James Howard Kunstler Thinks Downtown Minneapolis Blows

[A woman trapped inside the downtown skyway system, longing to escape onto the streets of Minneapolis.]

I was catching up on my backdated listening for the KunstlerCast podcast, one of my most guilty pleasures, and I came across this wonderful James Howard Kunstler (#12 All-Time Urban Thinker) mini-rant about a visit to downtown Minneapolis.

Let me know what you think. I've been meaning for some time to write more about my thoughts on Twin Cities' skyway system. If I was smart, I would tackle this issue during the summer months, instead of waiting until the dead of winter. Once you build them, they're awfully hard to get rid of... so it seems like we'll just have to live with these skyways come hell or high water.

At any rate, I find myself, as usual, agreeing with Mr. Kunstler's opinions.


Jason DeRusha said...

I've never understood why the skyway haters think that having a city on the 2nd story is somehow inferior to having a city on the 1st story. I don't see the difference. in fact, we have a city on the 1st story in the spring/summer - with patio dining. And a city on the 2nd story in the winter.

Color me confused.

I'm pro-city, pro-sidewalk. BUT, our sidewalks move up in the air in the winter. Why is this bad? What do we think would be better if we had no skyways?

Bill Lindeke said...

I promise I will talk about this soon!

Unknown said...

James Howard Kunstler thinks EVERYTHING blows.

Bill Lindeke said...

OK, just to tip my mind a bit... skyways result in segregation, privatization of space, and the splitting of the pedestrian population decreases the diversity of businesses downtown. These are all kind of inter-related.

Re: Kunster, I think that's only true about his rhetoric. One of the good podcast episodes is a walking (googlemaps) tour of Paris, and you can hear James talk about how much he loves certain streets.

xan said...

Although JHK mentions the hideous streets, I think it should be pointed out that making the streets inhospitable at the same time that a skyway layer is added has a compounding effect. There are plenty of people out on Nicollet Mall during the day (and to a lesser extent Hennepin) because the sidewalks are inviting. But the other streets are continuations of the freeway or access to parking lots; not what you would want to walk down unless you have to. I think a dt that is properly done and populated can support two levels of pedestrian activity. Shopping malls usually do. Though I agree about the idea of public space, if someone builds a skyway that is part of the system, they should be made to understand it is public space, whether it legally is or not. Dayton's was always good at allowing people to go through their store before it opened in the morning.

Anonymous said...

I just heard Kunstlercast #100 with a comment about the Minneapolis "gerbil runs." I sent off an offended note, but now that I think about it, I can see his point. I used to work downtown, and I loved the skyways for going out to lunch, but as I now remember, the traffic on the skyways was just people on missions to get somewhere, not paying attention to anything else. The skyways were not any sort of "hang-out" that a street might be if there were something going on out there, like the Aquatennial farmers market. So maybe the skyways are bad for us in a subtle psychological way, but I do like them.