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Monday, April 7, 2008

Grand Avenue Bridge

I don't know your thoughts, but I think this photo rather singlehandedly points to all that was wrong with urban renewal.

The Grand Avenue Bridge was a 700 foot long suspension bridge over the railroad tracks of Mill Creek Valley. It was built in 1891.



And another, this time in profile:



This is an oh-so-flattering profile shot of today's bridge, constructed in 1961 for the Mill Creek Valley Urban Renewal that also claimed a neighborhood of some 20,000 people and innumerable and astounding examples of never-to-be-replaced St. Louis architecture.



Imagine what a dramatic entry to Midtown that bridge must have provided! All plans for redeveloping the bridge and environs for the Chouteau Lake project should consider a new, more pedestrian friendly and aesthetically pleasing bridge.

Head on over to Bridge Hunter for some more examples of bridges both present and lost. Unfortunately, in the latter category, this steel bridge on 21st Street over the Mill Creek tracks was demolished as well, this time in 1984, having been built in 1892.



The enshrinement of the automobile in public policy was the culprit for such redesigns as the Grand Avenue Bridge, which resembles a minimalist highway overpass and is also, sadly, one of the busiest stops along the Metrolink system, where pedestrians are forced to use it at their own discomfort and peril.

Who knows why the 21st Street bridge was sacrificed? Deferred maintenance? Redundancy? Whichever way, these beautiful bridges should still be here today.

In the future, it would behoove us to ask ourselves as a city if what we allow to be built in such a highly trafficked space will ever be worthy of a postcard (like the Grand Avenue Bridge). If not, why build it?

I know one major candidate that failed the postcard test miserably: the Poplar, one of the most underwhelming linkages to a major city that you'll ever find.



[Edit (4/8/08): Must have killed Bridge Hunter's bandwidth or something...the pictures aren't working. I replaced the ones I could with some suitable subs.]

3 comments:

Doug Duckworth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug Duckworth said...

The Bernard F. Dickmann Bridge is my favorite and I will not have you demean it's architectural merit!

Deborah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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