Underneath the Bridge: Life in Portland, part 2

The phrase “underneath the bridge,” as sung most famously by the much missed Northwester, Kurt Cobain, evokes a dark, cold loneliness. But in Portland, bridges (whether on them, over them, or under them) are a vital part of Portland life.  For example, take the Morrison Bridge.

Really, take it. You can cross this bridge, which connects SW Portland to SE Portland by spanning the Willamette River, itself a working waterway and very much a part of the city. I’ve crossed this bridge by car, on my bike, and on foot.  And I might have any number of destinations in mind: in the SW, I could be headed downtown, to Powell’s Books, or to the Pearl District. In the SE, where I live, I’d be headed home. You yourself may have any number of destinations in mind, but I strongly urge you, readers: don’t skip what’s underneath.

Closest to the SE corner of the Morrison bridge, the Buckman area spreads away from the river into commercial and residential communities,  offering an excellent option for making a home. But near the water’s edge, among the concrete columns that hold up the bridge above our heads, we find an almost timeless industrial area: brick, steel, cement; and here, under the Morrison Bridge, local business and culture flourish. The scene is old Portland. Imagine:  the stark, clean lines of the bridge form arched walkways; the smell and sound of the river,  boats, rowers, and sailors on the waterway; city lights glittering across the span.

If we want to stay on the water, we can start with a beer at Hair of the Dog Brewing for a Portland-made beer. Then, we’ll work our way over to City Liquidators, where we can find everything from office chairs and desks to entire suites of Italian leather furniture-- all for bargain basement prices. If we’re feeling more high-brow, we’ll take in a show at the Oregon Ballet Theater. But whatever we do, we’ll end up later at Montage, a local icon serving vaguely gothic, over-the-top delicious southern food and drink in a huge warehouse-style setting, lit entirely by candle light, again at the kind of prices that make us second guess the menu. Can Portland really be this affordable and this cool? Yes. And don’t worry: there’s no rush. We can walk around under the bridge for hours—maybe catch a street musician or a random skateboarding exhibition—the Montage kitchen serves until 4am on weekends, 2am during the week.

Essentially, what’s under the Morrison Bridge is equal to anything that might be over it. And there are other bridges, yours for the exploring too. Read all the Under the Bridge Blogs for more on these unique pockets of Portland life.

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Photo via Andrew C., Yelp

Anna Marie Erwert writes from both the renter and new buyer perspective, having (finally) achieved both statuses. She focuses on national real estate trends, specializing in the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMarieErwert.