September 12 2013

The Many Bridges of Minneapolis, Minnesota & Their Inherent Significance

A well-known fact is one of Minneapolis, Minnesota’s birthplaces of origin, situated at the Saint Anthony Falls on the mighty Mississippi River. This historical place is also the site of the Stone Arch Bridge, built in 1883 by James J. Hill for the Great Northern Railway. This former railroad bridge, located in downtown Minneapolis, has become the epitome for the past, present, and future vision of the city.

An old and historic landmark, the Stone Arch Bridge has become the most visited tourist attraction, and now serves as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge with confounding views of the downtown skyline, the historic falls, and the Historic Main Street which once carried carriages and covered the tunnels to the flour mills. During the summer months, the Stone Arch Bridge is the focus of numerous festivals in the area of St. Anthony Main and Historic Main Street, such as the Stone Arch Festival of the Arts, fireworks displays on the Fourth of July and during the Minneapolis Aquatennial.

Hennepin Avenue Bridge

While driving or biking along the vast Mississippi River Parkway system, it becomes distinctly apparent that Minneapolis is a city of many bridges. Many of these bridges help depict stories of Minneapolis’ origin. Either with the University’s Washington Avenue Bridge or with the recent grand opening of the Lowry Avenue Bridge, a new staple of the Nordeast community of Minneapolis, or the newly constructed I-35W Bridge following its fatal collapse in 2007, new and innovative technologies are being tested such as multi-chromatic decorative lighting, used to illuminate the structure at night.

Bike accommodations

Of more inherent importance, however, is the function of these bridges. Not only do they serve as main arterials for commuters and connectors between the different banks of the city while appearing aesthetically pleasing, they also serve the multi-modal transportation of accommodating both motorized and non-motorized transportation (i.e.: LRT, BRT, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, freight, rail.) What’s even more vital to the sustainability and urban planning principles of Minneapolis is that bicycle lanes are also now becoming a standard for all new bridges.

How can bridges serve the dual function of utilitarian and aesthetic purposes while better accommodating non-motorized transportation? In addition, how can newly constructed bridges remain true to the existing character of the city?

Images by Jasna Hadzic. Data & images linked to sources.

Jasna Hadzic

Born and raised in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but having spent most of her adult life in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.; Jasna Hadzic has been greatly influenced by both cultures, most specifically in terms of architecture, planning, and design. The transition of living in a small European pedestrian-oriented city to a large and vehicle-oriented American city greatly influenced her interest in the field of planning. She came to appreciate the vibrant, culturally diverse and faster-pace of life, while also looking toward her native city as a paradigm of sustainable living with traditional architecture, multi-modal transportation systems, and pedestrian-friendly spaces and streets. A recent Master’s graduate in Community and Regional Planning and G.I.S from Iowa State University, Jasna’s Thesis focused on the analysis of the built environment and demographic factors that influence physical activity, while examining street connectivity and infrastructure. In addition, Jasna holds a B.E.D. in Environmental Design, with a minor in Urban Studies, from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Her most recent work experience as a Planning Research Assistant at the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, as well as volunteer work with the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity has exposed her to new city projects, as well as community engagement. Her career goal is to not only work directly on sustainable urban design projects, but to also ensure equitable and sustainable planning practices.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, September 12th, 2013 at 9:33 am and is filed under History/Preservation, Infrastructure, Transportation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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