Hastings’ iconic spiral bridge, which for decades embodied the spirit of the historic river town, has been scrubbed from its logo as part of a major rebranding exercise to attract tourists and new businesses to the area.

Replacing it will be an image of the gleaming dome of City Hall — a former courthouse — with the Mississippi River in the foreground and the new Hwy. 61 bridge in the background. The emblem has black and burnt-orange lettering reading, “Since 1857 Hastings Minnesota.”

The City Council voted last month to replace the image of the spiral bridge, which was dismantled in 1951 and ignominiously hauled away, as officials were looking for an image that would “translate in social media as it’s an avenue that we’ve been looking at,” said Lee Stoffel, the city’s communications coordinator.

“It’s hard for people that weren’t from Hastings to understand what that was,” Stoffel said of the old bridge.

The move is part of a larger campaign to rebrand Hastings as a destination for business and visitors. The city recently announced a partnership with the cities of Prescott, Wis., Afton and River Falls, Wis. to promote eco-tourism in the so-called confluence region. Also, Hastings officials are increasingly looking at redeveloping swaths of downtown, which has shown signs of life of late after being battered by the recession.

Nowhere is this more obvious than the historic H.D. Hudson Building, an abandoned former hand-sprayer manufacturing plant which local officials envision turning into a visitors center or artists’ lofts. The building sits in the shadow of the new span, said to be the longest free-standing, above-deck arch bridge in North America.

Part of the reason for the change was functional, said the city’s administrator, Melanie Lee.

“While it’s very striking when it’s bigger, it loses a lot of detail when you use it in smaller formats, such as business cards and websites. So from a technical perspective we were having some challenges,” Lee said.

“We began to ask the question of what image would best capture Hastings now and going forward. We are not abandoning our past, but the time seemed right to start asking those questions.”

The city spent $1,150 on the new logo, which will start appearing on business cards, stationery, social media accounts and other city property over the next six months, officials said.

Stoffel said city officials were looking to create an image that conveyed “not only are we an historic river town, but we’re also progressive and we’re looking toward the future.”