As it says (down there) in my bio, I’m a pretty regular user of Minneapolis skyways, especially in any form of inclement weather. Nonetheless, some days, especially this time of year, are not quite cold or inclement enough to make me want to retreat entirely indoors, but still chilly enough to make an entirely outdoor walking commute less pleasant than it should be.
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Fortunately, there’s an app for that (or whatever the kids are saying these days), and it involves a local building design oddity that always makes me wonder about its history.
Our journey begins at the entrance to the Investors Building nearest the intersection of Marquette and 8th Street.
Beyond these doors lies a local artifact: a pre-skyway indoor arcade.
Rather than just a lobby and elevators to the upper floor offices, the ground floor of the Investors Building is connected to the adjacent Baker Center and Roanoke building via a diagonal hallway that crosses through the center of the block. You can see it in the architectural drawings available from the Baker Center’s website:
Of course, in the era of the skyway, there’s not a lot of interior-facing businesses anymore, but every time I cut through I imagine how things must have been in ’30s and ’40s when people actually had to make use of downtown sidewalks in all types of weather.
Back then, this might have been a more lucrative spot to open your barber shop:
And these windows presumably housed businesses that wanted you to be able to see in:
Alas, these days the design touches are more interesting than the potential for commerce:
The tiny editor in my head says this post needs some sort of conclusion, or, you know, to try to make a point of some sort. So, yeah. This place is kind of cool. Maybe you should pop in sometime.
Adam Miller lives and works in downtown Minneapolis. He’s an avid user of the city’s bike paths, sidewalks and skyways. He’s not entirely certain he knows what the word “urbanist” means.