At one time, Excelsior Boulevard through Saint Louis Park was known as Gasoline Alley. There were no less than 40 gas stations located in the Park. Those stations are largely gone today, and those that do survive were rebuilt after environmental laws were enacted in the 1980s. Excelsior Boulevard is also the site of one of the earlier shopping centers in the Midwest. The Miracle Mile opened in 1951 just east of highway MN-100. Excelsior Boulevard is getting a make-over once again in 2010 with bridge replacements, better traffic flow, and a streetscape that will include sidewalks on both sides of the highway. The project is being done in three large phases, with the first part completed in the mid-2000s, and the third part planned for 2015.
The Excelsior Boulevard Bridge over the Minnehaha Creek is listed as being built in 1874, and being reconstructed in 1940. The 1874 date would make it the oldest surviving bridge over the creek. The 1874 date is when the Globe Mill was built on the lot northwest of the bridge. A long earthen dam was built to create a mill pond to power the mill. Excelsior Road was routed over the top of this dam, with the 1874 era bridge crossing the outflow gate of the dam. The current bridge that we see in these 2010 photos was built in 1940. I don't know how much of the 1874 structure was used. I suspect that very little of that early structure exists. The 1940 project built a much wider causeway over the mill dam, extended the bridge wider in both directions, and built the end caps, wing walls, and railings.
The 1940 era structure is just wide enough to handle four lanes of highway traffic. There is no room for sidewalks. As a result, in 1980, a prefabricated pedestrian footbridge was installed just north of the street bridge. Both the street bridge and the footbridge will be removed in the summer of 2010 for replacement. The new bridge will also feature an arch over the creek channel, but the deck will be wider and include sidewalks on both sides of the traffic lanes.
The photo above is looking northwest across the bridge deck. Louisiana Avenue is the next stoplight to the west. The photo below is a similar view looking northwest across the bridge deck from the southeast corner of the bridge.