The Original Skyway?

June 26, 2008

Among the things I love about the North Loop are the wide streets. This area, which most Minneapolitans probably don’t think about as part of the Warehouse District, actually retains a much more warehousey feel than the area by Target Center and Butler Square.

This is a favorite view of mine, just half a block from Fast Horse world HQ, that gives a sense of the wide streets and the sweep of the place. That’s the City Hall clock tower in the center, of course, and in the foreground is the brown, windowless skyway that connects two of the buildings at the C.J. Duffey Paper Co. I’ve often wondered whether the Duffey skyway existed before the glass-walled pedestrian skyways of the main downtown district. I stopped by the other day and asked the Duffey people about it. They weren’t positive exactly when it was built, but they were pretty sure it was in the late ’40s or early ’50s. So it probably does predate the main skyway system.

By the way, if you’re at all interested in Minneapolis history, you should visit lileks.com, the personal Web site of Star Tribune columnist James Lileks. Here’s a link to his Minneapolis history section. It’s got great photos of the buildings that used to exist in the Gateway district before they leveled it for urban renewal in the ’50s, along with Lileks’ pithy commentary. The North Loop somehow survived urban renewal — I guess because there were still thriving industrial businesses in this part of downtown, whereas the Gateway was more about eating, sleeping and carousing. Easier to knock down cheap saloons and flophouses than functioning warehouses.