TC Sidewalks Live! Downtown Minneapolis Skyway Tour

A week from Saturday, at 2pm on the 20th, I'll be hosting another Downtown Minneapolis skyway tour. Highlights will include the oldest skyway (i.e. the 2nd skyway in Minneapolis history), the longest skyway, the newest skyway (as close as we can get to it), the second newest skyway (formerly the "skyway to nowhere"), some "architecturally noteworthy" skyways, and of course the most soul-sucking skyway (location TBD, could be pictured at right, but I doubt it).
[See also Minneapolis Skyway Tour #1 and Minneapolis Skyway Tour #2.]

[2012 Minneapolis Skyway tour getting kicked out of the Crystal Court.]
Skyways are Minneapolis' most unique architectural feature, and are still a key point of contention between place-oriented urban planners, urban and suburban publics, and the business community. I pretty much hate them, but I think they prove a useful point about public and private space, and how those distinctions can be carefully constructed and rely on subtle social relationships.

Feel free to read up on skyways, as I've written a ton on this topic. Here are some highlights:

The Case Against Skyways in 10 Easy Steps
Happy 50th Birthday to the Minneapolis Skyway System
Four Suggested Skyway Improvements
Stuck With Skyways
Climate as Proxy for Capital in the Minneapolis Skyway System

We'll be starting in the IDS Center, right in the middle of the Crystal Court, which is not where the skyways began, but rather where they "peaked" as public space. Everything else is downhill.

What: A guided tour of the downtown Minneapolis skyway system
When: Saturday afternoon, the 20th of February
Where: Meet at the IDS Center Crystal Court, and walk around from there
Why: Because the skyways are still there
Who: You can come! Feel free to buy your tour guide a drink afterward.

Here's some food for thought:

The Unwritten Rules of Skyway Etiquette, by Mark McGinty
1) Stay to the right.
2) Move quickly towards your destination in an orderly manner.
3) No zig-zagging.
4) No stopping to gawk at merchandise.
5) No stopping at all.
6) No looking at merchandise.
7) When traveling in groups, stay close together in tight little packs - do not walk side-by-side-by-side-by-side.
8) Keep the luggage to a minimum.
 9) No phone calls unless you're using an earpiece or headset in which case you kind of look like a D-Bag. 
10) By all means if you need to turn around, exit and enter somewhere else - do not just stop, turn around and start walking directly into the coming masses, people! 

Follow these rules and you will live longer!!!

[A William H. Whyte quote on the side of the IDS this winter.]
Please note that we'll be breaking all or most of these rules. (Sorry Mark!)

Did skyways "save downtown", as some people claim? Do skyways "ruin the city"? Should we tear them down or keep building more?

I look forward to seeing you.

I'm guessing the tour might be 90 minutes or so, though you're welcome to leave whenever you like. We'll be ending at one of the few skyway-connected downtown bars for after-walk mingling.

Some illustrative highlights follow:

[First renderings of the downtown Minneapolis skyway system, when they were open-air.]

[The Tri-Tech Office Building skyway under construction, and 32 years later.]

[R.T. Rybak reporting on skyway shade c. 1985.]

[Some friends and I picnicing in the Minneapolis skyway in 2015, which is something only white people can do.]

[Minneapolis bike cop taking his bike up a skyway escalator for some reason.]

[The newest skyways, going the new football stadium, under construction last fall.]

1 comment:

Adam said...

You're early! If the schedule holds, you could visit the very newest skyways, connecting to the new Wells Fargo towers, on the 29th.

The criminal justice building gets my vote for most soul-sucking, although I recently realized there is "public" street access from its lobby. Which would be great if there were signs outside the building saying that.

While Crystal Court is the "peak," US Bank Plaza is newer and reasonably good (i.e., retail on both the street and skyway level, easy communication between the two).

As for skyway-connected watering holes, there's Pourhouse, Lion's (skill accessible during hotel construction?), Foreign Legion (still open? don't think so), Prohibition, Ling & Louie's (new skyway connection!), Rock Bottom, Bar Zia (totally forgot this place exists), Constantine, the craft beer thing in the convention center (still open?), and various restaurant and hotel lobby bars that are skyway-accessible.

I think you need to visit all the places that tell people on the street that they're not welcome to enter the skways: the Thrivent down-only staircase that's (supposed to be) locked to the sidewalk, the Latitude 45 elevator to the street that's also locked to the sidewalk, the Baker Center street level doors that lock promptly at 5 (I think), and probably others I'm missing.

Also worth noting is how there are all kinds of retail businesses up in the skyways that no one on the street would know about, because there's no signage. A weird way we hamper the success of skyway businesses while also harming the street (or its people).

Okay, so maybe I need to participate. We'll see.