Best Bridge - 2011
Franklin Avenue Bridge
Officially called the F.W. Cappelen Memorial Bridge, designed by important Norwegian-American engineer Frederick William Cappelen, and completed in 1923, the Franklin Avenue Bridge replaced a bridge originally built in 1889, the pilings and foundation of which can still be seen to the south. The Twin Cities' expanse of the Mississippi River has a number of bridges, ranging from historic (Stone Arch) to functional (I-94) to contentious (Lowry Avenue), and the Franklin Avenue Bridge, even with its graceful, 400-foot-long steel-reinforced concrete arches (making it the longest arch of any bridge in the world when it was built), doesn't at first glance seem exceptional. But travel across it in the summer, when the trees along the banks of the Mississippi to the south are lush and green, or in the fall when it's one of the finest places in the city to gaze at the changing leaves, and you'll see why it's special. For the few moments you're crossing the river, you can forget you're in the city. A quick glance to the north, though, reveals a portrait of the downtown Minneapolis skyline and University of Minnesota campus, a reminder of your urban environs that plants your feet back firmly on the ground.