Manhole Cover Serendipity

April 24, 2010

Manhole cover at the Vancouver Pedestrian Land Bridge


I took a picture of this manhole cover on the Vancouver Land Bridge because I thought its design was quite beautiful.  Then this week, while I was browsing through an old poetry book, The Golden Journey:  Poems for Young People complied by Louise Bogan and William Jay Smith, I came across a poem about manhole covers.  How serendipitous! 

Manhole Covers
by Karl Shapiro 

The beauty of manhole covers — what of that?
Like medals struck by a great savage khan,
Like Mayan calendar stones, unliftable, indecipherable,
Not like old electrum, chased and scored,
Mottoed and sculptured to a turn,
But notched and whelked and pocked and smashed
With the great company names:
Gentle Bethlehem, smiling United States.
This rustproof artifact of my street,
Long after roads are melted away, will lie
Sidewise in the graves of the iron-old world,
Bitten at the edges,
Strong with its cryptic American,
Its dated beauty.

Vancouver Land Bridge

April 20, 2010

The Vancouver Land Bridge is one of seven sites in Maya Lin’s Confluence Project that celebrates the 450 miles of Lewis and Clark’s explorations in the Pacific Northwest.  I admire Maya Lin’s works, including the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., so I had been wanting to see this bridge she designed, along with Johnpaul Jones, in Washington State.

The pedestrian bridge over Highway 14 in Vancouver connects a lovely paved trail along the Columbia River and the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.  We parked at the entrance to Old Apple Tree Park along the pedestrian/bike waterfront trail close to where I-5 crosses the Columbia River into Oregon.  On the bridge is artwork celebrating the history and Native people of the area.  I loved the graceful curves of the walkway, which was lined with a low wall suitable for sitting and enjoying the views.  There were also three kiosks with benches and artwork, native plants, and interpretive panels. 

 I would definitely recommend that travellers to Portland take the time to stop and stroll along this remarkable bridge.

The I-5 bridge over the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon. The Vancouver Land Bridge is very close to this spot.

The welcome gate, by artist Lillian Pitt, is two cedar canoe paddles with a glass sculpture of a Chinook woman's face.

The curving pedestrian and bike path on the Land Bridge

Cutouts and shadows on the metal panels of a kiosk

View from the Land Bridge of one of the buildings at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Native fern and shadow

Native fern

Blossom of the salmonberry, another native plant