Streetscape arches go up downtown; whadya tink?

Streetscape arch Streetscape arch Streetscape crosswalk Streetscape arch Streetscape arch
The City installed the new streetscape arches yesterday at 3rd and Division St. The one in the left two photos is over the walkway to the river between the Northfield Arts Guild and the Contented Cow. The one in the right two photos is over the walkway between the Archer House and the Nutting Block building where the new crosswalk (center photo) was installed a couple weeks ago. That crosswalk now has bright green pedestrian crosswalk signs for both directions.

Click photos to enlarge, take the straw poll, and attach your comments.

Anyone can take the poll. Only lurkers and strong silent types are allowed to comment. Me? I love ’em!


9/5 update: more photos

streetscape arch streetscape arch streetscape arch Griff Wigley on streetscape arch


  1. john george said:

    Bright- My posts don’t show up right away,either, and I am using Windows XP. I have to log off the internet and log back on for them to show up. Isn’t technology wonderful?

    September 13, 2007
  2. Mine hasn’t show up for two days. I tried to reload it,
    and the message came up that it had been loaded already.
    It’s just stuck or lost. So, I’ll try to say briefly what I
    said on the lost one. Thanks, John, I guess you don’t know
    my husband is one of the top computer gurus in the country,
    so I know some IT stuff by osmosis.

    1. As an artist I appreciate constructive criticism. I don’t
    know who the artist is on the post project, and that is a shame,
    but I don’t think he or she had full control of the project.

    2. Have something else going on down by the river, like kid’s
    puppet shows, strolling minstrels, roasted almonds, some
    hot cider, a kiosk that tells what else is going on downtown.
    Make it an adventure. Look at the European cities, they all have
    something to go to see beside the river. You have to spend money
    to make money.

    3. I would have spent some of the $28,000 on collectable cards
    that would send people to the river, with a map on the back
    and maybe a sponsor ad message to help pay the cost. See my
    post # 48.

    Have a great day y’all!

    September 14, 2007
  3. Jerry Bilek said:

    From the Northfield News article cited above:

    “The arches, located just south of The Contented Cow and between Archer House and the Nutting Block, were designed by Northfielder Spencer Jones. Dundas metalworker Wade Kolbe fabricated the pieces.”

    September 14, 2007
  4. john george said:

    Bright- It’s reallly not what you know, but it’s who you know. If I didn’t have three sons-in-law in the IT industry, I know I would not be able function with this thing. I’m fine as long as everything works as it’s supposed to, but I’m really lost when it comes to trouble-shooting. I guess the osmosis didn’t work on me. Sean, is there anything in your set up that would affect this?

    As far as being like European cities, those cities were built more like 300 or 400 to 1500 years ago. Northfield is coming up on 150 yrs. I’m not sure that is a fair comparison, but that thought opens up another whole stream. Those cities were built around foot traffic, and they remain largely unchanged. The Europeans seem to be more used to changing their lifestyle to fit into their surroundings. We Americans have more of a tendency to change our surroundings to fit into our lifestyle, hence all the comments on the bicycle theme on this site. Some people would actually call this “progress”.

    September 14, 2007
  5. I see your point, John, about the foot traffic, and I will raise you a yard of space with this compromise; by the river, weekends are vehicle free with a shuttle service…and I guess we’d have to let UPS and all in. It’s funny the way we can make room for hundreds of vehicles, bridges and arches and flags and outdoor dining, but not one place for a little human talent.

    September 15, 2007
  6. john george said:

    Bright- You nailed my point exactly when you said

    It’s funny the way we can make room for hundreds of vehicles, bridges and arches and flags and outdoor dining, but not one place for a little human talent.
    Much of classic architecture and design was made for eternity. We Americans seem to have a short term approach to things we build. Just look at all the older homes, buildings, etc. that have been carted off or destroyed just to make room for more freeways and parking lots. We then turn around in 20 or 30 years and tear it all down again. We seem to have such a short term approach to developement rather than a long term. If we can’t get there in a few minutes, have to walk more than a few steps or be able to consume something immediately, we don’t want to be bothered with it. Our attention span is more easily measured in seconds rather than hours. And we drive ourselves at breakneck speeds just to have a little more leisure time to be passively entertained. I refer to us as the micro-wave society. I have a friend who told me many years ago that he didn’t realize how long a minute was until he got a micro-wave. Good design and creativity require time and patience.

    But, back to the arches, they really don’t bother me. I might have done something different, but that is really not important. I was not involved with them. Now that we have them, I’m certainly not going to second guess their conception or execution. And, I think Victor is probably correct. They were built with money that could not have been applied to some other project.

    September 15, 2007
  7. Ross Currier said:


    I heard the other day (at the Cow, no less) that the posts of the arches are designed based on the piers that supported the historic 2nd Street Bridge.

    As my wife said upon hearing this news, “Now I like them much better”.

    It’s that old Paul Hawken theory (from his 1983 book, The Next Economy) about adding information to the product to increase its value to the consumer.

    Be sure to read the “label” on the arches.


    September 16, 2007
  8. victor summa said:

    The original piers ( anchor posts? whatever? ) were (are) Cast Iron and about 6 feet tall and 300 pounds each… very heavy. There are four and until about eight years ago, as the story goes, were stored in the City’s Machine Shop, along with a lot of other old stuff, that the then City Administrator decided to sell at auction. These were, I’ve been told, originally cast at the Northfield Foundry… and were an item of some interest of one of the company’s founders at the auction… but when his attention was diverted from the action, the gavel came down… and the four posts became the property of a Faribault resident.

    Some years later these unwieldy posts were no longer wanted by their purchaser who I understand had some idea – actually his wife’s – for an ornamental addition of sorts to their backyard (none of you would have approved I’m sure) – but as fate might have it, their appeal to the Faribautonian faded too… and like the fabled artifacts of the Mummies Tomb, slipped silently back onto the market.

    I’d like to tell you of dark passage up the Cannon and a freighter, unloading late at night with shadowy figures lurking nearby… but alas… no less a personage than Bob Jacobsen, hoping to do another good deed on behalf of the City of Northfield, re acquired them and had them trucked back to Northfield in daylight… to stand quietly in a garage somewhere on the west side.

    Bob’s hope was that the veterans groups might use these artifacts of Northfield history in their design of Veterans Memorial Park… which at that time was intended for the still undeveloped Riverside Park down by the Kump Site adjacent to the Second Street Bridge – now The Crossing.

    About four years ago, the City’s employed esthetic visionary, Howard Merriam, now dismissed in an unfortunate salary realignment – which by the way was one of the recent issues: to go… or not to go… to the State Auditor -ah but that’s another thread….

    In any event, Howard and a design consultant from DSU, John Slack… engaged Spenser Jones to design access gateways to the Cannon River from Division Street as part of the Streetscape Plan.

    There was I’m sure a slight stir in design circles while these Cast Iron icons were considered for part of what appears on the sidewalks today. I suspect that height and the need for more than four of these (there’s at least a third pair intended) along with the difficult practicality of actually blending these originals into the contemporary design, dealt the death knell to the idea… but it had been planted, and in Spenser’s design – a spin off of the original posts, is obvious… if you have the background knowledge. Drinking at the Contented Cow isa source for more than rumor.

    To make this a more workable idea for public understanding, perhaps one of these originals could be sited somewhere in Bridge Square with an appropriate plaque that would attest to its source and how these were the inspiration for the defining the gateways to the river walk that indeed do grace Division Street.

    As to quality of artistic design… I only hope all of you who could not hold your remarks about what you saw or failed to see… never have to have Mr Jones judge your babies at the Rice County Fair.

    FYI these were passed on by a variety of artsy types… which it is clear none of you were involved with. And, why, pray tell do you never end a sentence with a preposition?

    September 17, 2007
  9. john george said:

    Victor- Nothing like a few good historical facts to put things in perspective. I assumed there was some significance to the designs, but having the local connections to dig them out really helps. Thanks for the research and the validation.

    September 17, 2007
  10. Christine Stanton said:

    Griff: I do not think the signage on the posts is “new.” I saw these signs weeks ago.

    Victor: Thanks for the explanation and history on the posts. It would be nice to see that history written somewhere. Displaying one of the original posts is a good idea. What about placing it at the “dead end” of the Riverwalk by the Second Street bridge? Pictures of the original bridge could be included. Maybe even a picure of our dear Bob.

    (I cannot help but wonder that if Bob were still here we might have heard the history sooner. :))

    September 18, 2007
  11. kurt Larson said:

    I have been watching the progress these last few weeks on the corner work at Mn Hwy 3 and the South Water parking lot. If you have not checked it out I would suggest doing so. The stone work on the walls is great, the bridge theme of the fencing is suttle and seems to work well.
    On the first day of the work they spaded out the only tree left after the hwy reconstruction project. I was dissappointed, but now I see they have planted several new trees. A fair trade by far. The old tree was pretty big but the new ones will be nice, unless you think size does matter.
    Also, the new walls take care of the need for a new skate board park, the kids should love it.

    October 27, 2007
  12. Griff Wigley said:

    Kurt, I just took some photos of the So. Water streetscape project this morning nd as soon as I blog about them, I’ll ask you to repost your comments there. Thx!

    October 27, 2007

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