Sawmilling was the number one industry in Minnesota in 1867 when Minneapolis was incorporated as a city but John Pillsbury, who had settled in St. Anthony’s Falls in 1853, believed the new reaper invented by Cyrus McCormick would make flour milling the new big business. Pillsbury persuaded his nephew Charles Alfred Pillsbury to bring his new bride to join him in milling flour. Their first venture was a broken-down 250-barrel Minneapolis flour mill that the Minneapolis business community considered a risky investment, at best. After all, in the heart of “America’s Bread Basket,” Minnesota was actually importing flour at the time. Minnesota wheat was hard, brittle and produced inferior flour. It cost more to make and sold for less than other Midwest flours. Not a winning combination.
The Dartmouth-educated Charles Pillsbury, however, saw potential in the unpopular grain. He believed he could actually make superior flour from the gluten-rich kernels. He installed a new purifier that blew the bran out of the wheat kernel and made a $6000 profit in his first year. Charles took the profits and started a new firm, C.A. Pillsbury & Co., in 1872 and by 1880 he was operating the largest flour mill on earth. Minneapolis was about to become the flour capital of the world.
For the next 50 years Minneapolis boomed, building up and out to handle the needs of a population that grew from 13,000 to more than 450,000 in those years. But the city was just as eager to tear down as it had been to build up. An eager participant in urban renewal, the city demolished some 200 buildings in the 1950s and 1960s, clearing away about half of downtown.
Our walking tour of downtown Minneapolis will sift among the newish towers and find the landmarks still standing. Along the way we will see more statues dedicated to made up fictional characters than those honoring real people and we will start with characters from America’s most popular comic strip...
Peanuts on Parade
400 Block of Portland Avenue
Charles Monroe Schulz was born in Minneapolis in 1922 as the only child of Dena and Carl Schulz, a barber in St. Paul, which is where he grew up. After service in World War II Schulz returned to the Twin Cities and landed a job at the Art Instruction Schools in Minneapolis where he had once taken a correspondence cartoon course. In June of 1947 the Minneapolis Tribune published two comics by Schulz, titled Sparky’s Li’l Folks. The lead character of Charlie Brown was named for a co-worker at the Art Instruction Schools. Two weeks later Li’l Folks was picked up as a panel comic by the St. Paul Pioneer Press. More than 52 years and an estimated billion dollars later, Schulz published the final Peanuts strip on January 3, 2000. A few weeks later he died of colon cancer at the age of 77. In 2000 the City of St. Paul produced a tribute to its hometown cartoonist by producing fiberglass statues to be placed around town. That year was Snoopy and subsequent years featured Charlie Brown, Lucy and others. Most of the Peanuts on Parade figures were auctioned for charity after their display but some can still be seen. These, sponsored by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, were designed by artist Max Haynes. Charlie Brown is painted to look as if he were created from large mosaic tiles.
OPPOSITE CHARLIE BROWN AND LUCY IS...
425 Portland Avenue
Today’s Star-Tribune represents the evolution of three newspapers, the oldest being the Minneapolis Tribune whose first editions appeared in 1867. One newspaper was plenty for a town of less than 7,000 without even a public water supply. In 1878 the Minneapolis Journal was founded as an evening paper and Minneapolis became a three-paper town in 1920 when the Minnesota Daily Star began publication. The Great Depression crippled the newspaper business in Minneapolis leading to a series of mergers started in 1935 when the Cowles family of Iowa purchased the Minneapolis Star. Gardner Cowles, who made his money with a string of banks on the Iowa frontier, got into the newspaper business in 1903 when he bought The Des Moines Register and Leader that was $180,000 in debt with a circulation of only 14,000. In 1941 the Cowles family took command of all the major papers in Minneapolis with the purchase of the Minneapolis Tribune. The Cowles papers in Minneapolis and Des Moines were known for their profitability and integrity; by 1985, the year the Register was sold, it had garnered 13 Pulitzer Prizes – second only to the New York Times. The family would retain ownership of the Star-Tribune until 1998. This sleek Art Deco building came on board for the paper in 1941.
FACING THE STAR-TRIBUNE, TURN LEFT ON PORTLAND AVENUE. TURN RIGHT ON 4TH STREET. AHEAD OF YOU IS...
900 South 5th Street
The Metrodome was constructed in 1982, primarily to bring the Minnesota Vikings inside from the cold. It is not a true multipurpose stadium. Rather, it was built as a football stadium that could be reconfigured for other purposes and the Metrodome is the only venue to host a major league baseball All-Star Game, a World Series, a Super Bowl, and an NCAA Final Four. The stadium has a fiberglass fabric roof that is self-supported by air-pressure, the second major sports facility to have this feature. Four times the roof has actually deflated, most recently after a 17-inch snowstorm in 2010.
TURN LEFT ON PARK AVENUE. AT 3RD STREET, ON YOUR RIGHT IS...
Advance Thresher/Emerson-Newton Company
700-08 3rd Street South
This is actually two buildings in one - the first half was constructed in 1900 for the Advance Thresher Company and the design by Frederick Kees and Serenus Colburn was replicated four years later for the Emerson-Newton Plow Company. If you look up and count the floors you can tell the difference between the twins; there is an additional story squeezed into the Emerson-Newton Building. The orange brick industrial buildings reflect the Chicago style of architecture that emphasizes functionality although terra cotta flourishes are still visible on the facade.
Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company Building
616 3rd Street South
Architects Frederick Kees and Serenus Colburn were busy in Minneapolis the first decades of the 20th century designing theaters, residences and office buildings. When the firm received an industrial commission they usually tapped the principles of the Chicago style pioneered for large-scale buildings by Louis Sullivan that emphasized function over the ornamentation of the recently passed Victorian Age. These arches at the top of the seven-story brick building are a nod to Sullivan’s use of the Romanesque style. The building, completed in 1910 for the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, enters its second century as loft apartments.
TURN RIGHT ON PORTLAND AVENUE. TURN LEFT ON WASHINGTON AVENUE.
Milwaukee Road Depot and Freight House
300 Washington Avenue South
This is the oldest surviving railroad building in Minneapolis, standing as a remnant of the time when the town emerged as a major flour milling center. The city’s first major freight depot was built between 1897 and 1899 and served as the western terminal for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Company. Architect Charles Frost gave his classically flavored three-story building a monumental feel, decorated with terra cotta wreaths. Extending from the depot is a steel-truss train shed that stretched for nearly an eighth of a mile. The last train pulled out of the Milwaukee Road Depot in 1971 but, unlike many of its 19th century railroading cousins, the station dodge the wrecking ball and has been redeveloped for commercial purposes.
212 3rd Avenue South at Washington Avenue
The first federal building in Minneapolis, a four-story Romanesque masonry structure, was raised in 1889 but the town was growing so fast that plans for a new facility were under way by 1907. This Neoclassical, block-filling structure was opened with a flag-raising ceremony in 1915. The facade of the building is marked by twinned Corinthian pilasters that create 13 bays. The post office moved again in 1935 and the building was reconfigured to accommodate the Internal Revenue Service. In the 1960s and early 1970s, their presence resulted in renewed public awareness of the building, as it became the focus of local anti-war demonstrations against the I.R.S., the armed forces, and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, a Minnesota native. In August of 1970, an explosion caused extensive damage to the building in the vicinity of the Second Street entrance.
TURN LEFT ON 3RD AVENUE. TURN LEFT ON 3RD STREET. TURN RIGHT ON 4TH AVENUE.
Flour Exchange Building
310 4th Avenue South
Today this heritage skyscraper appears as a unified whole but only four stories were finished in 1893 when a nationwide financial panic shut down construction. The remaining seven stories would not be completed until 1909. By that time the Chicago style of high-rise construction had been firmly established and this building from Frederick Kees and Frank B. Long stands as an exemplary example with spare ornamentation, large plate glass windows set into a grid, and clean, modern lines.
Grain Exchange Building
400-412 4th Street South
Founded as the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce in 1881, the Minneapolis Grain Exchange was formed as a regional cash marketplace to promote fair trade and to prevent trade abuses in wheat, oats and corn. Since its inception it has served as the principal market for Hard Red Spring Wheat, one of nature’s highest protein wheats found in bagels, cereals and high-quality breads. This building dates to 1902 and was one of the town’s first steel-frame structures. The Chicago-style ten-story structure is U-shaped to help bring more light into the building and sheathed in granite with terra cotta detailing in the orderly, recessed windows. Additions to the complex made necessary by Minneapolis’ dominance of the world wheat market came along in 1909 and 1928.
Minneapolis City Hall
350 4th Street South
As Minneapolis began growing by leaps and bounds in the 1880s the city and Hennepin County got together to finance a joint municipal headquarters. Minneapolis architects Frank B. Long and Frederick Kees won a design competition with plans for a block-filling building based on the work of Henry Hobson Richardson, the most influential architect in America in the last half of the 19th century, that emphasizes broad, powerful arches, rusticated stone, a central tower and corner turrets. Ground was broken in 1889 and occupancy did not take place until 1895, although construction continued well into the new century. The building is constructed of pink Ortonville granite, with many stones weighing over 20 tons. The granite was only supposed to create a rusticated base with bricks used above but as the foundation was finished it was decided to face the entire building in granite - helping bring the price tag for City Hall up over $3,500,000 - more than a million dollars over budget. The clock tower soars over 345 feet high and remained the tallest building in Minneapolis until 1929; when the clock was installed in 1916 it was trumpeted by civic boosters as the largest public timepiece in the world. The original terra cotta roof was replaced in the 1950s with 180,000 pounds of copper that has since weathered into its signature green color.
TURN RIGHT ON 4TH STREET.
Old Republic Title Building
400 2nd Avenue South at southwest corner of 4th Street
Samuel N. Crowen was a Chicago architect known early in his career for his classically detailed designs but was an early proponent of the stripped-down classicism of the Art Deco style in 1929 when he created this building. Old Republic Title was founded in 1907 as one of America’s first title insurance companies.
Farmers and Mechanics Savings Bank of Minneapolis
115 4th Street South
The Farmers and Mechanics Savings Bank was chartered in 1874 as a safe place for “mariners, tradesmen, clerks, mechanics, laborers, miners, and servants” to deposit their meager earnings and build up habits of thrift. By the start of the 1890s the bank was ready to proclaim its success with this impressive Greek temple contributed by go-to Minneapolis architects Frank B. Long and Frederick Kees. The exterior is faced with white limestone, with five piers of rusticated stone supporting fluted Corinthian pilasters. The building carries on today as a strip club, where small deposits continue to be made.
TURN LEFT ON MARQUETTE AVENUE.
Soo Line Building
105 5th Street South at southeastern corner of Marquette Avenue
Architect Robert Gibson returned to the notion of creating skyscrapers in the image of a classical Greek tower for this segmented office building in 1914. The 19-story tower, the tallest office building in the city when constructed, features a defined, oversized ground level (the base), unadorned central floors (the shaft), and an elaborate cornice and upper floors (the capital). The U-shaped composition was originally unified by an arched colonnade that has since been altered and modernized. The building was developed in tandem by the First National Bank and the Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Sault Ste. Marie Railway, known familiarly as the Soo Line. The former headquarters still brandishes a Soo Line clock at the corner of Marquette Avenue and Fifth Street South.
TURN RIGHT ON 5TH STREET.
512 Nicollet Mall at northwest corner of 5th Street
This commercial block from 1898 with imaginative brickwork is a rare 19th century retail survivor in Minneapolis. It did not make it through the 20th century unscathed, however. Its original wide cornice was stripped and rounded upper floor windows squared off in the mid-1900s. Most noticeably the street-level storefronts were covered up with an arched arcade supported by plump, fluted columns - inspired by the faux classical facade the Andrus Building is now known as the Renaissance Center.
Hennepin Avenue at northeast corner of 5th Street
Frank Long and Frederick Kees were the most visible architects in the go-go days of 1880s Minneapolis, often interpreting the brawny Romanesque style of Boston designer Henry Hobson Richardson. In this well-preserved Masonic Temple from 1888 the trademark rough-faced stone, rounded corners and powerful arched entrances of the style are still evident.
TURN LEFT ON HENNEPIN AVNEUE, THE TOWN’S ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT. THE TWIN CITIES ARE AMERICA’S THIRD LARGEST THEATER MARKET AFTER ONLY NEW YORK CITY AND CHCIAGO.
536 Hennepin Avenue
The Shubert was constructed in 1910 as a vaudeville stage and later became a burlesque theater and a movie palace. If they were here a century later Mae West and the Marx Brothers and the other stars that graced the Shubert stage might have trouble finding it. In 1999 the then-vacant Beaux Arts theater composed of glazed terra cotta on a granite base, was lifted onto 70 dollies by 100 hydraulic jacks and moved one block from 7th Street. It took five bulldozers and 12 days to complete the quarter-mile trek. At the time, the 2,908-ton theater was the largest building ever moved.
515-533 Hennepin Avenue at northeast corner of 6th Street
This beefy high-rise was constructed in 1910 on a foundation of 13,000 cubic yards of limestone carted in by the Minnesota Crushed Stone Company. Although sited on a prominent corner and looking for all the world like a grand department store of the age, the Plymouth was an office tower. Original plans called for a Gothic-flavored building but it wound up as a Beaux Arts brick pile framed in a white terra cotta wrap. All the ornament and the festive cornice were removed in 1936 and replaced with brick - you can look up and see the unwelcome transformation.
Hennepin Avenue at northwest corner of 6th Street
Frederick Kees, via Maryland, and Frank B. Long, from New York by way of Chicago, each came to Minneapolis in their twenties to participate in the building boom; Kees as a draftsman and Long as a carpenter. In 1885 the two opened an architectural practice and over the next dozen years were responsible for most of the important buildings in town. This was one of their first projects and is considered the first skyscraper built in Minneapolis. The building was raised in progressive stages with the original tall, thin structure picking up a wing in 1890. Two stories up top came along later in an unsympathetic addition that can still be seen today.
TURN RIGHT ON 6TH STREET.
14 6th Street North
Gottleib Gluek arrived in Minneapolis from his native Germany in 1855 and by 1857 he was brewing beer in caves on the north end of Nicollet Island. Gradually Gluek’s Beer, Glix Beer, Gluek’s Stite, and Pioneer Beer found favor and the Gluek Brewing Company moved into a new brewery in 1891. The Gluek Building, designed by Christopher Boehme and Victor Cordella, was opened as a restaurant/bar in 1902. The Beaux Arts-style facade packs a wealth of terra cotta ornament in a narrow mid-block lot. Like nearly all its brewing cousins Gluek’s did not survive Prohibition but others came along to serve beer here. A 1979 renovation of the interior and exterior restored the building to its original design but in 1989 a tragic fire gutted the century-old building, leaving only a charred brick shell. Once again a painstaking rehabilitation returned one of Minneapolis’ most distinctive stone fronts to its original form.
600 First Avenue North
After playing in the Metrodome during its inaugural season in 1989, the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves built this arena in 1990. Target Center can convert into a 2,500-to-7,500-seat theater with a moveable floor-to-ceiling curtain system that allows the venue to be transformed based on specific show needs. In 2010 Target Field, a new park for the Minnesota Twins was constructed next door.
AFTER EXPLORING MINNESOTA’S PROFESSIONAL PLAYGROUNDS RETRACE YOUR STEPS TO HENNEPIN AVENUE AND TURN RIGHT.
708 Hennepin Avenue
Born on the Greek island of Andros, Alexander Pantages spent his twenties digging the Panama Canal, boxing in San Francisco and prospecting for gold in the Yukon Territory. He began his career as a show business exhibitor in Dawson City, Yukon as a partner to saloon and brothel-keeper “Klondike Kate” Rockwell, operating a small, but highly successful vaudeville and burlesque theatre, the Orpheum. In 1902, at the age of 27, he was in Seattle opening the Crystal Theater and launching a chain of theaters across the West in Canada and the United States. His go-to architect was B. Marcus Priteca, a Scot, who designed 22 theaters for Pantages and another 128 for other theater owners. Here, in the heart of Minneapolis’ theater district, the Pantages was designed as a 12-story classical complex but scaled down to a two-story operation by Priteca. The Pantages followed a familiar arc after opening as a vaudeville stage in 1916: conversion to movie theater, loss of business to television and suburban malls in the 1970s and closure and vacancy in the 1980s. The Pantages was one of the lucky ones - it dodged the wrecking ball and was completely renovated in 2002.
The Pence Building
800 Hennepin Avenue at southwest corner of 8th Street
Harry E. Pence was raised on a prosperous family farm in Warren County, Ohio and came to Minneapolis at the age of 18 at the invitation of his uncle, John Wesley Pence, a railroad and mining magnate. About that time John Wesley’s health began to flag and he decided a world tour would provide the cure. He and Harry took off for five years of travel in Europe and the Orient. Upon his return, Harry purchased a mini-fleet of steamboats and began a freight and passenger service on the Mississippi River. In 1902 Pence went to a race with new-fangled automobiles between Minneapolis and Lake Minneapolis. Even though he had never owned a car, Pence decided to start selling horseless carriages. Of the scores of young automakers on the scene in 1903, Pence cast his lot with Cadillac and sold 83 motorcars. A good start, but Pence knew he wanted a car with more juice. Cadillac refused to build that car so Pence switched to selling Buicks when they agreed to make a larger engine. In short order Pence was selling every third car Buick was manufacturing. This Chicago-style building was constructed in 1909 to house car showrooms, offices, a repair garage and storage for parts and finished vehicles.
805 Hennepin Avenue
When the State Theater opened in 1921 it boasted the largest screen west of the Mississippi River. Chicago architect J.E.O. Pridmore gave the State a scrumptious Italian Renaissance setting for 2,400 polychrome seats. Patrons could enjoy the first well-driven air conditioning system in Minneapolis. A Wurlitzer pipe organ was installed in 1925 and concerts were held every day for 25 cents. The State ran until New Year’s Eve 1975 when the presentation of Tommy brought the final curtain down. Two years of work and $8.8 million breathed life back into the State which now hosts off-Broadway productions, films and concerts.
910 Hennepin Avenue
This is the fourth, and largest, of the restored theaters on Hennepin Avenue. It opened as the Hennepin Theater on October 16, 1921 with the Beaux Arts palace capable of seating 2,741 patrons under a coffered ceiling with a recessed dome. Among the performers on the first playbill were the Marx Brothers; over 70,000 guests attended the opening week run. The Hennepin cost $1 million to build and the best seats in the house could be had for 47 cents; children paid nine cents. In the 1980s the Orpheum was owned by Minnesota natives Bob Dylan and his brother for four years.
IF YOU HAVE CROSSED 9TH STREET TO LOOK AT THE ORPHEUM, RETURN TO 9TH STREET AND TURN RIGHT. IF YOU HAVE LOOKED AT THE ORPHEUM FROM THE INTERSECTION, TURN LEFT ON 9TH STREET.
Y.M.C.A. Central Building
36 9th Street South at northwest corner of LaSalle Avenue
The Young Men’s Christian Association was founded by George Williams in London, England in 1844 and came to America in Boston in 1851. The YMCA in Minneapolis traces its beginnings to 1856, before Minnesota became a state. This 12-story Gothic Revival home for the YMCA came on board in 1919 from the pens of Louis L. Long and Lowell Lamoreaux. The elaborate Gothic detailing was chosen to reinforce the association’s connection to the Christian church.
901 Nicollet Mall at southeast corner of 9th Street
Elizabeth Quinlan began her journey to Fortune Magazine’s 1930s list of the top businesswomen in America selling clothes from a downtown Minneapolis shop in 1881. By 1894 she was in business with Fred Young peddling the first women’s ready-to-wear clothing west of the Mississippi River. After Young died in 1911, Quinlan continued to helm the company until 1945 with an unmatched blend of elegance and shrewd managerial technique. In 1926 she oversaw the construction of this Renaissance Revival emporium - if you walk around this graceful composition you will see the identical facade on all four elevations.
Medical Arts Building
825 Nicollet Mall at northeast corner of 9th Street
This building was constructed in stages in the 1920s and the final product is the tallest Gothic building in Minneapolis and also the tallest to be clad entirely in terra cotta.
TURN LEFT ON NICOLLET MALL.
801 Nicollet Mall at southeast corner of 8th Street
This 20-story office tower was constructed in 1969 for Midwest Federal Savings & Loan which took its first deposits back in 1890. Exterior shots during the Mary Tyler Moore Show established this building as the fictional home of WJM-TV where Mary worked with Murray, Lou, Ted, Sue Ann, and Chuckles the Clown. Midwest was part of the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and the St. Paul Pioneer Press called the bank’s collapse the “largest financial disaster in Minnesota history.” You can look up and still see its Green Tree logo.
80 8th Street at northeast corner of Nicollet Mall
This has been Minnesota’s tallest building since opening in 1973 but more importantly to classic television fans, the stretch of Nicollet Mall in front of the IDS Center is where the character of Mary Richards tossed her hat into the air at the end of the opening credits of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. A statue of Mary stands across the street at the southwest corner of 7th Street and Nicollet Mall. Influential American architect Philip Johnson, known for his innovative use of glass, designed the 792-foot structure. Johnson gave the tower a unique set of stepbacks he called “zogs” that gave each floor 32 corner offices. The lobby area is known as the Crystal Court and provides skyway connections between the tower and the rest of downtown.
TURN RIGHT ON 8TH STREET. TURN RIGHT ON MARQUETTE STREET.
821-37 Marquette Avenue
Wilbur B. Foshay made one of Minnesota’s great fortunes in gas and electric utilities. After a trip to Washington, D.C. to see the monument dedicated to his boyhood hero, George Washington, he commissioned the only known skyscraper to be modeled after the 555-foot Egyptian obelisk. At 447 feet the Foshay Tower was the first building in town to rise above City Hall and not all were pleased with it, many of the same people who saw Foshay as a huckster and blocked his way into Minneapolis society circles. If critics decried the tower for being out-of-scale in the city streetscape one can imagine the reaction to the ten-foot tall letters spelling out “Foshay” that were plastered on all four sides of the skyscraper. Foshay sunk $3.75 million into the tower, including $116,000 for a three-day ceremonial opening in 1929. But just as the ribbons were being cut the stock market was crashing - and with it went Foshay’s fortune. Not only did he never get to live in the two-story penthouse apartment he planned for himself but within a few years he was living in Leavenworth Penitentiary, convicted of fraud. His sentence would be commuted by Franklin Roosevelt and in 1947 he was pardoned by President Harry Truman. Foshay lived out the remainder of his life in obscurity in Minnesota until his death in 1957; his audacious tower would remain the tallest building in Minneapolis until the early 1970s. Back in his salad days, Wilbur Foshay hired composer John Philip Sousa to write a special “Foshay Tower March” for the opening ceremonies of his skyscraper. The composition was played once but when the $20,000 payment check to the 75-year old March King bounced, Sousa forbade it to be played as long as the debt remained unpaid. It would be seventy years before a group of Minneapolis citizens paid the debt to the Sousa estate, allowing the march to be played once again.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS TO MARQUETTE STREET AND TURN RIGHT. TURN LEFT ON 2ND AVENUE.
729 2nd Avenue South at 8th Street
The Minneapolis Club was organized in 1883, led by prominent millers and civic leaders John Pillsbury and Charles Loring. The private club met in various locations around town until building this Neo-Gothic clubhouse in 1908.
706 2nd Avenue South at southwest corner of 7th Street
Morris T. Baker assembled several investors, including department store mogul George Draper Dayton, to develop this property as the main terminal for all city and suburban streetcars. The 12-story Baker Building was to be a star of the complex that would fill the block with a hotel, office buildings and a parking garage. Over the years the 1926 building has had most of its terra cotta ornamentation removed from its Kettle River sandstone facade and the eye-level storefronts have been remodeled but the general feel remains. The man credited with inventing the Minneapolis skyway system was Leslie Park when he was president of Baker Properties in the 1950s. The first skyway opened in 1962 between Northstar Center and the old Northwestern National Bank and was such as success that another skyway was constructed the next year across 7th Street from the Baker Block.
TURN LEFT AND WALK UNDER THAT HISTORIC SKYWAY BACK TO MARQUETTE AVENUE.
Wells Fargo Center
90 South 7th Street at northwest corner of Marquette Avenue
This was the long-time site of the Northwestern National Bank Building, which burned in 1982. Constructed in 1988, this tower was created by Argentine-American architect César Pelli, known for designing some of the world’s tallest landmarks. But here he stopped one foot short of the IDS Center, just as the Capella Tower would do a few years hence. Pelli’s modernized Art Deco style is said to be an homage to the GE Building at New York City’s Rockefeller Center.
TURN RIGHT ON MARQUETTE AVENUE. AT SIXTH STREET, ACROSS THE INTERSECTION TO YOUR LEFT IS...
Westin Minneapolis (Farmers and Mechanics Savings Bank)
90 South 6th Street at northwest corner of Marquette Street
The Farmers and Mechanics Savings Bank moved from its ornamental Neoclassical home of 50 years into its stylistic opposite - a sleek Art Moderne vault designed by the architectural firm of McEnary and Kraftt in 1941. The building is crafted of southern Minnesota Kasota limestone panels, a stone particularly resistant to weathering and widely used as a building material, including on the facade of Target Field. The larger-than-life bas relief sculptures flanking the cut-in entrance illustrate a farmer and a mechanic brandishing the tools of their trade. They were designed by Warren T. Mosman, who headed the sculpture department at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The over-sized entrance sports molded glass panels bearing classically-inspired motifs. The bank ceased independent operations in 1982 when it was acquired by Marquette Bank and the building was adapted into a guest house by Westin Hotels which preserved its landmark features including the original 34-foot vaulted bank lobby and carved curled walnut panels signifying the leading industries of the World War II era.
ACROSS THE INTERSECTION TO YOUR RIGHT IS...
527-529 Marquette Avenue at northeast corner of Marquette Street
John Augur Holabird and John Wellborn Root, Jr. were the sons of pioneering skyscraper builders who helped define the Chicago Style of architecture. Holabird and Root formed their own design partnership and created some of Chicago’s most impressive Art Deco buildings. In 1929 they came to Minneapolis to design a 26-story tower for Rufus R. Rand, Jr., a World War I aviator who was part of the family that owned the Minneapolis Gas Company. Holabird and Root sent the skyscraper of Indiana limestone rising in setbacks from a square base of Quincy granite. The marble-encrusted lobby is awash in aviation-inspired Art Deco ornamentation, including a sculpture called Wings by Oskar J.W. Hansen who would create the sculptures that adorn Hoover Dam. The building’s developer, Rufus Rand, was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame in 1993.
TURN RIGHT ON 6TH STREET.
225 South 6th Street at southeast corner of 2nd Avenue
Out of respect, the developers of Capella Tower deliberately built it to be one foot shorter than the Minneapolis Sky King, the IDS Center, in 1992. A decade later it was discovered that contractors had surreptitiously added 14 inches of height to Capella, therefore making it the tallest building in the city. Management at the IDS Center went into scramble mode and claimed a 17-foot window washing garage built on its roof as part of the structure and took back the title of tallest building (if the 135-foot communications spires on the IDS are counted there is no dispute).
TURN LEFT ON 2ND AVENUE. TURN RIGHT ON 5TH STREET.
Northwestern Bell (Qwest) Building
224 5th Street South at 3rd Avenue
Telephone companies of the 1930s eagerly embraced the stripped down classicism of the Art Deco movement, as represented here - with a twist. As the 346-foot tower was going up the steel frame of the existing building on the site was stripped and incorporated into the new structure. Edwin Hawley Hewitt and Edwin Brown contributed the streamlined design with setbacks and windows set in recessed channels that emphasize the verticality of the composition.
The Minneapolis Armory
between 5th and 6th streets and 5th Avenue and Portland Avenue
As money flowed from the federal government during the Great Depression around the country to stimulate the economy the largest monetary grant in Minnesota resulted in this building. It was constructed in 1935-36 for the Minnesota National Guard. St. Paul architect P.C. Bettenburg, who was a major in the Guard, provided the Art Moderne styling for the Armory that remained in operation until 1980. Through the years the building hosted concerts, political conventions and was the home for the Minneapolis Lakers before the storied NBA franchise departed for Los Angeles in 1961. The Armory was slated for demolition but the Minnesota Supreme Court saved the building; today it trundles on as a parking garage. Minneapolis native Prince used the Armory to shoot the music video for 1999 in 1982. You are looking at the back of the Armory.
YOU HAVE NOW RETURNED TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT IN THE PARKING LOT ANDSMALL PARK OPPOSITE THE STAR-TRIBUNE BUILDING.