Photos from the early 20s show a somber building shrouded in soot, its white stone dulled by decades of pollution. The second floors windows are lettered - gilt, no doubt - with the stolid names of the money men. H. P. Dornberg, who was president of Minneapolis Fire Insurance. (You wonder if the Phoenix owners bought a policy, just in case.) H. W. White, a go-getter who ran three real estate firms and died at the age of 36. North American Telegraph Company, a local concern that took on Western Union - and lost. A barber pole on the corner was the only hint that the building was not entirely devoted to counting dollars.

After just a few decades, it looked quiet and old. Stifling in the winter, broiling in the summer, with the ghosts of cigars in the hallways.





The mood on the corner changed by the 40s. The stone was scrubbed clean, and gleamed again. Sorenson Drugs opened up on the corner, hung out the Coke signs, filled the windows with merchandise. The modernization of downtown’s first-floor facades hadn’t yet begun, so the Phoenix didn’t pretend to be something shiny and new on the ground - it was still the same old sober citizen, surrounded by its peers. A bit taller. A bit richer.

In some photos of the Phoenix, you see a sign in the corner: TRIBUNE. The paper moved across the street, joining the other papers on Fourth, a stretch known as Newspaper Row. After the Tribune fire, papers wanted their own buildings.

You can understand their logic.