The Minneapolis skyline: Which freeway approach gives the best view?

FROM THE NORTH ON I-35W
Coming from the north, as soon as you cross into the city limits, you find a perfect history lesson on the city Minneapolis laid out in front of you. You’re high enough up that you can see all way down to the riverfront, at the bottom strata, the oldest part of the city – the mills that built Minneapolis, their Gold Medal and Pillsbury signs still visible. The layer above that, you see the city reaching higher and higher, the clock tower of City Hall with its peaked copper green roof most prominent here. The city reaches upward, decade after decade, layer after successive layer: the Norwest Center, the US Bank Plaza, and at the top, the Capella, IDS and Wells Fargo towers. To the west, warehouses and water towers. Even the Metrodome, off to the east and framed by the smokestacks and transformers of Southeast, looks OK from this perspective – your drunken, parachute-covered uncle, snoring peacefully off in a corner.

The city skyline from the north is the city skyline at its most mythical; it looks dense, heavy, multi-layered, both historic and contemporary, all of it stretched out before you. I feel like there should be a rainbow arching down to kiss the shiny bronze head of the Hubert H. Humphrey statue at City Hall every time I drive down from the north. Imparting that sensation is about all you can ask of your city’s skyline.

by Andy Sturdevant on MinnPost

Minneapolis’ sense of itself revealed in artist-designed manhole covers

In downtown Minneapolis on Nicollet Mall, and on 6th and 7th Streets between Nicollet and Hennepin, you can find a few pieces of highly functional public art, utilizing a nontraditional medium: manhole covers, designed by artists between 1983 and 1990.

In a sense, to not notice a piece of public art is the greatest compliment you can pay it. Good public art isn’t supposed to be obtrusive or needy. It’s supposed to complement its surroundings, and these manhole covers do just that. Most people walking over or around them downtown don’t seem to notice them, but they’re ready to be noticed when someone is taking the time to observe their environment.

by Andy Sturdevant of MinnPost

Minneapolis’ sense of itself revealed in artist-designed manhole covers

In downtown Minneapolis on Nicollet Mall, and on 6th and 7th Streets between Nicollet and Hennepin, you can find a few pieces of highly functional public art, utilizing a nontraditional medium: manhole covers, designed by artists between 1983 and 1990.

In a sense, to not notice a piece of public art is the greatest compliment you can pay it. Good public art isn’t supposed to be obtrusive or needy. It’s supposed to complement its surroundings, and these manhole covers do just that. Most people walking over or around them downtown don’t seem to notice them, but they’re ready to be noticed when someone is taking the time to observe their environment.

by Andy Sturdevant of MinnPost

U of M student design showcased in painted ads on Washington Ave. bridge

The Washington Avenue Bridge that connects the West and East Banks at the University of Minnesota is one of those places that thousands of people walk through every day and take for granted. Besides being a popular destination for macabre-minded local cultural tourists, being the site of poet John Berryman’s suicidal leap into the frozen Mississippi River in 1972, it also contains one of my favorite collections of public artwork in the cities. The bridge has a covered pedestrian walkway, once envisioned as a sort of collegiate Ponte Vecchio on the prairie, with shops, cafés, and other amenities inside. That never quite came to pass, so the walkway is now just a hulking, empty metal structure that seems like it should be filled with something, like it’s eternally in the first phase of an ambitious build-out that will never happen.

What is inside, though, is a collection of hundreds of painted advertisements on the walls’ panels, underneath the windows, created by student organizations to recruit passersby to their causes. They change out every semester, and run the gamut from spectacularly amateurish to dishearteningly slick.

click pic to read the rest of this neat article via Andy Sturdevant on MinnPost

Minneapolis’ East Bank stairways lead to quiet riverside solitude

The river in this part of the city can seem almost subterranean, separated and buffered from the flat, gridded, concrete expanses of southeast Minneapolis above it by sheer wooded bluffs. Descending the stairways, one gets the sense of traveling underground. The path down by the river is, on a Sunday morning, almost wholly deserted, and the roar of vehicular traffic over Franklin and 94 sound like it’s coming from some distant point overheard.

via Andy Sturdevant on MinnPost

Dinkytown has a clear sense of its history

People are protective of Dinkytown, and for good reason. Few neighborhoods outside Summit Avenue have as clear a sense of their own history. Within a one block radius around 4th Street and 14th Avenue last weekend, I came across no fewer than four public markers commemorating very specific aspects of the neighborhood’s history. Not official markers dreamt up by a bureaucrat somewhere, either, but markers put up by local storeowners and residents of their own accord. I defy you to tell me any neighborhood in Minneapolis or St. Paul with a similar density of homemade historical markers. I can’t think of any.

The best part is, these markers commemorate not dull historic events or great statesmen, but the most mundane aspects of everyday life around the margins of a major university: Coffee shops! Restaurants! Student hangouts!

via Andy Sturdevant at MinnPost

Tangletown: a neighborhood that feels like its name

I’m hoping I won’t receive a bunch of nasty emails for making such a heartless observation, but I generally find the vast majority of Minneapolis neighborhoods to be largely indistinguishable from one another.

This isn’t to say that they don’t have their individual charms and identities, because obviously they do — no one would mistake Kingfield for Whittier, because everyone knows Kingfield is full of bungalows and precocious children and wine bars, and Whittier is full of old mansions and storefront restaurants and art students. But the majority of Minneapolis is so flat and so mercilessly gridded, and the style of the architecture changes so gradually from block to block, that for large swaths of the city, there isn’t much in the way of physical cues to indicate that you’ve passed from one neighborhood into another.

Tangletown is one of the few neighborhoods that completely steps off the grid and throws off the alphabetical-numerical nomenclature of the rest of Minneapolis.

via Andy Sturdevant on MinnPost.

  1. Camera: EPSON Epson Stylus NX420

Trying to make sense of the eight million square foot capitalist fever dream that is the Mall of America has been a favorite of locals since it opened in 1992. What do we do with such a place? What does it say about Minnesota? Is the MOA something to be proud of and awed by, or something to be ashamed of? Andy Sturdevant, who will admit to never liking the Mall very much, will lead a sympathetic, in-depth tour of the MOA’s history, inner workings, secret highlights, notable attractions, and complex, enduring influence on the state’s self-image.

Tour on foot and via light rail - participants must bring money for their fare
All tours will depart from the Common Room sign at The Soap Factory’s front dock at precisely 6:30 p.m.

I will be here tonight, and the cool thing is I gave Andy Sturdevant a tour of the mall last week. Little known fact: he helped launch Stuff about Minneapolis over three years ago with my first reblogged post, and a cheery note of, “Follow this guy!”.

If you don’t take the train and are driving down to the mall, it sounds like we will be meeting on the fourth floor by the MOA Wall Of Fame around 7:15-7:30.

Lutheran past, mixed present mingle in South Minneapolis

Like those of most people who didn’t grow up here — and probably many who did — a lot of my earliest perceptions of what life in this snowy, mysterious northern region of the country must be like were informed by “A Prairie Home Companion,” which my family listened to fairly regularly. I remember being genuinely shocked, in fact, in my first year in Minneapolis that I never seemed to hear people on the street speaking Norwegian.

by Andy Sturdevant on MinnPost

'Ex-town' Jonathan still has distinct touches of its futuristic beginnings

Jonathan is vaguely futuristic, because the history of Jonathan is utterly unlike that of any other place in the state. Utopian futurism is Jonathan’s heritage, and it’s a heritage that’s easy to spot once you park your car, get out and have a walk around.

By Andy Sturdevant of MinnPost

'Flour power' art project pays tribute to Minneapolis' milling history

there is no other city in America where the industrial structures of milling and grain so dominate the physical landscape. To see mills and grain elevators and storage bins against the skyline is to know you’re in Minneapolis. The falls still churn away.

via MinnPost