2015-06-26 / Community

A Window on the Past

Million Dollar Bridge and Portland waterfront
By Kathryn DiPhilippo
South Portland Historical Society

The former Million Dollar Bridge in South Portland. (Courtesy photo) The former Million Dollar Bridge in South Portland. (Courtesy photo) If you’ve driven down Commercial Street in Portland lately, you’ll have seen a flurry of activity and change going on. The area west of the Casco Bay Bridge is being cleared to prepare for the expansion of the International Marine Terminal. Before you know it, trains coming into and out of the facility will become common sights and, if the state is successful, a large cold storage facility will be erected on the site.

I came across this photo in our archives the other day and thought that many readers would enjoy this image from July 1978. The photograph, donated by Bruce Kunath, shows us what used to be an everyday sight. The Million Dollar Bridge is shown in its very common “open” position with a tugboat pushing a barge through. Many of us would drive or walk across the bridge and find ourselves in the position of being late for work or other appointments because “the bridge was up.” That seems to happen just as often today, even though the new Casco Bay Bridge is remarkably higher and isn’t supposed to open as frequently.

The photo has an interesting angle, looking down the bridge railing toward Portland. It gives one a sense of being there. Cars would all be stopped and it was easy to jump out to take a look from either side of the bridge (as you can see, there was no barrier in the middle between the lanes). In the distance, you can see the Portland waterfront, which is now undergoing a lot of change. The photograph is a great example of how fast the world can change around us.

Kathryn DiPhilippo is director of South Portland Historical Society.

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