- Portland Tribune - News
Every Friday in Stumptown Stumper, the Portland Tribune offers a trivia question and answer that helps you boost your Rose City IQ.
Q: Which one of Portland's famous bridges was nearly painted black and yellow in bumblebee stripes?
A: It's a little-known fact that the majestic St. Johns Bridge may have had a different claim to fame when it opened in 1931 than being the longest suspension-type bridge west of Detroit at the time.
According to 'The Portland Bridge Book' by Sharon Wood Wortman, 'Because of its proximity to the Swan Island field, the first proposed color scheme for the bridge was selected with airplanes in mind. Aviation authorities … wanted the span to be painted with yellow and black stripes, bumblebee fashion. County commissioners, reportedly 'flabbergasted,' disregarded the advice, waiting until St. Patrick's Day - two months before the bridge opened - to announce the bridge would be painted green.'
You might get a different version of the color selection from the Oregon Department of Transportation, which owns and maintains the bridge. The agency says that the bridge color was chosen by its designer, internationally renowned engineer David B. Steinman of New York.
'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,' ODOT describes in its written history.
So was it St. Patrick's Day or Forest Park that inspired the color choice? Seems like it's water under the bridge at this point.
Next week's Stumper: What is the oldest animal at the Oregon Zoo?