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The Stone Arch Bridge Festival and the Inspiration of the Arch

On June 19 and 20, we will be participating in the  Stone Arch Bridge Festival in Minneapolis MN.  My curiosity about the event and the area sent me into a little history lesson on the location.  My new appreciation for a piece of Minnesota history helped inspire my new Arches Collection that I will be launching next weekend to the public, online and in person.

The History:

There is a story behind so much around us, and the Stone Arch Bridge is not remiss of its own transformation of purpose.  It was built in 1883 by James J Hills of the Great Northern Railroad, built to carry two tracks to downtown Minneapolis, MN.  In its peak of operation, it brought 80 passengers a day into Union Station.  The construction of the bridge also played an important role in the creation of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.   With its 23 arches, it is one of a kind, spanning across the Mississippi River, below St. Anthony Falls.  The 2100 foot long bridge was fashioned out of granite and limestone, which are native to the area.

As a result of the modernization of transportation, the railroad ceased to provide passenger transportation by the 1970’s.  In 1980, the railroad offered to sell the bridge to the city for a mere $1.  However, the risk seemed too great with the unknown funds it would take to maintain the bridge.  Then, in 1989 Hennepin County bought the bridge for $1,001, banking on it being a potential route for a future light rail system.  Eventually in 1993, the ownership transferred to the state of Minnesota.  With state legislatures at the time being influential in the development of city parks, they utilized a federal grant for reuse of historic transportation structures to convert the bridge to a pedestrian and bicycle path.  This new byway linked the Father Hennepin Bluff Park on the east side of the river with the West River Parkway, and is part of the Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park.

The Inspiration:

What is inspiring about this history is that it is a beautiful example of turning something old into something with a new purpose, that brings joy to a wide variety of people.  The bridge is enjoyed by local commuters on foot and bike, as well as nature enthusiasts and tourists, taking in the architecture and sites of the bridge and its beautiful backdrop of the cityscape and Mississippi River.  There is a unique beauty that the swooping arches provide, and have been an artistic draw predating the beautiful architecture of the Roman Empire.  Throughout history, arches have been a dominant design element in an array of architecture, as well as other forms of art.  People are drawn to this element, and many enthusiasts will travel the world to see examples of its strength and beauty.

The Arches Collection:

I am so excited, with the utilization of new equipment in our workshop, that I am able to incorporate this sweeping and beautiful pattern, to contrast and interact with the straight lines of my work.  It opens up a new rhythm to the visual interest in the designs that my team and I are creating, and I am loving it.  It seemed fitting to debut this new collection at the Stone Arch Bridge Festival this coming weekend, June 19 and 20.  I will have a limited offering of arch themed pieces that will go live both online and at the festival on Sat. June 19.

We would love to meet you at the festival!  This year, the festival takes place across the bridge at the West River Parkway.  The event is filled with visual artists, culinary artists, and plenty of food vendors to keep you energized.  The festival will run from 10am to 7pm on Saturday, June 19, and 10am to 5pm on Sunday, June 20.  You can find us at booth 8.  For more information, find the details at stonearchbridgefestival.com.