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Portland Bureau of Transportation

We keep Portland moving

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97204

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Portland Transportation History Timeline

Please note that there is no photograph in paper form that belongs to the City of Portland. Most of the images were assembled from the Oregon Historical Society collection and went direct from the OHS image to the slide format. A private citizen is the owner of the slide images. Because rules have changed since the 1970s regarding photo credits and fees for use, it is not appropriate for him to sell or release them. Please contact the OHS for information at 503-222-1741 or orhist@ohs.org on how to acquire the images from them.    


1853 - First ferry in Portland (Stark Street)


1857 – Construction begins on a plank road (Canyon Road) connecting Portland to the Tualatin Plains.


1868 - Oregon Central Railroad breaks ground


1872 – 1884 - Railroad construction peaks.


1872 – First horse drawn trolleys


1887 – First bridge across Willamette River (Morrison).


1888 - First Steel Bridge opens


1890 - First electric streetcar goes into service


1896 - Union Station opens


1909 - Portland-Seattle railroad completed


1910 - Hawthorne Bridge opens


1912 - New Steel Bridge opens, replacing old bridge


1912 – Peak of streetcar system.


1913 - Broadway Bridge opens


1913 - First traffic signal (5th and Washington)


1917 - Interstate Bridge (across the Columbia) opens


1925 - Sellwood Bridge opens


1926 - Burnside, Ross Island and Vista bridges open


1927 - Swan Island Airport begins service


1929 - Harbor wall construction begins


1931 - Burnside widening project


1931 - St. Johns Bridge opens


1933 - Barbur Boulevard opens


1941 - Portland Columbia Airport begins service


1942 – Harbor Drive construction begins (completed after WWII).


1950 – Last streetcar goes out of service.


1958 – Interurban rail service between Oregon City and Portland suspended.


1958 - New Morrison Bridge opens


1966 - Marquam Bridge opens, completing I-5 through Portland


1969 – Tri-Met formed


1972 – The Downtown Plan was adopted


1973 – Portland’s first bike plan is developed


1973 – Fremont Bridge (I-405) opens, completing downtown freeway loop.


1974 – Harbor Drive removed to make way for Waterfront Park


1975 – The Downtown Parking and Circulation Policy was adopted


1976 – Mt. Hood Freeway withdrawn from Interstate System, funds diverted to Banfield LRT and 140 other highway and transit projects.


1977 – The downtown transit mall opened


1986 – The Eastside light rail opened


1988 – The Central City Plan was adopted


1989 –Tri-Met was named "America’s Best Large Transit Agency" by American Public Transit Association


1995 – The Central City Transportation Management Plan was adopted


1995 – Portland selected as the most bicycle friendly city in the U.S. by Bicycling Magazine


1996 – The Bicycle Master Plan was adopted & The Transportation Management Association was formed


1998 – The Westside light rail opened


2001 – Portland Streetcar and Airport MAX opened