Bridging the Stream

Bridging the Stream (HMXWO)

Location: Minneapolis, MN 55401 Hennepin County
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Country: United States of America
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N 44° 59.071', W 93° 15.867'

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— Saint Anthony Falls Heritage Trail —

People have long crossed the river at about this point. This was a natural fording place, used by Native Americans and also by soldiers from Fort Snelling. The first documented ferry service was provided by a Dakota Indian woman with her canoe in the 1840s. In 1850 John H. Stevens received permission to operate a ferry for the army and later that year built the first frame house on the west side. Danger lurked, however. Row boats and rafts were always at risk of being swept over the falls by strong currents and logs which had broken loose from booms upriver.

The first bridge ever to span the Mississippi River replaced the ferry in 1855. It was a wooden suspension bridge with a roadway only 17 feet wide. Territorial Governor Willis A. Gorman hailed the new bridge as a great step in opening the West, but its real importance lay in uniting the small milling communities of St. Anthony and Minneapolis. The towns merged in 1872, and four years later the original bridge was replaced with a sturdier structure. In 1890 a double steel-arch bridge of plain design was built and carried the growing burden of streetcars and commercial traffic for a hundred years.

The present bridge on Hennepin Avenue, completed in 1990, is the fourth to cross the river at this spot. The suspension design was chosen as a salute to the first bridge. The 1990 bridge stands over the footings of the earlier bridges, which can be seen nearby, under the west end of the bridge.

Downstream is the Third (Central) Avenue Bridge, completed in 1918, which reflects a time when city planners tried to soften the harshness of industrial society with a vision of gracious, cultivated urban landscapes. The same years saw broad boulevards laid out and the Minneapolis park system taking shape. The bridge's classic concrete arches, its wide walkways and pedestrian overlooks, suggest a vision of "The City Beautiful."
Placed ByThe St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, October 27th, 2014 at 7:07am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15T E 479151 N 4981264
Decimal Degrees44.98451667, -93.26445000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 44° 59.071', W 93° 15.867'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds44° 59' 4.26" N, 93° 15' 52.02" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)612, 763, 952, 651
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 26801 W River Pkwy, Minneapolis MN 55401, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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