The North Loop: Instagram’s Favorite Backdrop

November 2, 2016

Fast Horse World Headquarters took residence at 240 North Ninth Avenue in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis in 2006. Though I didn’t join the agency until 2010, I’m old enough to recall the sight of real-life tumbleweeds — dried and uprooted from nearby vacant lots — blowing down Washington Avenue.

Back then, it was rare for human passersby to wander the neighborhood, and when they did, it was because they were en route to someplace else. There was just no real reason to be out and about in the North Loop, save for a trip to Clubhouse Jäger, Bar La Grassa, Bunkers or The Loop. That is, unless you worked here.

Then, everything changed.

From 2011 to 2014, there was a construction boom, which continues still. New condos, breweries, restaurants and shops began to fill the neighborhood. In the span of nine months in 2014, when Fast Horse was temporarily relocated during an office renovation, there was a population boom. Our desolate corner of Minneapolis became so hot right now.

All of a sudden, the neighborhood was populated with young, creative and curious people who clearly took great pride in their surroundings. And even more noticeably, the North Loop became a place where people wanted to be seen. And photographed. A lot.

One of the most interesting developments in the neighborhood — and maybe just as much so in social media writ large — is the sheer amount of street fashion photography that takes place. I use “street fashion” liberally here. What I mean to say is North Loop denizens and tourists alike have decided the neighborhood — even its most mundane structures — are Instagram gold.

See this parking garage across the street?


There is really not much to it. For the residents of the 801 Washington Lofts, it’s where you park your vehicle. For so many others, it’s the perfect structure against which you should strike a freaking pose.

A photo posted by Josiah Davie (@josiahdavie) on

A photo posted by Sarah Todd Activewear (@sarahtoddactivewear) on

A photo posted by jamison. (@fourth.aspect) on

A photo posted by @al_33 on

A photo posted by Kimberlee Ruth Johnson (@kimberleeruthloves) on

A photo posted by T H E | W H I T E | R O O M (@thewhiteroommpls) on

A photo posted by Mals (@malgrosz) on

A photo posted by T H E | W H I T E | R O O M (@thewhiteroommpls) on

A photo posted by jamison. (@fourth.aspect) on

I admit, this was a very different blog post a few days ago. The first draft was bitter, curmudgeonly, even hostile. (Me = most Monday mornings.) Then, I started to think about what it meant that the neighborhood has become such a premier destination for photographers and their subjects. If I’m being truthful, it’s flattering to work for one of the North Loop’s pioneering businesses, and if all of these people are so taken by the beautiful surroundings, I should be, as well. And so I am.

But jeez, cool it with the headshots, guys. It’s just a parking ramp.