Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Paean to the Stone Arch Bridge

To kick off the week, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on some of the more beautiful aspects of the Minneapolis. I live near the Stone Arch Bridge. It is unbelievably beautiful. These days, we're all very much used to civil engineering architecture to consider beauty an afterthought. After seeing countless ugly concrete overpasses and otherwise ho-hum office highrises, I'm delighted to see a beauty such as the Stone Arch bridge. If you want to read all about its history, follow the link I've given above. I'm writing today simply to meditate on its beauty.

The Stone Arch bridge spans the Mississippi, touch downtown on its southern terminus and Father Hennepin Park on the north. Although it's not particularly wide by contemporary automobile-based standards, since motorized vehicles are banned it is effectively very wide. The central lanes are reserved for bikes, and the outer lanes are for walkers / runners. On sunny Saturday afternoons, it is flooded with people. It's amazing to see how wide a variety of people use it--unlike a lot of urban leisure amenities, its use is not restricted to middle-class families. You'll see people of all colors and ages, families, couples, singles, retirees, and so on. When it gets really hot, ice cream vendors are there too.

I should also point out that the bridge serves as a vital weekday commute route for downtown workers. There are a fair number of people living in northeast Minneapolis who work downtown, and many of them commute via the bridge.

From the center of the bridge, you have an excellent view of the St Anthony falls, not to mention much of the downtown skyline. To the east lies the University of Minnesota, to the west the 3rd Ave and Hennepin bridges. To the north is a flank of former industrial buildings (soon to be condos, of course!). It's quite breath-taking.

Coming this week:
Monday: A Paean to the Stone Arch Bridge
Tuesday: Find This Door
Wednesday: Residences for Retail
Thursday: American Apparel: A Leading Indicator?
Friday: Pedestrians Make Their Own Paths


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