Bridge Square Improvement


Bridge Square is an integral park in the heart of downtown Northfield. A gathering spot for those from near and far, Bridge Square hosts many events throughout the year and has been called the living room of the city. Working off park improvement concepts created back in 2014, the city has an final design for improvements to Bridge Square.

This new design incorporates community feedback from past and current years and brings together the ideas behind the larger Riverfront Enhancement Action Plan to protect, enhance and connect with the beautiful Cannon River.

Final concept plan

The Bridge Square Final Concept plan was adopted by City Council on June 21, 2022.

Final Concept Plan

City Council Resolution


2021 draft improvement plan background information

In 2014, the city created a vision plan for Bridge Square. As part of the vision plan, four alternatives were created for Bridge Square. However, since the plan completion, no improvements have been made to Bridge Square.

In 2018, as part of the City Strategic Plan, the City created a Riverfront Enhancement Action Plan that was adopted in 2020. One of the early initiatives in the plan is related to enhancing and activating riverfront parks. Bridge Square has been identified as an early initiative.

The City reviewed the 2014 Bridge Square alternatives that were developed in the vision plan and developed a final concept that was adopted by City Council in 2022.

Draft final concepts

Council Presentation October 12, 2021

Council Presentation December 14, 2021

Stakeholder Input

2014 Bridge Square Master Planning Project overview

Bridge Square is seeing increased use and activity as Northfield’s population has grown, and demands upon its space have increased, and changed. It has been described recently as “Northfield’s Living Room.” The Square is becoming more and more the focus of downtown activity as Northfield strives to bring more foot traffic to the downtown—to get people out of their cars and onto the sidewalks, thereby enabling those pedestrians to better partake of what the downtown has to offer. The Square is seen as a very important cog in the economic activity of the downtown.

There is also traditional interest in maintaining it as a sort of downtown green space/park with grass and landscaping (shrubs and trees) for casual socializing of users, and there is a memorial/monument with a substantial piece of artwork (the fountain). It has meaning and significance to many different people and organizations, from the Defeat of Jesse James Days activities to Taste of Northfield, to Winter Walk, Farmers Market, to the Vintage Band Festival, etc. The Northfield Roundtable in its self-proclaimed “30,000 foot overview” also places great significance upon Bridge Square.

Not all of these interests and uses can be accommodated thoroughly and completely without causing some conflict with others. For example, the current layout includes grass and plantings that are damaged and trampled by activities associated with other events.

The goal of the master planning exercise is to come up with a new and better layout for the Square that would better accommodate the needs and interests of all current and as many potential growing and future uses that can be identified. To achieve this lofty goal will require facilitation of someone like Landscape Architect John Slack, who has previously demonstrated his ability to lead Northfield through this type of exercise. Given the number of groups, and the diverse interests of those already on the scene, there is no doubt going to be a need for several rounds of public discussion and input. It is the expectation of the Mayor’s Streetscape Task Force that Mr. Slack’s responsibility will be to bring that all together in a consensus document to be adopted by the City Council.

At its meeting of May 21, 2013, the City Council, at the request and recommendation of the Mayor’s Streetscape task Force, approved a consulting services contract with John Slack of Stantec, Inc., to lead the City through this Master Planning Process.

2014 documents

Vision for Bridge Square Planning Study (PDF) (7MB)

Final Appendix (PDF) (27MB)

2014 Bridge Square Council Report (PDF)

Stakeholder Input

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Historical aspects of Bridge Square

Bridge Square is a contributing property within the Northfield Commercial Historic District.

Although it has been significantly redesigned since its formal construction in the 1920s, it retains fair historic integrity and the retention of the Civil War Monument especially adds to its significance.

The square includes:

  • One contributing structure (monument)
  • One non-contributing structure (sculpture)
  • Two contributing sites (square and park)

Historic contexts

Bridge Square is associated with the two historic contexts:

  • Designed Historic Landscape, 1855-1945
  • Commerce, 1955-1945

Historic contexts provide frames of reference that establish the relative significance of cultural resources, and provide a framework for making management decision about the resources. Historic contexts group information about related types of properties, based on a common theme, a defined geographical area, and a specific and defined chronological period.

Historical nomination documents

Minnesota History / Architecture Inventory Form Northfield Commercial Historic District

United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service / National Register of Historic Places Registration Form - Northfield Commercial Historic District