Bridges of Portland Poster


Exciting news! We have just finished producing a gorgeous and informative poster of the Bridges of Portland—including the new Tilikum Crossing and Sellwood Bridge. Check it out now at or read on for more info.

For the past couple of years, we have watched the cabled silhouette of Tilikum Crossing take form near our office. As we watched the new bridge being built and got excited about being able to cross it (by foot, by bike, by MAX...but not by car!), we gained a deeper appreciation for all the noble structures that span our beloved stretch of the Willamette. So we started doing some research on the engineering and historical context of each of the bridges. And being technical illustrators, we thought a poster would be a good format to present our findings.

Of course, we aren’t the first to make such a thing. ErrolGraphics created perhaps the most widely-known bridge poster. And there are a couple of other notable examples (one by Paul Lanquist, one by April Black). So what would distinguish our poster? We wanted to create something that would illustrate the beauty of the bridges, and also present a good amount of the fascinating information and material that our research turned up. We decided to go with a simple, vector-line style for the bridge elevations themselves (presented at scale and in order from north to south), and set them off with detail photos from the Historic American Engineering Record, an urban development timeline, transportation mode data, structural information, and a key map that shows the streets and topography surrounding the river.

It was challenging to come up with a layout that could handle all of these elements without overwhelming the bridges themselves. We went through a number of iterations, originally starting with a standard 2:3 aspect ratio, then shifted to something skinnier before tightening things up to 13”x28”. We also experimented with color schemes. Blue was an obvious choice for our water-themed subject, and we considered several palettes and color densities. Ultimately we settled on a 2-color design that quiets a dense composition and harkens back to a retro graphic style that complements the historic photos and technical content.

In realizing this design, we are grateful to several people for their assistance and input, especially Sharon and Ed Wortman (authors of The Portland Bridge Book and Big and Awesome Bridges) for editorial support. Thanks also to Clifton Burt for graphic design critique. Our sources for this project are: the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (LIDAR imagery); Stamen Design (line map); Darrell Fuhriman (line drawing basis for 6 bridges); TriMet & Multnomah County (elevations for 10, 12); NOAA Office of Coast Survey (Willamette River depths); Library of Congress Historic American Engineering Record (photos 1-9, 11; elevations); and the City of Portland (urban development facts).

Suitable for framing and printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper, the poster is now available for the special preorder price of $19 until September 30, 2014 at (Discounted from normal retail price of $29) Pre-ordered posters will ship on or before October 1!

UPDATE: The posters are printed and ready to ship! You can order them here.

Ady Leverette was a designer and a principal at Fat Pencil Studio between 2011 and 2018.