This is a reprint of a post originally published March 23, 2014
Minnesota is known as the state with the most paved rail-to-trail bikeways in the country. One of those bikeways, the SW LRT Trail, crosses over Valley View Road in Eden Prairie at the site of the former Graffiti Bridge made famous by Prince in his unofficial Purple Rain sequel, Graffiti Bridge. (Map below from Google maps showing trails.)
When we first moved to the Twin Cities metro area in 1987 we landed in Eden Prairie. Anxious to get involved, John joined the city’s Historical & Cultural Commission, became chair and got involved with many of the city's historic farms. One of those historic farmhouses was the Smith Douglas More House built in 1877, now the site of Dunn Brothers Coffee on Eden Prairie Road south of Highway 5… not a coffee house you would expect in a suburban setting!
When the city talked about demolishing Graffiti Bridge John thought they should at least consider noting the existence of the bridge that for so long engaged the people of the southwestern metro.The city did consider alternatives to tearing down the whole bridge, but they weren’t effective for the needs of a growing part of the metro area. In 1991 the bridge was celebrated by the community, then torn down.
Graffiti Bridge was a local and cultural landmark in Eden Prairie for multiple generations.The bridge built for the Minneapolis & Saint Louis Railway greeted motorists along Valley View Road for over 100 years, from 1871 to 1991. Before it became famous as the inspiration for Prince’s album and movie it was a local community post board of sorts.
We don't know when it started being used as a billboard, but when we arrived in Eden Prairie the paint was so thick the layers were uncountable. Because motorists had to slow down to 5-10 miles per hour on the ONE LANE ROAD going through the bridge, the walls were prominently exposed, prime for public announcements… in some ways it could have been a place for legal notices with so many views per day!
Before the bridge came down hundreds of people, many of whom would never do this “vandalism” before or after, marked significant people and events in their lives on Graffiti Bridge. We remember painting family anniversary greetings and sending a photo of it in celebration.
Nearly all the graffiti was for celebrations – birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, goodbyes, hellos. It was a cultural point of expression and interest, so much so that the layers of paint were about an inch thick!
Check out homes for sale in Eden Prairie near this historic landmark site and Eden Prairie trails… Eden Prairie homes for sale.
John & Sharlene Hensrud – Eden Prairie Realtors
The HomesMSP Team - Sharlene, John, Angela – Minneapolis-St. Paul Realtors
Photos used with permission from John Weeks