The celebrated falls at Minnehaha Park are largely silent in the winter, though the reported laughing these waters performed during the warmer seasons was just a misunderstanding after all. Of the dozens of postcards of Minnehaha Falls in the Minneapolis History Collection, these few depict the falls as frozen in winter. The two cards with pink captions date from sometime about fifteen years after the lands around the falls were acquired by the Minneapolis park board in 1889. The weirdly tinted tones emphasize the cold white starkness of the curtains of ice. The black & white card at the top presents a view from a little later. The only hints of human activity this image contains are the two rustic bridges that cross above and below Minnehaha Falls. The last card (top right) shows the falls in the 1940s; still frozen and still quiet. That is, until the warmth comes around again.
-Ben Heath, Special Collections Intern, Minneapolis Postcard Collection
Edison High School 1927 Wizard: Letters to Thomas Edison
The June 1927 senior class of Edison High School centered their yearbook around the school’s namesake, Thomas Edison. In return, the yearbook’s editor-in-chief, Earl Swanson, received a letter from Mr. Edison, congratulating him on his appointment as editor-in-chief of the Wizard and providing words of wisdom to Swanson and his classmates. The letter was published in the yearbook, along with six letters written to Mr. Edison informing him of the goings-on of the school, as well as photographs and biographical information about Edison.
Business Trade Catalogs Now Available Online
Recently the Special Collections worked with the Minnesota Digital Library to digitize over 100 Minneapolis business trade catalogs dating from before 1923. Products advertised in catalogs include clothing, furniture, tools, machinery, engines, housewares, and more, giving a glimpse into local industry and life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. View a full list of the trade catalogs available in our collection and view pre-1923 catalogs online.
Thanksgiving Day Fire Aftermath, November 25-26, 1982, Part II
Thanksgiving Day Fire Aftermath, November 25-26, 1982, Part I
Thanksgiving Day Fire, November 25-26, 1982, Part II
Thanksgiving Day Fire, November 25-26, 1982, Part I
These images are from the Special Collections slide collection. On November 25, 1982 two juveniles started a fire with an acetylene torch in the partial demolished Donaldson’s department store building in downtown Minneapolis. The fire quickly got out of control and spread to the nearby Northwestern National Bank Building. The IDS Center and J.C. Penney were also attached to the old Donaldson’s building by skyway but firefighters were able to stop the fire from spreading.
The Northwestern Bank building (built in 1930) and Donaldson’s were totally destroyed. Donaldson’s had already moved to the nearby City Center but the Northwestern National Bank building had to be imploded and was replaced by the Caesar Pelli-designed Norwest Center (now the Wells Fargo Center) in 1988.
At the peak of the fire 85% of the Minneapolis Fire Department was fighting it and damages were estimated at $220-240 million in 2013 dollars, about same amount for all the previous 15-20 years of damages in the city.
The Weatherball, which was atop the Northwestern Bank Building, was salvaged and stored at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds before it was scrapped in 2000.
The old Donaldson’s block was replaced by Gaviidae shopping center, also designed by Caesar Pelli.
A new Weatherball is coming to Nicollet Mall.
For many, the Northwestern National Bank Weatherball was an iconic feature of the Minneapolis skyline. Erected in 1949, the structure sat atop the 13-story Northwestern bank building, notifying citizens of the weather with changing neon lights: red, green, white, or blinking:
“When the weather ball is glowing red, warmer weather is just ahead.
When the weather ball is shining white, colder weather is in sight.
When the weather ball is wearing green, no weather changes are foreseen.
Colors blinking by night and day say, precipitation’s on the way”
The Weatherball was destroyed in the Thanksgiving fire of 1982. It was salvaged and stored at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds before it was scrapped in 2000.
WCCO- TV will debut the “Weather Watcher” on Friday, November 29.
(Right image: WCCO, artist rendition)