The Bridge

Leave the tragedy aside for a moment; I never liked that bridge.

It was the product of a dismal age in bridge design, when the Interstate Highway system’s philosophy for bridges was “you shouldn’t know you’re on a bridge”; among all of downtown Minneapolis’ bridges, it never really fit in with its surroundings architecturally; it was like a delivery van in a parade of Dusenbergs.

But on the bridge?

One of the most piercing memories of my life was my first winter in Minneapolis, in 1985-6.  I was driving home down 35W from a friend’s place in Forest Lake one bitterly-cold evening, after midnight.  For the first time, I crossed that bridge late at night going south over the river.  The view was, literally, breathtaking; the lights of the city, looking sharper than normal in the cold, were gemlike in their brilliance; the light reflected off the water and dimly outlined the gorge below, by the Falls and the lock and dam, sparkled off the parts of the river that weren’t frozen.

Minneapolis looked beautiful.  And it was one of those moments when I first felt like I really belonged here.

The view has stuck with me; every time I welcome a friend or relative or newcomer to the Twin Cities, one of the stops on my night-time tour always involved driving south across the bridge, after dark (and thence to Saint Paul, driving into downtown from the south over either the Lafayette or the High Bridge, which is equally stunning). 

The loss of that view is the least of today’s tragedies.  But it’ll stick with me, too.

6 thoughts on “The Bridge

  1. “one of the stops on my night-time tour always involved driving south across the bridge, after dark”

    I do the same thing. I drive across the Hennepin bridge (to show off the Grain Belt sign), and then loop back down on 35W staying in the far right lane.

    Absolutely stunning view of the river, lock, falls, stone arch bridge etc, with the city in the background.

  2. Your feelings for the bridge mirror Angryclown’s for the World Trade Center. Few New Yorkers thought they were attractive buildings, but a younger Clown spent a lot of time looking at New York harbor, Wall Street, the East River bridges and downtown from the observation deck on the 107th (inside) and 110th floor (outside) of Two World Trade Center (also called “the South Tower” – though not in Angryclown’s experience until Sept. 11, 2001).

    I hope all your friends, family and SITD commenters were far from the bridge when it fell into the river.

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  4. I hope all your friends, family and SITD commenters were far from the bridge when it fell into the river.

    We were, as far as I know. Thanks. My little brother lives in a high-rise probably a mile upriver, but he was at work at the time.

    And I always loved the WTC. My mom and her mother and sister went to NY when I was six, when the towers were almost done, and raved about it; it was part of the lore of my childhood. So the first time I went to NYC (for job interviews in ’88), the towers were my first cue that I was heading toward Manhattan. And I probably spent a couple of hours on the 107th floor observation deck, on one of the clearest, most gorgeous days I remember anywhere, ever. I just pored over the whole city from up there. The whole experience – standing at the base of One WTC (North tower, IIRC) looking like a total tourist staring up at the top and for once not really giving a sh8t, chatting up this gorgeous girl from Brooklyn while waiting to get on the elevator, and of course the whole NYC-geek thing at the top.

    The last time I was there – in 12/03, after the “blizzard” that stranded me in Newark for two days – I went into the city and stood as close as I could get to where I was when I first went there, on Vesey by what was the NE corner of the North Tower. In the billions of words written about the attacks and the collapse of the towers, mine aren’t even a fart in the wind, but I missed the view. Badly.

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