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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography

The I-35W Bridge Pride Fest Light Show

A Look At The I-35W Saint Anthony
Falls Bridge Lit Up As A Rainbow For The
Twin Cities Pride Festival On June 22, 2012


I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The new I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge features an innovative LED lighting system where each LED element is individually addressable, allowing any color in the spectrum to be displayed. On most nights, the bridge is bathed in a eerie blue glow that looks like something out of a science fiction movie. However, the bridge is occassionaly lit up in other colors for special occasions.

The most colorful of any bridge light display in the recent past occurred on on June 25, 2011, the first time that the Saint Anthony Falls Bridge was lit up for the Pride Festival. I missed that event due to it being reported incorrectly in local media. It was reported as being lit up for the entire weekend, but in fact, the light show was only for a single Friday night. The rainbow light pattern was repeated again for the 2012 Pride Festival on June 22, 2012. This event wasn't widely reported in the media, but it still attracted a lot of interest. I saw a number of people visiting the bridge while I was on-site between midnight and 3:00 AM. I also visited the following night when it was back to the normal blue color, and I spoke with several people who had come down for the display, and were disappointed to learn that it was a single night event.

The 2012 Pride Festival light display was slightly different than the 2011 display. In 2011, both sides of the bridge was lit up in the rainbow pattern. In 2012, only the downstream east face of the bridge had the rainbow. The upstream side of the bridge was in blue, which is consistent with many recent light displays. MN-DOT keeps the upstream face in blue since it is visible from the nearby bridge disaster memorial garden. The rainbow featured a number of colors, including yellow, green, orange, red, blue, and violet. The lighting controller has been malfunctioning on the north end of the bridge over recent months, so one section of the display was stuck on blue, another section on white, and a few segments were dark. The bridge piers were lit up in purple, a color often associated with LGBT community.

The photo above is the downstream east face of the Saint Anthony Falls Bridge as seen from the south riverbank. The vantage point is standing near the south main bridge pier of the nearby 10th Avenue Bridge, located just downstream of the I-35W bridge.

Note—these materials are covered by copyright and may not be used without written permission.


I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking north along the downstream south face of the I-35W Bridge from about halfway up the river bluffs, putting the camera at about the same elevation as the bottom of the main span structure.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is take from my favorite vantage point to photograph the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge. The location is the top of the river bluffs on the south side of the Mississippi River, standing just below the west edge of the nearby 10th Avenue Bridge. This puts the camera about the same elevation as the traffic deck, and gives the widest angle unobstructed view of the structure that exists.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This view is from the bicycle path running along West River Parkway as it passes under the 10th Avenue Bridge. There is a gap in the trees under the bridge that gives a good view of the main bridge piers on the north side of the river, as well as the main bridge span over the Mississippi. The long section of blue light near the north main bridge piers is a lighting controller malfunction.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is a slightly different angle from the same location, showing a bit more of the south main bridge piers, but with the trees blocking part of the piers on the far side of the river.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is a view from the sidewalk running along the West River Parkway. Given that this is summertime, trees get in the way of seeing the entire structure. This view shows the south main bridge piers to their best advantage, but the north bridge piers are partially blocked.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is from slight further downstream than the photo above. It has a clear view of the north main bridge piers, but the closer south main bridge piers are blocked by trees.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is the southernmost bridge span crossing over West River Parkway. The vantage point is looking north through one of the smaller side-span arches of the nearby 10th Avenue Bridge. The south bridge abutment is located on the left side of the photo.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This view is the secondary span at the north end of the I-35W bridge as it passes over an old railroad yard on the top of the river bluffs. The north bridge abutment is located on the right side of the photo.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking straight up from just under the downstream edge of the bridge structure. The LED light panels from the bridge spans are located just under the outside edge of the structure, and the point towards the bridge. That lights up the underside of the shoulder area of the bridge deck and the side of the massive concrete beams that make up the bridge spans.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is a similar view looking up showing the edge of the concrete bridge span structure. This shows how the light illuminate both the underside lip of the bridge deck as well as the side of the concrete backbone of the structure. The white area near the bottom is the south bridge abutment.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking up towards the outside edge of the photo in such a manner that the concrete backbone of the bridge is blocking our view of the light show. All we can see is the LED elements themselves. We can see that they are strips of individual lamps, with each strip showing a different color. The strips have red, blue, and green lamps. Any color in the spectrum (other than black) can be generated by mixing these three colors.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking north along the downstream east face of the I-35W Bridge as seen from the walkway leading down to the observation deck. While the piers are lit up in purple, red from the side of the bridge is leaking down and coloring the side of the main bridge pier a burgundy violet.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This view is looking north across the river directly under the east lip of the concrete bridge structure. The vantage point is the observation deck located under the south main bridge piers. This observation deck is accessible from the sidewalk running along the West River Parkway.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking north across the Mississippi River from the road leading into the Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock & Dam. This puts us about 20 feet above the observation deck, which is shown in the foreground. The river is about 390 feet wide at this location.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking upstream and to the west from Northern Pacific Bridge #9, an old railroad bridge over the Mississippi River that has been converted into a bicycle path. This location offers spectacular views from high over the mighty Mississippi. This view is looking towards the south main bridge pier of the 10th Avenue Bridge, with the I-35W Bridge lights showing through the gaps in the spandrels of the large concrete arch bridge. This image is correctly exposed, which shows the true colors of the bridge lights.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
These two photos are slightly (above) and severely (below) overexposed to allow the background details to be visible. In the photo above, we see the boat lock from the Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock & Dam located under and just upstream from the south main bridge piers of the I-35W Bridge. The series of crescent lights just under the bridge is the Stone Arch Bridge, located a quarter mile upstream of the dam.

The photo below is a wide angle view of the 10th Avenue Bridge and I-35W Bridge with downtown Minneapolis in the background. The green area on the left is lit up by street lights along West River Parkway, while the river is reflecting the reds and blues from the I-35W Bridge.


I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

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