I was sucked in by the first sentence of a recent Travel & Leisure article:
Stroll the 1.3-mile Hudson River Walkway in Poughkeepsie, NY—taking in the exhilarating view of water, treetops, and sky—and you could almost forget that we live in a world designed for the automobile. Here, the environment belongs not to those who roar by at 70 mph, but to pedestrians like you.
The article is called The World’s Most Spectacular Pedestrian Bridges, and features a lot of bridges in remote mountaintop locations most likely to be crossed by Indiana Jones. But there are a lot of urban bridges as well, including many of the new breed of postmodern pedestrian bridge like those designed by Calatrava (whose Puente de la Mujer in Buenos Aires made the list).
Minneapolis has some great pedestrian bridges, but I’m not sure any deserve to be called the Most Spectacular in the World. The Stone Arch Bridge has a spectacular location and a unique one, overlooking the only waterfall on the Mississippi – it coulda been a contender. The Sabo Bridge is nice, but its design is unexceptional and location more smogtacular than spectacular. The latter also applies to the Ashbery Bridge, which has an interesting if not exactly beautiful design, but is hampered by its location atop a freeway. (I’ll take this opportunity to opine that if Minneapolis ever wants to be considered a world-class city, it’s going to have to build a deck over the roadway there and connect Loring Park to the sculpture garden.) Any spectacular Minneapolis pedestrian bridges I’m forgetting?
Don’t mention those ped bridges over Washington Avenue Mall SE between Coffman and the (other) Mall. The article mentions the BP bridge, which is similar in appearance to those bridges and also similarly un-spectacular. I love Millennium Park in Chicago, and the Pritzker Pavilion is great, so if anything the BP bridge has a location advantage. But what’s so brilliant about curving a bridge and covering it with shiny material? The only purpose served is to reference nearby Frank Gehry works. The curving form actually inhibits mobility – very slightly in the case of the U bridges, but pretty significantly on the BP bridge. And again, the BP bridge’s spectacularity is smoked out by the freeway it passes over. Maybe this is just Midwestern rivalry talking, but I think including the BP bridge made an otherwise spectacular article less spectacular.