The current Lake Street Bridge replaced the previous bridge, a wrought-iron span built in 1889. The previous bridge was the second-oldest bridge in use over the Mississippi, next to the Eads Bridge in St. Louis, Missouri (built in 1874). At the time, the Minneapolis Tribune opined that the new bridge was a "foolish extravagance," since there were already seven bridges over the river. However, the Lake Street Bridge became a major connection between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Before the construction of the freeway system, it carried U.S. Route 212 over the Mississippi River.
When construction on the new bridge started in 1989, the builders built the first half of the new bridge while keeping the old bridge in service. Unfortunately, an accident ended up delaying construction. The falsework for one of the arches collapsed, causing the arch itself to collapse and killing a construction worker. Later, when it came time to demolish the old bridge, crews tried to take it down with explosives, but the first effort didn't bring the bridge down. It took another, more powerful batch of explosives to bring the old bridge down a few weeks later.