Welcome to the Willamette Light Brigade

Let me be the first to welcome you to Willamette Light Brigade (WLB) – proponents for illuminating the architecture of Portland’s unique collection of bridges. Once the forgotten site of long-ago industry, the river is now widely recognized as the centerpiece of our thriving city. At night, much of it appears as a dark divide between east and west communities, while the Morrison Bridge celebrates their inter-dependence, and the Hawthorne Bridge raises a night-time landmark for all. Our plan is to celebrate all of the Portland bridges across the Willamette, with lighting designed to celebrate the distinctive features of each structure.

Spring of 2012 marked the launch of a campaign to fund lighting of the Burnside Bridge. As the ‘equator’ of Portland addresses, Burnside has special symbolic significance, and the Burnside Bridge seems especially important as a tie between east and west. Some years ago, WLB commissioned a lighting concept from Portland artist Bill Will and then had the lighting plans engineered.  We divided the work into phases.  Happily, we have completed phase  I, floodlighting the two operator towers from the river-level dolphins (upriver side).  Their wonderful features are now on display every evening.

Next we will take advantage of new, energy-efficient equipment to show off the other remarkable features of this landmark bridge to sparkling effect, and at the same time showcase economic use of energy.

There are many ways in which you can help us to reach our goals of lighting the Burnside Bridge, and preparing lighting designs for other bridges. Multnomah County owns the bridges, so WLB donates the lighting for them and pays for power and maintenance from charitable donations and the revenues from our merchandise. Both the County and the City of Portland continue to be supportive of Willamette Light Brigade, although all of our funding is from private donors.

I invite you to explore our site, get to know your bridges and help us to celebrate them with light. As you may already know, our collection of bridges includes some unique specimens. They deserve our attention, and this community can show them off with pride to our visitors and ourselves.

Light a bridge… Inspire a city.

Paddy Tillett, Chair
Willamette Light Brigade