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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • FLY TO THE CARIBBEAN BY CLIPPER, c. 1950s

City Hall: 1905

City Hall: 1905

Minneapolis, Minnesota, circa 1905. "Courthouse and City Hall." Look at the time! 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

Beyond the Bells

Longshanks is right - a wee slow elevator takes you up to the bells. Not recommended for the claustrophobic. You can walk if you wish; a tight, dusty, dim spiral staircase goes up to the chimes we well. But that's not as high as you can get: look at the full-size view, and find the tiny semi-circles at the peak of the tower. That's another floor, and they change the flag from those windows.

I've been up there. It was easier to get into East Germany in 1964 than to get into that space, but we did it - and to get down you have to walk backwards in the dark over a three-story void.

It's an amazing building. Just wish it wasn't puce.

Look out! It's santa!

That elegant tile roof was replaced not more than 5 decades later with some lame copper sheeting. When tiles cracked from the cold, they broke free and impaled pedstrians. Now you have to worry about giant icicles sliding off the copper all winter long.

And on another note, the "Father of the Waters" used to get all dragged out for Christmas. Frightfully so.

Peal out

The tower has a 15-bell carillon, and noontime concerts are still played. The bells also chime at the quarter hours. I don't know what the tower was used for, but a trip to the bell loft is unnerving. A tiny elevator and rickety stairs gets you to a beautiful view.

Tintinnabulations

With such a beautiful tower as the crowning touch of this structure, I am curious if it included bells, if not for melodies, at least to mark the time. It appears there is some type of mechanism in the tower, but I can't make it out. Could any past or present residents of Minneapolis let us know if the tower chimed, and if so, does it still chime today? I am interested to know what was housed in the tower structure and if it is still in use. I certainly wouldn't pass up an opportunity to go exploring in this building from basement to pinnacle.

Clean and symmetrical

Have you ever seen such pristine sidewalks?? Or a better tribute to the stonemason?

Even the horses and carriages out front seem to be precisely arranged. Not so the bicycles, but considering they had neither kickstands nor bike racks, but I can bring myself to overlook this.

The rowhouses look like highly flammable Monopoly tokens.

I'm pretty sure this building was seen last year (pretty creepily in winter twilight) in "The First 48," a true-crime show on A&E.

Present day:

Stone barrier

It's curious how there seems to be a barrier around 3 sides of the building. By the way it rises and hides 1st floor windows, it's on the higher-ground side. Perhaps a protection from water runoff? Yet there's a stairwell heading down halfway along it.

[The handy fence kept pedestrians from falling off the sidewalk into the light well as the street slopes up. - Dave]

His Left Foot

The statue in the rotunda is "Father of Waters," sculpted by Larkin Goldsmith Mead. Legend says that rubbing his toe brings good luck. The left big toe is worn smooth.

A cathedral of governance!

It embodies in stone the sacredness of democracy in the public mind at the time.

Love the beautiful frame houses in the neighborhood too - and it's charming to see the row houses.

Turnabout

The view from the tallest tower on City Hall, in the direction of this camera location (on the top of the Metropolitan Building) is http://www.shorpy.com/node/6973. The state courts outgrew this Richardsonian building by the 1970s and moved a block south, and the jail moved a block east in 2001, but it remains the center of city governance.

The Jail

That's Hennepin county jail, it might still be there. The proper entrance to the building has a quaint statue of a god, Poseidon perhaps, reclining on a cot.

Looks the same

But boy has the neighborhood changed!

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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