If you’re like me, you often find yourself throwing back tallboys under a bridge somewhere. The most recent bridge, for me, was the 3rd/Central Ave Bridge, which Grazyna Auguscik transformed to a beautiful kind of Eastern Bloc Rio for the Twin Cities Polish Festival a couple weeks ago.
St Anthony Main is such a superlative public space in Minneapolis, and the butt end of the 3rd Ave Bridge creates a kind of accidental ballroom for the big public events held there. Unfortunately, it is currently an ugly, dank ballroom. The face of the bridge appears to be painted in Soviet Gray and is crumbling in a number of places. There is a giant duct, presumably used to funnel the detritus of the bridge deck, which lends an industrial feel. Then there are three mysterious caverns, which sort of adds to the industrial vibe, but only to add the sense you are likely to be suddenly and violently killed.
My guess is that a popular movement to refurbish this under-bridge space would have to run the jurisdictional maze that’s so common in our otherwise simple state. MnDOT owns the bridge, I believe, but the Park Board maintains the green space that surrounds it. After a rather infamous debacle with a bridge a few years back, I can’t imagine MnDOT would be eager for people to hang out under its bridge. But people already are hanging out under it (i.e. Polish fest) so why not spruce it up a bit?
The other problem is that the space sounds terrible. This may be less fixable, but it just means that the space shouldn’t be used for acts where the subtleties of the music are necessary for full enjoyment (Grazyna Auguscik is heavy on those subtleties). There are plenty of popular genres where all you really need to hear to have a good time is the bass drum (and a lot of people seem to ignore even that). Here’s hoping someone fixes up the 3rd Ave Bridge’s accidental ballroom for many polkas/raves to come.