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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Minnehaha Avenue
Minnehaha Creek Street Crossing
Minneapolis, MN

Minnehaha Avenue

• Structure ID: NBI 4559.
• Location: River Mile 0.08.
• River Elevation: 799 Feet.
• Structure Type: Street Bridge.
• Construction: Masonry Arch.
• Length: 35 Feet, 25 Foot Longest Span.
• Width: 20 Feet Curb-To-Curb, 2 Lanes, 75 Feet Overall.
• Height Above Water: ??? Feet.
• Date Built: 1890, Rebuilt 1925.
Today, Hiawatha Avenue is the major through highway through southeast Minneapolis, while Minnehaha Avenue is a much smaller street that serves the Longfellow Neighborhood. 100 years ago, the roles were reversed. Minnehaha Avenue was the major street leading to the falls and was the route followed by the street cars, while Hiawatha Avenue was the side street that mainly served the industries that lined the Milwaukee Road tracks. That role reversal happened after passenger rail service was discontinued to the falls, and the automobile came of age in the 1920s and 1930s leading to Hiawatha Avenue becoming a state highway in 1933.

This 1890 bridge over Minnehaha Creek once carried both Minnehaha Avenue and a street car line. Today, the street car line has been replaced with a wide lawn, and a regional rail runs along the other side of the street. This bridge is unusual in several respects. First, it is very wide, 75 feet from edge to edge. Second, the two sides of the bridge look vastly different. The downstream side looks like old Minnesota sandstone, while the upstream side is concrete. The railings are also totally different side to side. Since the stone is inside the arch, I doubt that it was put there just for looks. I suspect that the answer is that this bridge was widened, perhaps when it was rebuilt in 1925, with concrete being used for the addition. It would be interesting to learn the story behind the two faces of this structure.

This bridge is listed in the National Bridge Inventory as being “basically intolerable requiring high priority of replacement.” I don't see the issue with this bridge. It looks to be intact, it isn't crumbling, and the foundations are listed as being stable. It sees relatively low traffic, most of which is very slow moving park traffic. It is a fantastic looking historic structure that would be shame to lose.

The photo above is the downstream east face of the Minnehaha Avenue bridge over the Minnehaha Creek. The photo below is the upstream west face of the bridge as seen from the Milwaukee Road Railroad Bridge. Note that the two faces of the bridge look totally different.

Minnehaha Avenue
Minnehaha Avenue
The photo above is looking east across the bridge deck. The photo below is a similar view looking west across the bridge deck. Note that the east bridge railing is an iron fence, while the west bridge railing is made out of pipe.

Minnehaha Avenue

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