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Minneapolis Public Library: 1900

The Minneapolis Public Library circa 1900-1906. This 1884 Romanesque Revival building, designed by Long and Kees, was razed in the 1950s and is now a parking lot. Detroit Publishing Company glass negative. View full size.

The Minneapolis Public Library circa 1900-1906. This 1884 Romanesque Revival building, designed by Long and Kees, was razed in the 1950s and is now a parking lot. Detroit Publishing Company glass negative. View full size.


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Built sans computer and housing no Internet

You may want to add the modifier "Richardsonian" to your caption.

Textbook Case

According to the 1938 WPA Guide to Minnesota: "Minneapolis comes justly by its reputation-one of the Nation's most beautiful cities."

As it was at one time -- see the book or DVD "The Lost Twin Cities". Hard to believe the destruction that has gone on.

[Below: The "beautiful" Minneapolis of 1905. Click to enlarge. - Dave]

You'll poke your eye out!

Our family's ritual utterance when catching sight of the arrogant, pointy whatever-the -heck it is that has landed on top of the new library. Without the Pointy Thing the library's exterior would be almost identical to that of the building it replaced.

Time rolls on....

There was another Minneapolis Public Library between the romanesque revival one and the current Ikea Shelf one. It was a nice International Style building on Hennepin Avenue. I've been to the new library. It uses available light like no other building I've been in. I like it.

What a relief

I agree with the commentary about the new library vs the old one. However after seeing it featured a Twin Cities building I'm just as glad the estimable Lileks didn't post the photo. I don't think I could stand another week of sniping, cheap shots and drama. Although, I admit, I indulged in it.


Cesar Pelli designed the library. Personally I love it. Although I suppose if your reactions run to ICK and APPALLING, you might be happier with the model of Cinderella's castle in the Juvenile section. It's pink!


Everyone I know thinks it's quite beautiful. You should visit it sometime.


As a library employee who works in a restored Carnegie library (with an addition that is VERY similar in style to the original building) I can only say that I find the new "improved" building APPALLING. I am not against new building, but this style of architecture is one I call "Monday Morning" style: the architect comes in on Monday morning with a hangover and this is the best s/he can come up with! I agree that not having to ask for a book in storage or closed stacks is a good thing, but to eliminate all charm in the name if function is criminal.

Rippling floors

Although it's a shame the old "old library" couldn't be saved, I remember the interior was very run down. The wood floors sort of rippled.

Through the Eyes of '55

I agree that it was a shame to raze this building. I am a huge fan of Historic Preservation. Sometimes I try to understand what people were thinking when they wanted to get rid of structures such as this. I suppose by the standards of the 1950s (think of those case study homes) a building like this looked fussy and maybe even reminded people of unpleasant Victorian restraints and prejudices. Hard to believe this fortress was only given 50 years to stand.

[More like 75 years. - Dave]

Old and New

The old library was replaced by a bland 1950s municipal building farther north on Hennepin as part of the Gateway Commons redevelopment. The current library was built on that site.

The new building (by Cesar Pelli) is a stunner: open and airy, with easy access to every book in the collection. You can go to the archives and use the hydraulic bookshelves on your own -- don't need to request a book from a librarian. It has fireplaces, plenty of places to lounge and read -- very impressive.


THAT is what a library should look like! I am a Minneapolitan and our city has destroyed some wonderful historical buildings in the name of "moving forward." Shame on us!!!

That corner now.

Looks like the nifty library became a parking lot, but the church is still there:

View Larger Map

Can't say what church it is ... I'm not much for the 10th and Hennepin scene, and Google's image resolution isn't quite up to the Shorpy level. Maybe if I'm ever driving by it, I'll check and let everyone know.

[It's First Baptist Church, 1021 Hennepin Avenue. - Dave]

Keep Out!

I've never seen a more formidable, unwelcoming building than the current library. I agree with you, Dave, about the Ikea bookshelf but suspect you could have done better than this with or without the instructions.

Stylistically ...

The caption says "romanesque revival."

Safe Harbor

Bicycles are happy to be left, unmolested, curbside! How novel! This is another excellent photo, Dave! I love the building's design, even though its very busy with all of that fancy brocade work and delightful pineapple stuff going on uptop. Can anyone tell us how this place might be defined, stylistically? Also, any word on what that lovely church in back was - or is?

More Proof

Boy, we've sure destroyed some magnificent buildings in the name of God knows what!

And replaced by...

something much more impressive, I'm sure.

[Below, the stunningly beautiful Minneapolis Central Library. Which reminds me of the time I tried to assemble an Ikea bookshelf without the instructions. - Dave]

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