful to several people for their assistance and input. Thanks to Clifton Burt for graphic design critique. Our sources for this project are: the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (LIDAR imagery); Stamen Design (line map); Darrell Fuhriman (line drawing basis for 6 bridges); TriMet & Multnomah County (elevations for 10, 12); NOAA Office of Coast Survey (Willamette River depths); Library of Congress Historic American Engineering Record (photos 1-9, 11; elevations); and the City of Portland (urban development facts).