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About St John's

St. Johns is bordered by the Columbia River (separating it from Hayden Island ) to the northeast, the Willamette River (separating it from Sauvie Island and Linnton ) to the northwest, the North Portland railroad cut (separating it from the University Park , Portsmouth , and Kenton neighborhoods) to the southeast, and the Cathedral Park neighborhood to the southwest

St Johns is named in honor of settler James John, who settled in Linton in 1843 and came to St John's to lay out the original eight block town site in 1865. He reportedly was a nice, kindly hermit, which inspired the population to address him as "Saint" John. (An alternate version of the story says that he never visited the local brothel and that's why he was called "Saint" John.) St. Johns was annexed by Portland in 1915.

The downtown area was just renovated and made really cute, and the long, drawn out, renovation of the St John's Bridge was finally finished in 2006! This has done wonders for the little town of St Johns! It used to be kind of a pain to go across the bridge- only one lane was open- there was always road work going on- and it was closed after 4 each night! Now that it is finished, it has opened up a whole new world to the people living here- it's back to where it used to be years ago. You can go across the bridge and get onto highway 30 heading toards the coast-to Astoria. Or take Cornelius Pass road up to Skyline Blvd and highway 26, and take it out to Hillsboro and beyond- completely circumventing the traffic that gets stuck in downtown Portland. Or you can take 30 towards town- and be in downtown NW Portland in 10 minutes- or on 405 heading either west or east across the river. Usually 30 is pretty open- not too much traffic to slow you down!

In it's past history, it must have been quite pretty- there are a lot of cute old bungalows and Old PDX style homes, as well as Cape Cods, Four Squares and even some Craftsman. But for many years it was run down and full of crime- it is just beginning to come up and become a popular place to live again. The little downtown area is cute- Most people who live here can either walk or ride their bikes to all the places they want to go..... the post office, coffee shops, breakfast places, restaurants, movie theaters, grocery stores, and several parks. It is one of the most affordable places to live in the city of Portland- and now with the bridge restored, it is really close to downtown NW Portland too.

More About the bridge. It is awesome! It is a steel suspension bridge that spans the Willamette River between St John's . It is a really cool looking historic bridge with two 408 foot tall gothic towers, and a 1207 center span with a total length of 2067 ft! It is the tallest bridge in Portland- with 205 navigational room underneath. When it was built, the area was served by a ferry that carried 100 vehicles per day! But it was a long hard fight to get the bridge built- it was 5 miles from the city- and the city didn't think it would be worth the time and money. Finally, one month before the Great Depression of 1929 hit- the bridge was started! It provided good jobs during the depression- and was dedicated in 1931. It was considered one of the most beautiful bridges ever built- and had the highest clearance in the nation and the longest suspension span west of Detroit . It is still a beautiful bridge. There is alot more about the history of the bridge if you go to Wikipedia.org

Going back to the neighborhood. St John's doesn't even border on the bridge or the water- Cathedral Park does! The northern portion of the St John's neighborhood is a vast industrial landscape of huge warehouses, parking lots, and cargo facilities, including the 11 km² Rivergate Industrial District- which is the Port of Portland . It's kind of sad there are no pretty parks down on the water- but it is too industrialized. I was disappointed the first time I went to St John's looking for a cool place on the river for a picnic. I did find one park- but it wasn't really on the water.


Cathedral Park

This park is believed to be one of the 14 Lewis and Clark landing sites in the Vancouver-Portland area: William Clark and eight men camped there on April 2, 1806. This spot had been a fishing and camping site for many area Indian tribes. In 1847, the founder of St. Johns , James John, settled on the site and operated a ferry to Linnton across the Willamette River . In 1931, the St. Johns Bridge was built on the site with 400-ft towers and a main span of 1,207 feet. It is the only steel suspension bridge in Portland and is designated as an official historical landmark. It includes boat dock, boat ramp, disabled access restroom, dog off-leash area, paths - paved, picnic tables, and stage - outdoor.

Forest Park is right across the bridge

In 1803, William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame) paddled far enough up the Willamette River to see Forest Park 's present location. He described this forest as having Douglas with trunks ranging from five to eight feet in diameter! There are more than 112 bird and 62 mammal species that live in and under its massive tree canopy and gorgeous undergrowth The 30-mile Wildwood Trail in Forest Park is part of the region's 40-Mile Loop system that links Forest Park to pedestrian and trail routes along the Columbia River to Gresham, through southeast Portland, along the Willamette Greenway, and back to the Marquam Trail in southwest Portland.

Smith and Bybee lakes and natural area

It's the largest wetlands area in any American City ! You can find beaver, river otter, black-tailed deer, osprey, bald eagles, and one of the largest remaining populations of Western painted turtles in Oregon . Access to the wildlife area is either by the Interlakes Trail (paved and universally accessible) or by boat. The starting point for both is the parking area on Marine Drive . The trail is less than a mile long, round trip, and has two wildlife viewing platforms. There is a portable toilet at the trailhead. Non-motorized boats are allowed.

Columbia Slough

The Columbia Slough is 32,700 acres- the largest urban wetland in the USA with 175 bird species, 26 fish species, 6 lakes, 3 ponds, 50 miles of waterway and 30 miles of levees. begins at Fairview Lake and meanders west for 19 miles to Kelley Point Park where it empties into the Willamette River . Historically, the Columbia Slough waterway was located in the floodplain for the Columbia and Willamette Rivers . Seasonally, the Slough and Columbia River would flood forming new wetlands and channels. It's a fun place to take a kayack, canoe or even a motor boat and enjoy the nature around you! Sauvies Island is part of this area.

Pier Park

87 acres aquired in 1920 i ncludes baseball field, basketball court - outdoor, disabled access picnic area, disabled access restroom, disc golf , paths - paved, paths - unpaved, picnic site - reservable, picnic tables, playground, skatepark, soccer field, softball field, tennis court - outdoor, and wading pool or water play feature. And a cool Skate Park !

St John's Park

Includes disabled access play area, paths - paved, picnic tables, playground, soccer field, softball field, and wading pool or water play feature.

St John's Raquet Center for tennis

St. John Schools:

Elementary school: James John Elementary School
Middle school : George Middle School
High school: Roosevelt High School


St John's Newspaper

St John's Demographics from 2000 Census

Click here for large interactive neighborhood map of St Johns

Click here for interactive map of St Johns

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