Discover…or Rediscover St. Johns
(Tacos, Polaroid Pics, Sunshine and Cans of Wine in the Park)
If you are a new member of the Portland community, or just visiting for a bit and hoping to explore a neighborhood off the beaten path, please allow us to introduce you, or re-introduce you, to that little neighborhood tucked deep in the northwestern corner of Portland…St. Johns.
There are some amazing things going on in St. Johns which we will get to in good time, but let’s start with the one true and proud landmark of the neighborhood…the St. Johns Bridge. In a city of 12 bridges, it can be a little hard to stand out, but let’s face it, the St Johns Bridge takes the blue ribbon every time. It’s gorgeous, greenish and you can safely walk the whole distance.
Here’s a quick history lesson:
The bridge was built within 21 months and one million dollars under budget. At the time of its completion, the bridge had the highest clearance in the nation, the longest prefabricated steel cable rope strands, the tallest steel frame piers of reinforced concrete, the first application of aviation clearance lights to the towers, and the longest suspension span west of Detroit.
The construction of the bridge began a month before the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and provided many county residents with employment during the Great Depression. Because of its proximity to the Swan Island Municipal Airport, some government officials wanted the bridge painted yellow with black stripes. County officials waited until St. Patrick’s Day, 1931, to announce that it would be painted green.
So, you’ve made it to St. Johns. You’ve paid respects to the coolest bridge in Portland. What now? What to do this far north? Well, let us show you what a Portland native might get up to when spending a sunny late summer afternoon in St. Johns.
Blue Moon Camera
St. Johns is not a digital neighborhood…it’s purely analog. So, get with the program and tuck that iPhone away in your bag. Dig deep in your closet and find that old Polaroid or 35mm camera. Dust it off and swing by the St. Johns institution, Blue Moon Camera and Machine, for some film and free advice about making the most of your time in their neighborhood. The friendly, incredibly knowledgeable (and always well-dressed) staff will set you straight.
Taqueria Santa Cruz
Okay. You have the camera situation worked out. (You know if you don’t take a picture, it didn’t happen.) Now let’s get some grub to take down to the park. Probably the best-kept secret in St. John’s, and just 2 blocks from Blue Moon, is Santa Cruz Taqueria and Panadería. I’ll be honest, at first glance it looks like a dodgy little restaurant space in the back of a Mexican bakery. But they serve the ‘hands down, no questions asked, the best, best Mexican food in all of Portland. We recommend a few tacos, that way you can try a selection of their meats. (We highly recommend at least one chorizo taco. Best in the city!)
Once you’ve acquired all necessary provisions, head down the hill to Cathedral Park—which is directly underneath the east side of the bridge—and bask in all the overwhelming glory that is the St Johns Bridge. This is the perfect time to pull out some cans of Underwood Pinot Gris and Rosé Bubbles, unwrap those tacos and soak up the sun.
After lunch, you can make use of that film and take a few Polaroids for posterity!
Photography and Text by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)
Polaroids by Silke Schuh
Camera Love @bluemooncamera