|Portland's northernmost Willamette River Bridge, the St. Johns, was finished in 1931. The bridge replaced the city's last ferry, which linked the communities of Linnton and St. Johns. The bridge is named for the community of St. Johns, which was named in honor of settler James John. Mr. John started the local ferry system with one rowboat in 1852.
Designed by internationally renowned engineer David B. Steinman (1886-1960) and Holton D. Robinson, of New York, the St. Johns was the longest suspension-type bridge west of the Mississippi River at the time of construction. It is the only major highway suspension bridge in the Willamette Valley and one of only three major highway suspension bridges in Oregon.
The four-lane structure features lofty Gothic arch towers of steel, Gothic-inspired steel frame piers of reinforced concrete, and the longest "pre-stressed" steel cable rope strands designed up to the time of construction. Steinman also selected the color of the bridge, Verde green, which he chose to harmonize with the forest at the west end of the structure.
Of the 400 bridges he was to design, Steinman said, "If you asked me which of the bridges I love best, I believe I would say the St. Johns Bridge. I put more of myself into that bridge than any other bridge." Contrary to popular belief, Steinman did not design San Francisco's famous Golden Gate Bridge.