On the direct borders of downtown, Minot has three relics of infrastructure that tell a story of a place and past with wildly different values. They’re decaying examples of what we used to be, what we used to value, what we used to invest in, and, probably most realistically, what we could afford to invest in. They’re also remarkable examples of unique public spaces that evoke community pride and promote walkability.
If you’re not familiar, here they are by name:
- 6th Street Bridge. It’s North Dakota’s only false arch bridge; you can learn more about it’s design and history here. What’s worth noting now is we have a truly unique place that still serves as a valuable connection point for pedestrians, cyclists, and an entire neighborhood. And it’s falling apart.
- Secret Staircase: A block south of Burdick at the nexus of 1st St SE and Ramstad Avenue, a non-descript black stair case rises up into nowhere. Or at least so it seems. What’s up there is the marriage of efficient land use to a desire path. People who walk from the hill still use it regularly because it’s perfectly placed on the way to where they want to go — to and from downtown.
- Anne Street Bridge: Built in 1908, it still spans a railroad, a river, and provided more than a 110 years of service dropping adults and kids alike quickly on their places of work, school, and play. It is an icon of the Minot landscape, but years of disinvestment and decay led to its closure in 2019. It was dealt another blow in 2021 when City Council removed it completely from it’s capital infrastructure plan. However, on a positive note, on January 3, 2022, City Council voted 4-3 to add the Anne Street Bridge back into the Capital Improvement Plan. Funding and construction remain uncertain, but progress is being made on making the case for the value the bridge brings to citizens and the community.
Walkability is why these places matter.
On the issue of walkability, we’re in the informing and seed planting stage. A shift in cultural perspective and priorities is required and that takes time. On the specific issues that are the 6th Street Bridge, the Secret Staircase, and the Anne Street Bridge, we’re at various stages of acknowledgment and support. If we choose action over apathy, each of these gateways to downtown will become a point of Minot pride.