this past weekend I headed up to Minneapolis to visit and see some friends, one of whom has lived there since moving up to attend the University of Minnesota, two of whom drove in from Sioux Falls to see Iron Man 2 on an IMAX screen. excellent excuses to get out of town all around.
the unparalleled bonus of visiting friends who reside in new places is that (particularly the longer they’ve lived there) they’ve done much of the legwork in finding off-the-beaten path places to visit or things to do. my lovely Leah has gotten to know a lot of Minneapolis in the last *haruph* years and introduced me to one of her favorite places: the Stone Arch Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River at the Saint Anthony Falls, heading into downtown. the bridge, built in 1883, originally carried two sets of railroad tracks for the Great Northern Railway; it carried trains, including the Empire Builder passenger train, over the river until 1978. it’s been repaired and refurbished over the years (obviously); when the Saint Anthony Falls lock and dam was built, two of the original stone spans were replaced by a steel one, which would allow larger ships to maneuver under the bridge. repairs were again necessary in 1965, when floodwaters undermined three of the piers holding the 21 stone arches up and the bridge began to sag. restoration and re-purpose of the bridge to its current purpose began in the 1990s, and now the 28 foot wide, 2,176 foot long bridge serves as a pedestrian and bike connection between downtown and the eastern bank of the River. it also offers great views of the Saint Anthony Falls and Nicolet & Hennepin Island, as well downtown and old mills along both banks (the Mill City Museum, in the Washburn A Mill on the west, the abandoned Pillsbury A Mill on the east).
after walking out along the bridge, past a guy who was playing his guitar for change (but, it seemed, mostly for the joy of playing), Leah and I headed back to the east bank to enjoy a beer, the view, and the springtime weather. though I had to be attentive that puffy, wind-blown seeds didn’t end up in my beer, we couldn’t have asked for nicer weather. the three couples we saw getting engagement photos couldn’t complain, either. one set spent about twenty minutes in the same place, with the falls and 3rd Avenue bridge in the background. with another, you could tell that the woman was in charge of the shoot — her heels put her at just the right height to be nicely matched with him, and her fiance was decked out in loafers, khaki pants, a white dress shirt and a white suit coat. we didn’t wait around to see if they made any effort to forcibly eject the falls-bridge-background couple from the ideal photo location.