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The High Bridge in St. Paul


The High Bridge in St. Paul: it's the highest bridge in St. Paul. Otherwise known as the Smith Avenue High Bridge, it's one of the most dramatic Mississippi River crossings in the Twin Cities, carrying Smith Avenue, otherwise known as Minnesota State Highway 149, 160 feet above the river just west of downtown St. Paul.

The current bridge is the second span to cross the Mississippi River at this location.

The original bridge was built in 1889, under protest that the span, connecting downtown St. Paul to the small immigrant, working class neighborhoods of Westside St. Paul, was a waste of money when other bridges crossed the river nearby. After the High Bridge was built, Westside St. Paul attracted new residents and grew into a significant neighborhood, pleasing the bridge's backers, who coincidentally owned land on the west side of the Mississippi River.

In 1904, a severe storm, probably a tornado, hit the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area and caused significant damage to the High Bridge. A large section of the roadway was ripped off, and the bridge was closed for almost a year for repairs.

The bridge's height above the Mississippi River has made it a prime spot for suicides in the Twin Cities. Several people jump from the bridge annually, an almost certain way to end your life - although very rarely, people survive, such as one woman who attempted suicide by jumping from the High Bridge in 2005 and lived to tell the tale.

The original High Bridge was used for almost a century. In 1985, concerns about the structural integrity of the bridge lead to its closure, demolition, and replacement with the current span, which opened in 1987. Portions of the original bridge's railing and ironwork were salvaged, and used on the new bridge.

Today, the High Bridge is a busy river crossing, and has one of the best views from the deck of the Mississippi River as it flows through downtown St. Paul, the skyscrapers of downtown St. Paul and the Cathedral of St. Paul.

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