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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • CARNAVAL EN LA HABANA, 1941

Minneapolis 1908

Minneapolis 1908

The buildings on the left were razed in the 80s for a ghastly development called “City Center,” which wasn’t as imaginative as its name. The retail portion struggled for decades to fail, and finally succeeded. The sliver of white stone on the right was Donaldson’s, a department store that eventually moved into City Center, where it the brand died in a merger. (The old building was demolished for an attractive Cesar Pelli-designed retail / office complex.) Down the street on the right, it’s the Syndicate Building, later the home of Penney’s. (It was torn down for a retail / office complex.) In the distance, the pointy tower of the remarkably ungainly Minnesota Loan and Trust Building, a 49-foot-wide building that stood until 1920 before it was clawed down for a new Woolworth's.

Everything here is gone except for the light-colored building in the middle. It still bears its original name: Andrus. It’s an office complex. No retail. View full size.

Wonderful

Thank you Dave for the answer. And double thank you for all the work you do to bring us fantastic images. My daily production is severely limited by the day dreams your photos invoke.

[Well thanks. But please note that this photo is the work of Dr. Lileks. - Dave]

Thanks again

Holy mackerel, I had no idea the amount of work that went into some of these images

Mystery object

I have been staring at this photo of Minneapolis for several days now as my desktop wallpaper. I cant get past a mysterious object in this picture. Just to the right of the buggy in the foreground, coming up out of the street is a tall dark thin object that appears to be casting a shadow that appears to have been "removed" from the scene. Also, the photo appears smudged in that area. Any sleuths have any ideas? Or did the cat leave a hairball on my monitor?

[It's a crack in the glass negative that got mostly Photoshopped out. - Dave]

Speaking of Trolls

Where's that anonymous buffoon who claimed, in a previous episode of The Shorpy Skirmishes, that Dave "makes his comments from the safety of a black box"? Sure looks like Dave's "box" is the same shade of Peach Flesh all the rest of us sew our quilts in!

[#F7DFCB if you want to get technical. - Dave]

The Battle of Shorpy

Well that was exciting. In the midst of our Quaker quilting bee, suddenly it's Cinco de Mayo. Lileks is livin la vida loca, in Minneapolis at least. Trolls with popguns lurk behind every lamppost!

How I found Shorpy

was through a mention of the site at James Lileks' place. Small world, as I see many of the commenters here have also been there.

In the interests of historical accuracy

Said the original post: “Down the street on the right, it’s the Syndicate Building, later the home of Penney’s."

AnonTip said: “Actually, it was home to Power's. Lileks was wrong about that, too. The cult of personality is strong. But if you've worked downtown for 40 years -- as I have -- you know Lileks' description is inaccurate.”

Here’s a detail from the original of the picture. The Syndicate Building and the Powers building are two different structures. The Syndicate is in the foreground; the Powers sign (no apostrophe) is fixed to the ornate entrance of the original store. The taller white structure was a later addition.

Re: Clarifications

Seasons changed, calendar pages turned ... and then actual scattered applause was heard in our workspace as people finished reading your comment. Three cheers for civility and good manners.

Clarifications.

I apologize in advance for the pedantry.

Anonymous Tipster quoted the original post: “Minneapolis razed four giant blocks for enclosed multi-level retail, and not one can be called thriving." Anonymous replied: “Nonsense. Retail was just one component of the project, which also included an office tower.“

I was referring mostly to the retail portions of the project – hence the oblique line referring to “the retail portion” - and apologize for not making that more clear.

Anonymous notes that “the remaining office space in the complex (where Donaldson's/Carson Pirie Scott was) is 100 percent occupied by Marshall's, an office-supply store and the Minnesota Bar Association.”

I’m not sure what he means; it was retail space, not office space, and I wouldn’t call the MBA retail, unless they have a walk-up counter where you can get a smoothie and a will. In any case, I believe these three establishments occupy only half the original space of the departed department store. The rest was carved up into new retail after the department store closed, and those spots had mostly emptied out the last time I strolled through.

Anonymous continues: “ . . . the Marriott hotel is a thriving concern. A third level of retail failed as did a high-profile restaurant space (Scottie's/Goodfellows), but that was a small chunk of the total development.”

In terms of the total development, yes – if you count the horrid office tower and hotel, it’s a bang-up success, but I was referring to the retail portion of the project, which included a three-story mall crammed with stores and eateries. Most are gone. “Thriving” is a subjective term, perhaps, but the current tenant list is rather thin. Aside from the aforementioned shops, the website lists the following tenants: Brooks Brothers, GNC, Jamba Juice, UPS, Starbucks, a dry cleaners, and Elegant Nails. A far cry from the original list, which I believe was over 60 stores.

I covered the opening day of the mall for the U's paper; I worked downtown and went there daily. What it was, it ain't.

(BTW, The “high profile restaurant space,” as I’m sure Anon knows, was an exact recreation / restoration of the old Forum cafeteria, which had survived for decades on the spot before it was consumed by City Center; why it succeeded for decades as a low-priced eatery in the middle of a thriving commercial street with theaters, shops, and offices, and failed as a high-end restaurant synthetically inserted into an upscale mall, is one of those mysteries for the ages.)

Anon continues: “Hell, he's not even right about Donaldson's. Its store burned down and was cleared before Gaviidae Common (which was NOT desiged by Pelli; Lileks confuses Gaviidae with the Norwest Tower (now the Wells Fargo Tower) -- was built.”

Again, I was being maddeningly vague for the sake of brevity. When I wrote “The old building was demolished for an attractive Cesar Pelli-designed retail / office complex” I meant that it was torn down, and something else put in its place. If I gave the impression that Gaviidae Common was constructed before the building on the site was removed and the department store had vacated the premises, I regret the implication.

As for confusing Gaviidae with Norwest, well, they’re the same project, and as for identifying Cesar Pelli as the architect of Gaviidae, I made the same mistake you’ll find on the firm’s own website, which also seems to think they designed it. Perhaps I should have said “Cesar Pelli and Associates,” to make it clear that the great man did not personally design the tile or the hue of the restroom stall dividers.

In any case: City Center replaced a block of endlessly varied structures with a soul-sucking bunker, and while it’s grand that the tower has high occupancy rates and the hotel is a going concern, it’s a blaring example of the insular, charmless, high-concept projects that cleared away a century of history and gave us blank walls, mirrored glass, and parking ramps. If one finds the site’s modern incarnation preferable, Shorpy must be an aggravating site indeed. Unless one takes comfort in the fact that all that messy old stuff got its comeuppance, of course.

Apologies for the length.

Harmonic Convergence Is Complete; Scattered Chance Of Apocalypse

ShorpLeks. This? This is gonna be *great*.

Thanks, folks.

State of Bliss

I am now very happy that, I have been loging in to a site one hundred years of useful service, to the mankind! I heard that Minnesota is a land of 10,000 lakes! Is it so? I will supply the latest photo in the next week!

Wha?!?

A troll?!? On the interwebs?!? Who ever heard of such a thing?

(You, "sir" are holding the "ax" (sic) you hear being ground. Congrats on being the biggest nerd in the ST:TNG's equivalent architecture thread. Bloody good job, that)

[Speaking of sic, "ax" is the preferred spelling in most dictionaries. - Dave]

Down the Street

"Down the street on the right, it’s the Syndicate Building, later the home of Penney’s."

Actually, it was home to Power's.

Lileks was wrong about that, too.

The cult of personality is strong. But if you've worked downtown for 40 years -- as I have -- you know Lileks' description is inaccurate.

[If you've ever wondered what effect working 40 years in downtown Minneapolis has on a person, now you know. - Dave]

Either Rouse or ...

Rocky Rococo!

"My nostrils flared at the scent of his perfume: Pyramid Patchouli. There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear *that* scent...and I had to find out who he was!"

Also: very cool photo, James. Thanks.

James, I trust you over 10:40

James, Keep up the good work. Obviously, everyone has an opinion about the rise and fall of there particular city. Having never been in Minneapolis I would just have to trust Lileks' perspective.

Throwing stones in a glass Bauhaus

Lileks' comment about the fate of the Donaldson's building is correct. It was torn down (or perhaps to be even more precise, in the middle of being torn down and carted off) when kids trespassed and started the fire that consumed the remains and the Northwestern Bank Building next door. A more complete account of the circumstances of the fire is here.

The City Center has been to urban redevelopment what the Metrodome has been to baseball.

Can't resist clarifying one point

As a native Minneapolitan who's a fan of both Shorpy.com and Lileks.com -- and bugged at the tone of the 10:40 reply just enough to do a quick Google search re Gaviidae and Pelli -- I can't resist noting that Gaviidae Common is listed on Pelli's website as one of his projects.

Keep up the great posts, Lileks!!

Hey!

Looking at this image of Minneapolis 1908, I thought, "James Lileks would be interested in this!" then noticed "Submitted by Lileks." I'm a regular visitor at your wonderful web site, James. Just knew you'd find Shorpy.

Caveat Venditor

Given that Retail is a constant drumbeat among Downtown Resurrectionists, I'd say that Lileks is right on the money. While the office towers are doing well, the retail sections of City Center are looking very poor. Half the retail space on the ground floor is vacant, and the skyway floor is populated by three or four restaurants and a Brooks Brothers. There was a lot of money thrown at that center recently, with the end effect of a long row of empty glass storefronts.

Beyond all this drama, the original picture is fascinating. Considering that almost everything is gone, I couldn't tell which street the photo was taken on until James posted the current view in the comments. (Taken on Nicollet, pointing roughly northeast.)

A short trip

Huzzah! Lileks is the reason I found Shorpy along with Achewood. All three are on on top of my browser. With the wonderful contributions of tterrace and others, I've thought that James was a natural for these pages.

Re the attention to detail. Not withstanding the poster's opinions and assertions as to what construe facts, well, we all may be driven to distraction by petty annoyances. For some of us (dear 10:40 poster) it is a much shorter trip.

But, still, thanks for your opinion. That is what Shorpy is about along with the incredible images, Dave's incomparable dry humor and, yes, his needling/lampooning of us as required.

We're all a bit ADD, but in a Happy Way

Dr. Lileks,

I welcome your additions to Shorpy. Between our good friend Shorpy and your daily multimedia presence, we can all live someplace else for a few minutes.

As for our colleague who questions your accuracy, it sounds like he needed a convenient platform. For some odd reason, I smell the faint perfume of James Rouse.

Please come back and visit us often.

Lileks has poor attention to detail

"Minneapolis razed four giant blocks for enclosed multi-level retail, and not one can be called thriving."

Nonsense. Retail was just one component of the project, which also included an office tower (initially the Multifoods Tower, now mostly occupied by Target). The office tower is 95% occupied (which, in this economy, can be called thriving), the remaining office space in the complex (where Donaldson's/Carson Pirie Scott was) is 100 percent occupied by Marshall's, an office-supply store and the Minnesota Bar Association, and the Marriott hotel is a thriving concern. A third level of retail failed as did a high-profile restaurant space (Scottie's/Goodfellows), but that was a small chunk of the total development.

Hell, he's not even right about Donaldson's. Its store burned down and was cleared before Gaviidae Common -- which was NOT desiged by Pelli; Lileks confuses Gaviidae with the Norwest Tower (now the Wells Fargo Tower) -- was built. The Donaldson's lot sat empty until Gaviidae construction began.

Lileks isn't nearly as smart as he thinks he is.

[I can't be certain but I think I hear the sound of an ax being ground. Or is it a bone being picked? On the wrong side of a bed in a rubber room. - Dave]

Oh, nuts!!!

Thanks to Lileks, my day will start even later, now that I have this site to check before heading out!

Lileks! OMG

My wife and I absolutely LOVE your book on the 70's decorating! It is wonderful restroom reading and cracks me up everytime I pick it up! Thanks so much! Love the webpage too. (it was soooo hard to find ;) )

Swoon

First I stumbled upon Mr. Lileks' site where I found the perfect combination of humor, Minnesota and old things. Then I found Shorpy, a perfect combination of photography, history and blazing photo enhancement. Oh, and yes, blazing wit to boot. To see them together is just too much. Thanks for starting my 2009 off with a smile!

Moreau

The Eyeglasses of Dr. Moreau: Half Human, Half Animal, Half Spectacle!

"City center used to be the center of the scene..."

Minneapolis' own Hold Steady have mentioned City Center a few times in their songs, most notably in YOUR LITTLE HOODRAT FRIEND: "She said City Center used to be the center of the scene. / Now city center's over, no one really goes there."

Craig Finn, lyricist for the band, has this to say about the mall:

"City Center is a lame mall in downtown Minneapolis that is 50 percent vacant with 50 percent low budget gangsters hanging out. The Champs store in this mall is the best place to get the super new school ghetto Twins/Vikings/T-Wolves gear. I mean the non-traditional stuff."

WHAT'S THE SITE?

A couple of people have talked about Mr. Lileks "site." How can we find it? Sounds interesting.

[If only there were some easy, obvious way to find out! - Dave]

Jim!

We're not worthy! We're not worthy!

Seriously, your web site is the only one I know that can reduce me to fits of hysteria - no matter how many times I read it. I was shopping for bread the other night and saw the Sunbeam bread girl on the wrapper, and was completely creeped out.

And that Gobbler motel - I would pay handsomely to go back in time and spend one night in that place.

Road Rules

I guess there were no rules then such as "keep right", etc. Everyone just seems to go where they want and the devil take the hindmost. Those poor ladies standing in the middle would look like easy prey.

180 degrees & 62 years later. . .

Turn around and face the opposite direction, and wait about 62 years, and you'll be able to see Mary Tyler Moore throwing her knitted tam in the air (over and over and over again).

Re: Success

More to come? From Lileks? Holy smoke, is this New Year getting off to a great start!

Success

I meant it succeeded at failing. Minneapolis razed four giant blocks for enclosed multi-level retail, and not one can be called thriving.

thxdave - thanks! More to come.

Hitting the high notes

What dedication it would take to sell piano/organs from a second-floor shop, and then deliver them with a horse and buggy.

City Center not that successful for retail...

In the past five years two of the three levels of retail shops in City Center have been converted to office spaces. It is not longer a major retail presence in downtown Minneapolis.

E B Meyrowitz

I never realized the scope of E B Meyrowitz, Opticians. I thought they were a local NYC optical store and now I see them in turn of the century (20th Century, that is) Minneapolis.

Kodaks

Notice the sign on the left for T.V. Moreau. In addition to eyeglasses they sell "Kodaks."

Hi James

Hey James!! It's great to see you here on Shorpy. I can't tell you the number of hours I've spent combing through your website and nearly pi**ing myself reading your captions!

Today

The view today:


 
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