I have no idea why this site is necessary. When I started it in 1997 or so, there wasn’t much on the web about downtown architecture, or the history of individual buildings. Since then almost every building has a wikipedia page; Google Street View offers a look at every corner; good photographers have posted innumerable sets on Flickr to show the buildings at their best. The appetite for old video-grabs of the rise of the service core of a building that’s been standing for a decade and a half would seem to be small.
But once you put something up, you ought to prune it, water it, add something now and then. Over the years I’ve redone this site four times, including a gruesome and ill-considered change in 2013 that made me wince even when I was overhauling it. This has been cured. Every page is new.
The reason for the site is simple, really: I love this place. Even though they’ve torn down too much. Even though the new buildings can be bland and vague. Growing up in Fargo, this was also the Big City, the place I wanted to be. It’s not my favorite downtown, but it’s my downtown.
If you live here, you might find some interesting history. If you don’t, you’ll get to know some small details you’ll find nowhere else in the world. Be advised that this page is just a part of the Minneapolis section - the LONG GONE site is the real soul, I suppose, an elegy to the great old city that was struck down for Progress.
But it’s not all gone. The picture above is proof: an old elegant cornice competing with glass and Kasota stone, holding its own, finding new purpose: as many new apartments rise downtown, as people come to the city to live like never before, the old buildings are turned to new purposes, and thrive.
Enjoy the tour, and come back now and then. There are many more places to add. It’s never finished, but what city is?
(revised, cleaned up, links fixed, new images added)