Hennepin County Library

Jul 21

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Jul 19

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Jul 17

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Jul 15

The View from the Laurel Avenue Bridge, 1941
From the late 19th century and through much of the 20th, the low areas north of the Warehouse district and spreading westward past Kenwood towards Cedar Lake were a busy, crowded mass of railroad tracks, as can be glimpsed in the photo above. The old Laurel Avenue Bridge spanned the yards from the Bryn Mawr neighborhood into downtown.  
Both the bridge and many of the tracks were torn out in the 1970s as the area was converted into a maze of freeway bridges and overpasses. The recently completed Van White Bridge is the first to span that area since the removal of the Laurel Ave bridge. 
Only a single set of railroad tracks passes through what is now used for bicycle trails and the City’s public works facilities, branching into two tracks as it passes Kenwood. As Louis D. Johnston points out in a recent MinnPost article, this railroad corridor has long been a source of controversy and, despite the huge reduction in rail traffic, disagreements continue to this day in the shape of the current SWLRT debate.   
Photo from the Marvin Juell collection, Hennepin County Library Special Collections

The View from the Laurel Avenue Bridge, 1941

From the late 19th century and through much of the 20th, the low areas north of the Warehouse district and spreading westward past Kenwood towards Cedar Lake were a busy, crowded mass of railroad tracks, as can be glimpsed in the photo above. The old Laurel Avenue Bridge spanned the yards from the Bryn Mawr neighborhood into downtown.  

Both the bridge and many of the tracks were torn out in the 1970s as the area was converted into a maze of freeway bridges and overpasses. The recently completed Van White Bridge is the first to span that area since the removal of the Laurel Ave bridge. 

Only a single set of railroad tracks passes through what is now used for bicycle trails and the City’s public works facilities, branching into two tracks as it passes Kenwood. As Louis D. Johnston points out in a recent MinnPost article, this railroad corridor has long been a source of controversy and, despite the huge reduction in rail traffic, disagreements continue to this day in the shape of the current SWLRT debate.   

Photo from the Marvin Juell collection, Hennepin County Library Special Collections

Jul 12

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Jul 10

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Jul 07

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Jul 05

Future for Former Sheraton-Ritz Site
The Minneapolis Sheraton-Ritz was a hotel located across the street from the Central Library—on the block bounded by Nicollet Mall, Marquette Ave, and 3rd and 4th Streets. It was the first major structure built in Minneapolis after the Gateway District Urban Renewal Project where a large portion of Downtown Minneapolis was condemned and demolished as urban blight. Construction began in 1961 and the hotel opened to the public in 1963. This postcard from our collection shows the hotel in all its glory.
The hotel itself was done in the 1960s modern style with a white marble lobby and chrome metal accents and fixtures. The ground level of the hotel featured a plaza and shopping arcade including a small importer of Scandinavian home furnishings called the International Design Center (now located in Edina). The hotel was featured in several episodes of the 1960s television series Route 66 and counted at least two U.S. presidents, and celebrities Bob Hope, Henry Fonda and Ed Sullivan as guests.
During the mid-1980s the hotel changed hands several times and later operated under the names of the Minneapolis Plaza Hotel and the Minneapolis Ritz. It was closed on July 1, 1988, just 25 years after opening, citing a lack of business. It was demolished in 1990. During the early 1990s a proposal to build a multi-block office development around the site including a 65-story building dubbed “IDS II” circulated but ultimately did not come to be. Instead, the site has been used as storage, temporary event space and parking and remains used as such today.
Earlier this year, Opus Development Company, who own the site,  outlined plans for a mixed-use tower topping 30 stories that would combine more than 300 residential units with approximately 500,000 square feet of office space. Read more here. Sounds like the view from Special Collections could look drastically different sometime within the next decade.
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Photo by Earl Chambers of Anthony Lane Photography Studio. June 8, 1962 during the construction of the Sheraton-Ritz Hotel and its parking ramp.
This post was researched and written by Special Collections volunteer Nick Steffel.

Future for Former Sheraton-Ritz Site

The Minneapolis Sheraton-Ritz was a hotel located across the street from the Central Library—on the block bounded by Nicollet Mall, Marquette Ave, and 3rd and 4th Streets. It was the first major structure built in Minneapolis after the Gateway District Urban Renewal Project where a large portion of Downtown Minneapolis was condemned and demolished as urban blight. Construction began in 1961 and the hotel opened to the public in 1963. This postcard from our collection shows the hotel in all its glory.

The hotel itself was done in the 1960s modern style with a white marble lobby and chrome metal accents and fixtures. The ground level of the hotel featured a plaza and shopping arcade including a small importer of Scandinavian home furnishings called the International Design Center (now located in Edina). The hotel was featured in several episodes of the 1960s television series Route 66 and counted at least two U.S. presidents, and celebrities Bob Hope, Henry Fonda and Ed Sullivan as guests.

During the mid-1980s the hotel changed hands several times and later operated under the names of the Minneapolis Plaza Hotel and the Minneapolis Ritz. It was closed on July 1, 1988, just 25 years after opening, citing a lack of business. It was demolished in 1990. During the early 1990s a proposal to build a multi-block office development around the site including a 65-story building dubbed “IDS II” circulated but ultimately did not come to be. Instead, the site has been used as storage, temporary event space and parking and remains used as such today.

Earlier this year, Opus Development Company, who own the site,  outlined plans for a mixed-use tower topping 30 stories that would combine more than 300 residential units with approximately 500,000 square feet of office space. Read more here. Sounds like the view from Special Collections could look drastically different sometime within the next decade.

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Photo by Earl Chambers of Anthony Lane Photography Studio. June 8, 1962 during the construction of the Sheraton-Ritz Hotel and its parking ramp.

This post was researched and written by Special Collections volunteer Nick Steffel.

Jul 03

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Jul 01

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