November 16, 2013 | Oregon Editorial Board-- The words Portland and weird in the same sentence make for tasty entertainment just about anywhere. The Miami Herald, on its Weird News blog, last week told readers about Portland Commissioner Steve Novick's proposal to name TriMet's new bridge over the Willamette River after the cartoon character Lisa Simpson. Novick wasn't quoted in the wire report, but his extended logic was previously trotted out publicly as roughly this: Hey, Lisa's an environmentalist! The conscience of the show! While Novick often strikes us an original thinker, in this instance the certified smart guy thought himself over a cliff.
Portland won't have it easy in capturing the right words and tone in naming its new light-rail bridge, connecting downtown with Southeast Portland and the Portland creep-fearing Clackamas County. We hope this changes. Bridge naming has been a snap in other places such as Redding, Calif., where the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava designed a cable-stayed pedestrian bridge whose sole tower acts as a giant sundial, hence the winsome name Sundial Bridge. You can't do much better than that, though we think Bridge of the Gods, spanning the Columbia River at Cascade Locks, evokes place, cultural history and timeless aspiration all at once while being a downright beautiful thing to say.
But in Bridge City? Except for the Steel and Broadway bridges, most of our conveyances over the Willamette River are named for dead white men, worthy but obscure to many: Sellwood, Hawthorne, Burnside, Morrison, and Fremont among them. The new TriMet bridge, by contrast, offers a chance at something READ FULL ARTICLE