A view from the bridge

Minneapolis skyline viewing area closed until 2021

The now-closed 24th Street pedestrian bridge provided iconic skyline views to shutterbugs since the 1970s. Photos by Chris Juhn
The now-closed 24th Street pedestrian bridge provided iconic skyline views to shutterbugs since the 1970s. Photos by Chris Juhn

The 24th Street pedestrian bridge, known for its picturesque views of the Minneapolis skyline, closed Friday, June 15 and will reopen in three years.

The bridge, built in 1972, had become a popular destination for and locals because of its view of the city, which was iconic enough to merit the creation of its own Facebook and Yelp pages.

Its closure is part of the larger Interstate 35W Downtown to Crosstown project that includes the reconstruction of two-and-a-half miles of freeway and 11 bridges.

Dave Aeikens, a public affairs representative for the Minnesota Department of Transportation in Hennepin County, said the bridge wasn’t being torn down solely for the convenience of the broader construction project. At nearly 50 years old, it is its own project.

“Eventually we would have needed to do it, but it works best within a larger project,” said Aeikens.

Photo by Chris Juhn
Photo by Chris Juhn

The new bridge will be handicap accessible, 20 feet lower and 4 feet wider. It won’t have the chain link fence on either side that has been captured by photographers for years.

“This is an upgrade. It’ll be a brand-new bridge that everyone can access easily, and it will look attractive and be very efficient and effective for everyone,” Aeikens said.

The I-35W project will also include improvements to the 40th street pedestrian bridge.

In the meantime, pedestrians are being re-routed from 24th Street via 4th avenue to cross the highway on Franklin Street.

During the last evening the bridge was open, it was filled with people, many with cameras set up to capture their last shots and others just taking in the view or snapping a photo on their phone.

Some, like Asha Lalla and Lia Huemoeller were regulars who came to take photos every few months. They met while taking photography classes through Minneapolis Community Education a few years ago.

“Lia’s from Maple Grove. She’s hardcore,” Lalla said.

Photo by Chris Juhn
Photo by Chris Juhn

Now both women teach their own community education classes and meet up in their free time to take shots. The night of June 14 they were shooting photos through crystal balls to invert the skyline image while blowing out the background.

While the bridge is under construction, the two said they would try to photograph from other nearby bridges, like Franklin.

Other visitors had only been once or twice, but wanted to come for a final farewell. Some were on their first visit.

Anne Janotta Erickson was walking through with her family. They live in Minneapolis, but had never been to the bridge.

“We heard it was coming down, and I’ve always wanted to come and see it, so we went on an adventure,” Erickson said. “I think it’s awesome that so many people are up here doing the same thing.”

Dymanh Chhoun grew up close to the bridge and wanted to show it to his daughter, Prena, before it went away.

“This is a time you want to show your daughter, take a picture of your daughter to say, ‘Hey, you’re lucky to be on this bridge before they took it down.’ That’s what I care about,” he said.

Photo by Chris Juhn
Photo by Chris Juhn

Chhoun picked Prena up and asked if she was happy to be there. She quietly said she was, before burying her face in her dad’s shoulder.

“I told her she was going to be on top of the vehicles and she was so happy to come see that,” he said.

Chhoun said he remembers this area being a nice neighborhood that he would explore with his friends and family, and they would ride their bikes across the bridge on the way there.

“This is what (the bridge) means to me: Seeing my life and seeing how old I am. I’m old now! I’m only 31, but I feel really old,” he said. “I’ve got to come back (to the new bridge) and see. And then maybe my boy can come here and take a picture.”

In response to public concern regarding a lower bridge changing the skyline view, Aeikens said, “Photographers can still use it to get shots of downtown. It will be a different angle, but it will still be a great view.”

Though most spectators were from Minneapolis, others, like Huemoeller, had made a special trip into the city to say goodbye.

“I’m not local, but this is sort of a great moment,” said photographer Larry Risser. “It’s a view that’s not going to be available.”

Lalla said, “It’s sad to see it go but I’m really excited to see the new view so we will be back in three years to check it out.”

“I started [coming to the bridge] because I started taking photography classes through Minneapolis Community (Education) and this was the first place we went. It’s a good place to come, there’s various things to do,” said Lia Huemoeller, a photographer who regularly visited the 24th Street pedestrian bridge.
“I started [coming to the bridge] because I started taking photography classes through Minneapolis Community (Education) and this was the first place we went. It’s a good place to come, there’s various things to do,” said Lia Huemoeller, a photographer who regularly visited the 24th Street pedestrian bridge.
“The guy that runs the (Minneapolis Community Education) photography program usually brings his class up here because it’s iconic. It’s Minneapolis. You’ve got the lights. You’ve got the trails,” said Asha Lalla, noting she’s visited the 24th Street pedestrian bridge with classes several times.
“The guy that runs the (Minneapolis Community Education) photography program usually brings his class up here because it’s iconic. It’s Minneapolis. You’ve got the lights. You’ve got the trails,” said Asha Lalla, noting she’s visited the 24th Street pedestrian bridge with classes several times.
“I’ve been here on this bridge twice. I came the first time because I wanted to know where it was and after I saw it I was like, ‘This shot’s been done so many times I don’t feel like doing it.’ But then I heard it was coming down, so I figured it had to be done before it was gone because it’s a Minnesota thing and because I live here I feel obligated to do this,” said Malik Blaylark. “I’m really going to miss this bridge. I’m kind of disappointed in myself that I haven’t done this yet and that I waited this long to do it.”
“I’ve been here on this bridge twice. I came the first time because I wanted to know where it was and after I saw it I was like, ‘This shot’s been done so many times I don’t feel like doing it.’ But then I heard it was coming down, so I figured it had to be done before it was gone because it’s a Minnesota thing and because I live here I feel obligated to do this,” said Malik Blaylark. “I’m really going to miss this bridge. I’m kind of disappointed in myself that I haven’t done this yet and that I waited this long to do it.”
Drew Dornbusch visited the 24th Street pedestrian bridge with Savannah Kent, a Duluth resident who wanted to see the bridge before it closed. “It’s kind of funny, the photo thing… she’s very big into social media and was posting everything on Instagram and Snapchat, and I was just sitting here soaking it up because I haven’t done this before,” he said. “And I was like, ‘You’re documenting the experience, but you’re not really living it.’ So then she put her phone down, and now we’ve just been taking it in. This is sort of an idyllic night. It’s beautiful. We’re glad we came down.”
Drew Dornbusch visited the 24th Street pedestrian bridge with Savannah Kent, a Duluth resident who wanted to see the bridge before it closed. “It’s kind of funny, the photo thing… she’s very big into social media and was posting everything on Instagram and Snapchat, and I was just sitting here soaking it up because I haven’t done this before,” he said. “And I was like, ‘You’re documenting the experience, but you’re not really living it.’ So then she put her phone down, and now we’ve just been taking it in. This is sort of an idyllic night. It’s beautiful. We’re glad we came down.”
“Today is a special day for me. I brought my daughter. I wish I could bring my boy — he’s only two months — and my wife because this is special to me,” Dymanh Chhoun said, noting he grew up in Minneapolis and has come to the bridge since he was 7. “We used to play football [nearby] so this is a memory to me. I cannot believe this is happening, but it’s for the good of the future.”
“Today is a special day for me. I brought my daughter. I wish I could bring my boy — he’s only two months — and my wife because this is special to me,” Dymanh Chhoun said, noting he grew up in Minneapolis and has come to the bridge since he was 7. “We used to play football [nearby] so this is a memory to me. I cannot believe this is happening, but it’s for the good of the future.”

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