Why Tilikum Crossing is the Best Bridge in Portland

By Molly MacGilbert
Posted in Overcup Press, on May 01, 2018

Tilikum Crossing is my favorite bridge in Portland. Which is definitely saying something, because there are so many to choose from—we don’t call it Bridgetown for nothin’. (Does anyone actually call it Bridgetown? Anyway, you get the point...)

Last summer, while working at a juice bar on the west side, I would get off work around seven and ride the streetcar home across the Tilikum (even though it took 20 minutes longer than the bus). Some lucky nights the streetcar would sluggishly chug across the bridge just as the sun set into the river and the lights on the bridge’s white wings changed from pink to green to red and back again.

Along with its gorgeous views from sunrise to sunset, the best thing about Tilikum Crossing is its absence of cars. Buses, streetcars, MAX trains, joggers, cyclists, and pedestrians are all welcome, but strictly no cars are allowed. That means no traffic—except foot traffic—and it means the bridge is an environmentally friendly option.

Tilikum Crossing also literally and figuratively supports Portland’s science enthusiasts and innovative researchers, bridging the gap between OMSI on the east side and OHSU on the west. Does this make it the nerdiest bridge in town? And it might just be the coolest…

Source: https://overcupbooks.com/products/tilikum-crossing-bridge-of-the-people-portlands-bridges-and-a-new-icon

Here are a few more reasons why Tilikum Crossing is the coolest, learned from Overcup’s forthcoming book Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People: Portland’s Bridges and a New Icon, by TC architect Donald MacDonald and co-author Ira Nadel:

  • It’s the first bridge built across the Willamette since 1973. The bridge turns three this year, and its gleaming youth stands out next to its rustier neighbors.
  • It’s inspired by the local landscape. The Tilikum’s white peaks were designed to mimic Mount Hood—which can be viewed from the bridge on clear days.
  • It should survive an earthquake. Despite its proximity to earthquake fault lines, the Tilikum was built in alignment with new, strict earthquake standards. In other words, it wouldn’t be a bad place to be when the probably impending earthquake hits—unlike its steely counterparts with counterweights.
  • It’s brilliant for bikers. By consulting groups including the Street Trust, the Tilikum was developed geographically, dimensionally, and aesthetically for an optimal bike-riding experience.
  • It’s not just a bridge for the people; it’s also, in part, by the people. The final design for the Tilikum was a public process involving local selection and advisory committees consulting neighborhoods, environmentalists, bicyclists, designers, and more.

  • Check out All-Classical Portland’s Tili-Cam® for a 24/7 real-time video stream of the bridge and a live audio stream of All-Classical Portland.


    Learn more about Tilikum Crossing in all its aesthetic, environmental, earthquake-proof and peak-viewing coolness in Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People: Portland’s Bridges and a New Icon, set to release on May 15 and available for pre-order now through Overcup Press.