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.
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.
The End of Firework Sales in Minnesota
"Last stand? Well, it’s the last stand of this fireworks stand. August 1 they’ll be illegal all over the state. Now they’re illegal in the city; but spring up like mushrooms every Fourth of July in suburban areas."
- Minneapolis Times, July 3, 1941 (Caption for photo at left of a Wayzata Blvd. fireworks stand)
Roller Derby: Ranking with Baseball as the Nation’s Favorite Pastime
"One of the most dynamic personalities in big time sports, Leo A. Seltzer is perhaps the only man living who can claim the distinction of building a sport from a mere ‘brainchild’ to the world’s most heavily attended indoor sport in only seven short years! Originated in the Chicago Coliseum in 1935, the Roller Derby is now appearing in over fifty major cities throughout the United States twice yearly, as well as in Canada and Mexico.
"More than 400,000 boy and girl skaters from all parts of the world have tried to gain a place on the Roller Derby since its inauguration. So rigid are the requirements that of that great number only a little over one hundred teams have been able to qualify. They form the six Roller Derby teams now in operation—more teams will be added when new skaters, many of whom are being developed in the Roller Derby’s own training schools, are fully developed."
Leo Seltzer was chairman of the National Committee which governed all rules, skates, maps, plans, tracks, and special signal lights. Franchise holders controlled teams locally. In 1942, Minneapolis Roller Derby franchise holders were Harry Hirsch and Tony Stecher.
Black and white photos, circa 1941, from the recently digitized Marvin Juell negative collection (over 700 images). Juell worked for the Minneapolis Public Library. Red images and text from an event program dated July 31, 1942, which also included official Roller Derby rules and regulations and full line-up for Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Form, Volume, Text, Experience
look at any book, however made
assume you have no label for it,
what are you looking at, what words
could you use, words that are
words that assume and do not assume
that you are looking, simply, at
a work of art…
- Alan Loney, from The Books To Come, a collection of poetry and essays on books
Explore “bookness” (what is a book?) through recent acquisitions in the Fine Press and Book Arts Collection, now on view in Special Collections.
Works featured here include:
- The Vowels: A Congregation of Preachers, book by CB Sherlock, poem by Ann Filemyr, 2013
- Vessels, by Regula Russelle, 2013
- From Left to Right, by Wendy Fernstrom, 2012
- Acorn, by Marvel Grégoire, 2012
- A Collection of Two Letter Words, by Amoreena Tarvas and Richard Stephens, 2013
Summer Walks Across Seward
Join the Seward Walkers for a series of summer evening walks this July. All walks depart from the Matthews Recreation Center front door at 7pm on Wednesdays. If the walk has begun, check at the desk—they’ll tell you which way the group went. All tours are free and open to the public.
Wendesday, July 2: Walk from Matthews to the Mississippi. Learn some significant neighborhood history and meet some neighbors along the way.
Wednesday, July 9: Expert gardener LouAnn Keleher will lead a walk to a few Seward gardens.
Wenesday, July 16: Neighborhood leader Sheldon Mains will lead the group to Seward Commons and include a visit to Urban Farms.
Wednesday, July 23: Well-known architect Bob Mack will lead a walk of buildings that had in the past or have today a religious or spiritual significance. Some buildings have been altered from one purpose to another.
Wednesday, July 30: Park Board Commissioner John Erwin will lead a tour of Seward’s fruit trees.
Photo from the Minneapolis History Collection: West River Road just south of the Franklin Avenue Bridge, circa 1910. Photo by Sweet Studios.
Summertime Doll Buggy Parades
Doll buggy parades were a popular part of many festivals and celebrations in parks throughout Minneapolis, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s. Girls would decorate their baby carriages, and often dress their dolls and themselves to match. They were then paraded through the park or street and entered in a competition for best doll buggy. Winners received prizes ranging from new doll carriages to cash.
The celebration was officially opened at 2 p.m. yesterday when Mayor Meyers and Mr. Comer reviewed the doll buggy parade held at five intersections of Lake street—Hennepin, Lyndale, Park, Fifteenth, and Thirty-fourth avenues. More than 500 girls under eight years of age participated in the parade, which was one of the memorable features of the celebration last year. The winners of the parade will be announced by the association today and prizes of $25, $20, $15, $10, and $5 awarded. [note: 25 dollars in 1921 amounts to over 300 in today’s dollars.]
Lake Street Annual Fete, Minneapolis Morning Tribune, June 10, 1921
Photos from the Minneapolis History Collection:
- Girls in costume waiting for the parade to start, June 26, 1934.
- Elaine Samuelson, winner of the 4th of July Doll Buggy Parade at Powderhorn Park, July 6, 1934.
- More girls waiting for the parade to start, June 26, 1934.
- Jean Ramier won 2nd place in the 4th of July Doll Buggy Parade at Powderhorn Park, July 6, 1934.
- Barbara Jean Carlisle in tears before the 4th of July Doll Buggy Parade at North Commons Park, July 5, 1936.
- Betty Jean Peterson and Donna Mae Pingman ready for the Doll Buggy Parade at Riverside Park, July 5, 1939.
42 Years of PRIDE: Building Acceptance and Equality One Party at a Time
“In 1972, about two dozen gay men gathered in downtown Minneapolis’ Loring Park to march down Nicollet Avenue. While they screamed slogans, friends watched to see if the group was going to be beaten or arrested.”
— “Minneapolis Celebrates 25 Years of Pride” by Maria Elena Baca, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 6/30/1997.
The years that followed saw progressively more participants in, and, though not as quickly, progressively more acceptance of, the celebration of Twin Cities Pride. The annual festival is currently held in Loring Park.
1973 saw around 200 people attend the parade. By 1989, several thousand came to the event, and the parade contained 75 units. Jump to 1997 – 200,000 attended Pride, with a parade of 150 entries. Last year, over 300,000 people swarmed to Loring Park for the two-day festival, and more are anticipated to attend this year than ever before.
No longer considered “an event that seems to interest mainly homosexuals and politicians,” Twin Cities Pride hosts, and openly welcomes, anyone and everyone who wants to join the celebration of personal freedom, equality and acceptance.
Want to know more about the history of PRIDE celebrations in Minnesota? Visit your local library, hclib.org, or the James K. Hosmer Special Collections department at Minneapolis Central Library.
Come visit the Hennepin County Library booth at PRIDE (booth G081) – we’ll be in the Children and Family Area near the basketball courts in Loring Park and we would love to hear your library stories! Get a library card and other giveaways, too!
And stop by the Minneapolis Central Library tonight, Tuesday, June 24th, 7-9 p.m. for “Queer Voices” an Intermedia Arts reading series. Hear from a variety of GLBT authors and poets, purchase books, and get books signed.
- Erin Dahl, Associate Librarian, St. Louis Park Library
YesterQueer: Discovering LGBTQ History in Minneapolis
Next weekend marks the 42nd Annual Twin Cities Pride Festival. In preparation for the weekend’s festivities, you can learn more about Minneapolis LGBTQ history with a new app, YesterQueer. The app, developed in part by former Special Collections intern, historian, and archivist Stewart Van Cleve, seeks to document LGBTQ history, map that history onto the contemporary landscape, and make the map accessible to the public along with related media such as photos, detailed historical background and quotes.
With support from the Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies and Twin Cities Pride, YesterQueer is a collaborative effort shared by Stewart Van Cleve, author of Land of 10,000 Loves: A History of Minnesota (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), and AppyNerds Mobile App Studio.
Read more about it! Freely available for Android and iPhone.
Stop by the Minneapolis Central Library on Tuesday, June 24th, 7-9 p.m. to hear readings by GLBT authors and poets.
“Queer Voices” is Intermedia Arts’ long-running monthly reading series curated by John Medieros and Andrea Jenkins. It provides GLBT writers and audiences an accepting environment to explore the day-to-day material of life without censorship. Authors and poets featured in the past year will be highlighted at this event. An ASL interpreter will be present. Books will be available for purchase and signing.
And visit the Hennepin County Library (booth G081) at the Twin Cities Pride Festival, June 28-29 at Loring Park.
Golden Safari - 50th Anniversary of Hennepin County Library’s Summer Reading Program, 1972
Golden Safari offered a variety of activities, including magic shows, folksinging, story telling, zoo programs, puppet shows and film programs. Mound Library hosted a “Celluloid Safari,” a weekly film program that included, “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” and “Stone Age Americans.”
Hennepin County Library still celebrates summer reading today with a special website and summer reading events.