I’d love to be traveling home by train this Thanksgiving, but the Vermont to New York trains only run south in the morning. While I love to drive, the train is a great way to travel, too. How are you traveling home, if you are?
Yes, there is actually a bridge under all of that falsework. Remember what it looked like un-covered? Take note of the new roof. You can see the arch on the right, in between the blue scaffolding.
Many cities have a bike share program; Minneapolis and St. Paul have Nice Ride Minnesota. What’s the purpose?
Nice Ride bikes are designed for one job, short trips in the city by people wearing regular clothes and carrying ordinary stuff. All Nice Ride bikes are the same size, the only thing you may have to adjust is the seat, and it’s easy!
Commuting to work? A quick trip to the store? In need of a ride across the city? Grab a bicycle at one of the many, many stations throughout the Twin Cities. You can rent a bike for $6 for 24 hours or $65 for a year. What a bargain! The bikes are available November – April, 24/7.
And, Nice Ride also works well for tourists. Touring Minneapolis by bike was the perfect way to see great parts of the city. The catch? You have 30 minutes to get between stations, otherwise you pay fees on top of your 24 hour or year subscription. With all of the stations, it’s easy. And then you can immediately take out another bicycle to continue on your journey.
All you have to do is (1) find a station, (2) insert a credit card, (3) select your subscription, (4) get a code, (5) punch in the code in the bike stand, (6) remove the bike, (7) ride and repeat within 30 minutes. You do have to enter your card at each station, but if you haven’t gone over 30 minutes, you will not be charged extra. And you can rent more than one bike at once and get more than one code.
These bikes have adjustable seats for all heights and were very easy to ride around the city. The green makes them easy to spot, and they’re fun looking bikes for cruising!
Now, there were a couple of times when I didn’t think I’d made it to a bike rack. The $1.50 wouldn’t have ruined my day, but, hello, the challenge! That’s when the iphone app called Spotcycle (it’s free!) was incredibly helpful. Spotcycle identifies your location and shows you closest bicycle docks, how many bikes are at that station, gives you routes, timers, and more. It has cities all over the world. Check it out on your phone or on the website. Using the Spotcycle app as a tourist and doing my best to reach each station before the 30 minute limit made exploring quite the fun urban bicycle adventure.
Biking around a city was a great alternative to walking because you could cover more ground, and was definitely better than driving because it removes the need for parking and is slow enough to feel like you’re exploring. And with a bicycle I rode along the river. If you’re in a city with a bike share program, I’d highly recommend it, even just for cruising along a bike path.
What are the disadvantages of a bike share program? Safety, considering not everyone knows how to cycle in a city or knows the rules of the road; bike maintenance and security on the municipality; and usage. All of these are obstacles that can be overcome, by education and outreach. For cold weather climates, it’s a great way to get people to see their city in a new way. And for warm weather climates, it’s good all year long. And for everyone, it’s environmentally friendly and takes up less space than parking lots, garages or spaces.
Have you tried a bike share? What do you think?
Photos of Minneapolis by bike coming soon!
Tales from SIA 2013 continue with Friday’s tour named, “Mighty Mississippi: A Twin Cities Riverboat Cruise with the Experts.” (There are typically four tours from which to choose on the Friday.)
The tour began via bus, which would bring the group from St. Paul into Minneapolis. The tour began with the 7th Street Improvement Arches, which are 1884 masonry arch bridges constructed in the helicoidal (spiral) method. These bridges were on a former rail line, but are now the corridor is an active bike path in St. Paul.
Continuing into Minneapolis we saw the city skyline and many mills lining the Mississippi River. After seeing the (newest) Hennepin Avenue Bridge and Nicollet Island, we strolled across the Stone Arch Bridge with a NPS ranger who gave a history of the river corridor. The Mississippi River is a National River & Recreation Area, managed by the National Park Service.
Everyone boarded a riverboat in the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock & Dam. To those of us (like me) who had never been in a dam & lock before, this was very exciting!
And then once through the lock & dam, the views of the city were spectacular, especially the Stone Arch bridge.
The tour on the riverboat included many, many bridges, historic and new. While touring these bridges, our guides included bridge experts, historians and the boat operator, who offered history and significance of the bridges and surrounding resources. Here are just a few images from the day:
Among many bridges,there were other interesting sites to see along the river including the abandoned Island Station Power Plant.
And that is only some of the scenes from the tour. It was a beautiful day (the clouds only threatened us for a short while in the afternoon). The tour included lunch as well. It was a perfect day on the river. Hats off to the organizers and sponsors: the SIA, Mead & Hunt, and the Historic Bridge Foundation. If you love bridges, history and water, this was the perfect tour on the SIA. Come join us next time!
To read additional details about the tour, read a post by Amy Squitieri of Mead & Hunt on the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles blog. And if you can name some of the bridges pictures, please do. There were way too many to commit to memory in one afternoon! Here are more of Minnesota’s historic bridges.
*Note: Click on any image for a larger, clearer version.
While exploring St. Paul and Minneapolis during the SIA, parking garages seemed to be everywhere. For some reason I was struck by the variety of structures: minimal concrete to elaborate garages with building facades. Take a look.
Those above are more of your typical garage structure, though the curved ramp seemed a bit unusual. However, St. Paul has a few garages that bring it from parking structure to parking building, if you will.
And then there’s this one:
This is obviously the star parking garage in terms of welcoming people and complementing the streetscape.
Listen to this NPR story about parking garages*, which states that “of all the American structures, few are so unlovable as parking garages.” It’s from 2009, when the National Building Museum had an exhibit called “House of Cars” on the parking garage.
Just a few tidbits from the story: There’s no exact beginning or inventor of the parking garage, but it was definitely a necessary structure. Early garages did look more like buildings (like the great example from St. Paul). You’ll hear that the open parking garages are from the mid 20th century. Early parking garages used elevators, and early garages were valet parked. Some had floors just for women so they felt safe. During the Cold War, you could get federal funding if your parking garage included a bomb shelter.
Thankfully, others are intrigued by parking garages, too. Read about parking garages in Chicago, And there is a book titled The Parking Garage: Design and Evolution of a Modern Urban Form by Shannon S. McDonald. More parking + garage history from the National Building Museum.
Now, what type of parking garage do you prefer? The open level type or those disguised to look like buildings with retail and services on the ground floor?
Do you like parking garages? Some can feel dark and damp, which make most people feel unsafe. Then again, parking lots can feel unsafe, too. Parking garages take up far less land than parking lots, thereby consuming less of the streetscape, hopefully preventing that urban wasteland feel. When designed to blend with the streetscape,however large or small, parking garages seem like they could solve many of our land-use and parking problems. That assumes that people will walk a bit rather than parking in front of the store, whether a strip mall or a downtown store. What do you think?
*Even if you’re not a NPR listener, give the parking garage story a chance. It’s fascinating and only five minutes long. Enjoy!
Here’s to a new post for Sundays: a sunny scene every week through the summer (it’s almost here) because once in a while you just need a sunny smile and a good memory and a good summer adventure.
This will be sort of like Preservation Photos on Tuesdays, but not necessarily something historic (far warning: a fluffly cat or a pink flamingo could pop up in Sunday Snapshots). Though this series will begin with a scene from a historic district in Minneapolis, MN, recalling my last week’s adventures in Minnesota at the SIA.
Sunday Snapshot for Summer adventure #1: cruising around a historic city on bicycle (or foot).
Bonus points: if it’s not overtly a “historic preservation” scene, connect the dots. Most creative answer wins!
On a sunny, warm spring morning, Tuesday May 28, 2013, the Richmond Checkered House Bridge opened to traffic. This 1929 Pennsylvania truss bridge was the first ever widened truss bridge in the country – an incredible feat to maintain historic integrity and to keep this bridge in the transportation network. You can see in the photographs where the bridge has been widened by 10′; this design was chosen so the new can be distinguished from the original.
The ceremony was open to the public and well attended by State officials, those involved with bridge project (engineers, contractors, project managers, historic preservationists), and many community member. Governor Shumlin gave a short speech as well.
In true Vermont bridge opening style, antique cars were the first to drive over after the ribbon cutting. And an antique bicycle joined in the fun. Take a look at some photographs from the opening. Next time you are in Richmond, be sure to drive over our historic rehabilitated truss. It’s a beauty!
Sometimes in transportation, our bridges cannot be saved (which can only be said after a Section 4(f) evaluation). Reasons often relate to safety or structural deficiency or loss of integrity, among other items. It’s a complex law and evaluation. Large bridges like the Champlain Bridge are rare projects; often bridge projects are much smaller.
Remember the Newfane Bridge?
Recently I drove through Newfane and saw its replacement. It was a historic bridge located within a historic district. To the public this means that a bridge replacement (if determined to be the only feasible and prudent alternative) will be a context sensitive solution; i.e., compatible with its surroundings.
New bridges will not look like the old bridges due to engineering designs, traffic safety, modern vehicles, modern materials, etc. How do you, as a historic preservationist, or a community member feel about historic bridge replacement?