As a former railway bridge built for James J. Hill's Minneapolis Union Railway Company in 1882-1883, the Stone Arch Bridge was rehabilitated as a pedestrian bridge in 1994 and served as not only a historic site but also a destination for recreation. People choose this bridge for causal walking, jogging or other sightseeing.
The bridge used to connect the industries of east bank and west bank by connecting two major former flour mills---Pillsbury "A" mill on east bank and Washburn "A" Mill on west bank. The lime stones that were used to build the bridge provided significant texture on the bridge surface which gives a sense of rough industrial. Today, the Pillsbury was repurposed to be a multi-function building combined with residential and commercial, and the Washburn was reconstructed as historic museum after the fire. The industry of the riverfront became the past, new buildings were constructed on the purpose of taking the City of Minneapolis back to the riverfront, shaping the west riverfront to be a cultural district. For example, the founding of the new Guthrie Theater is a figure that takes the city back to the riverfront. The newly built theater is much larger in scale, encouraging more visitors. Featured spots such as the Endless Bridge, provides great view of the Stone Arch Bridge, the St Anthony Falls and the east bank industries; The Yellow Room, has its visitors to look at the Downtown Minneapolis and west bank industries in artistic "yellow eyes". Building on the former industrial site, the Mill Ruins Park is another case to exemplify the cultural makeover and preservation of the west bank.
Mill CIty Museum
The Mill CIty museum was built on the ruin of the old mill after a huge fire, today it is a historical site for industry past.
The story on the east bank is the story of natural preservation. The green space under the bridge is the wild nature of the riverfront. Wood staircases lead down to the river and land is relatively remote. Trees grow wildly so it is very hard to see anything from the top. There are no fences and any other structure between the bank and the river under the bridge so it is somewhere visitors can "touch" the river, which means this area is the truly wild nature. However, the view is somehow unique. Seeing from east to west, what's visible is not only the river, the bridge, but also the skyscraper of downtown Minneapolis.
Stone Arch Bridge needs to be repurposed, either rebuild or redefine. Owning to strong neo classic style and the rough yet natural surface of the bridge, it was redefined to be a pedestrian recreational bridge. It is believed that the bridge itself matches the profile of the riverfront area---industrial history, riverfront location and preserved wild nature.
So here's a trip of the area. Students from the University of Minnesota or residents from the community near the Pillsbury take their way to the Stone Arch Bridge. They will either go down to the river under the bridge or go on to the bridge across the river. Down by the river, they experience the wild nature and the view of downtown Minneapolis. On the bridge, they experience the river flow underneath and picturesque landscape on both sides. As they wake or jog, they encounter other pedestrians or biker. They will see the preserved natural on their right side; they will see the St Anthony Falls on their right too. As they getting closer to west bank, they will see the mill ruins park under the bridge on their left. The park is a preview for the industrial content of west bank riverfront. The skyline of downtown Minneapolis is on the face of the vanished point so people know where to go. The Ruins of Mill City stands by the river with its collapsed free-standing wall, drawing attention of the visitors'. The modernized ultramarine Guthrie Theater is located by the mill, attracting visitors as well. When people reach the west bank, they will either go down to the ruin park because they saw it on the bridge and want to know what's more down their; or they will try to figure out what happens to the mill city, why it looks like collapsed but still standing. Then, they might head to the Endless Bridge in Guthrie to see what where did they come, what they passed. The journey is not over yet, downtown will be seen through a "yellow eye" via the Yellow Room, and there's always more to explore.
The preservation for both history and nature along the riverside around the Stone Arch Bridge is a great example of designed environment. It gives the new birth of the industrial past in a manner of environmental friendly. Wild nature is not missing around the Metropolitan but preserved as another option of enjoyment.
The story of love under the bridge
Next time, as my last entry, I would like to end it with art in the CIty of Minneapolis