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Minnesota's Historic Bridges
Queen Avenue Bridge
Historic Significance

Queen Avenue Bridge

The Queen Avenue Bridge is historically significant as an extremely early example of a reinforced concrete arch bridge in Minnesota. Built in 1905, it is Minnesota's third oldest known extant reinforced concrete arch bridge with a documented construction date. The bridge survives with complete design integrity as judged against the original plans.

The Queen Avenue Bridge was planned to replace an inadequate wooden bridge that was built between 1883 and 1887. When the question of financing the new bridge arose in 1904, there was a conflict between the Minneapolis Board of Park Commissioners, who controlled the surrounding property, and the Minneapolis Street Railway Company, who controlled the tracks. The Park Board attorney determined that the railway company was responsible for conforming to the boulevard grade as set by the city and had either to build a bridge or raise its tracks. According to Park Board attorney's report in the Proceedings of the Minneapolis Board of Park Commissioners for 1904, "The proper course for the board, is to prepare plans and specifications for a suitable bridge, to notify the company to proceed at once with the construction of a bridge upon such plans and specifications." The board decided to proceed with mutually agreed upon plans, to split all costs with the railway company and that either party could initiate a suit to determine the final financial and maintenance responsibilities. A suit against the Minneapolis Street Railway Company was commenced in 1908 to recover $4,375, the amount paid by the city for the bridge. In 1910, the suit was decided in favor of the city, but was appealed by the railway company to the State Supreme Court where the decision was affirmed.

According to information on the original plans of the bridge, they were prepared in December, 1904, by Charles R. Shepley, a Minneapolis civil engineer. The bridge construction appears to have been handled by the street railway company, since park board proceedings indicate scheduled payments to the railway and not to a contractor. Work was completed in 1905 and a photograph of the Queen Avenue Bridge was featured with the Superintendent's Report in the Minneapolis Board of Park Commissioners, 23rd Annual Report of 1905 which stated that "at Lake Harriet the principal improvement was the building of a bridge over the tracks of the Street Railway Company, at the upper drive."

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