Nicollet Island

Showing 2 posts tagged Nicollet Island

Le Corbusier Comes to Minneapolis

By the 1950s, Nicollet Island was in a fairly advanced state of neglect and was one of many concerns the city faced in figuring out what to do about its aged riverfront. While most developments in later years sought to draw inspiration from the city’s historic roots, this was not often the case early on. Much of the north loop was completely wiped out in the 1960s by the desire to create a “clean slate” from which to build a new city. In his master’s thesis of 1958, architect/urban planner Norman Day (1933-2002) expressed a similar vision for Nicollet Island.
Mr. Day, a Wayzata native and U of MN graduate (1955), earned his master’s at M.I.T., then returned to Minnesota to work several years for the Met Council as the director of physical planning studies. He later moved to Philadelphia, where he worked mainly as an urban planner until retirement. His thesis, “The Redevelopment of Nicollet Island,” proposes a rather Corbusian solution in which the entire island is razed to the ground, replaced with tower blocks and highly ordered buildings, roads, pathways and trees, and even a helipad at the south end to deliver residents to and from the airport. In describing his vision, Mr. Day wrote, “The overriding premise of this design is a belief in the necessity of treating Nicollet Island as a single piece of architecture to be molded and shaped like a homogeneous piece of sculpture.” High-res

Le Corbusier Comes to Minneapolis

By the 1950s, Nicollet Island was in a fairly advanced state of neglect and was one of many concerns the city faced in figuring out what to do about its aged riverfront. While most developments in later years sought to draw inspiration from the city’s historic roots, this was not often the case early on. Much of the north loop was completely wiped out in the 1960s by the desire to create a “clean slate” from which to build a new city. In his master’s thesis of 1958, architect/urban planner Norman Day (1933-2002) expressed a similar vision for Nicollet Island.

Mr. Day, a Wayzata native and U of MN graduate (1955), earned his master’s at M.I.T., then returned to Minnesota to work several years for the Met Council as the director of physical planning studies. He later moved to Philadelphia, where he worked mainly as an urban planner until retirement. His thesis, “The Redevelopment of Nicollet Island,” proposes a rather Corbusian solution in which the entire island is razed to the ground, replaced with tower blocks and highly ordered buildings, roads, pathways and trees, and even a helipad at the south end to deliver residents to and from the airport. In describing his vision, Mr. Day wrote, “The overriding premise of this design is a belief in the necessity of treating Nicollet Island as a single piece of architecture to be molded and shaped like a homogeneous piece of sculpture.”

Grain Belt Beer sign at night, Nicollet Island, 1970s
An image from the Municipal Information Library slide collection which we are in the process of digitizing.
This sign was built in 1940 and faces downtown.  It was lit until 1976 when Grain Belt Brewery was sold to G. Heileman Brewing Company.  Convinced by the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission (Nicollet Island is in the St. Anthony Falls Historic District) and the Eastman family (that own the land the sign sits on) to renovate it and relight it, Heileman did so in 1989.  The sign went dark again in 1991 when Grain Belt was sold to Minnesota Brewing Company (the maker of Pig’s Eye Pilsner).  It was re-lit briefly in 1992 by Minnesota Brewing and stayed lit until 1996 when the financially strapped brewery could no longer afford the maintenance contract. When lit it contains 1,400 light bulbs and 800 feet of neon tubes. In 2010 a developer proposed converting the sign to LED lights and current Grain Belt owner August Schell Brewing was on board to contribute to the renovation but it did not go forward. High-res

Grain Belt Beer sign at night, Nicollet Island, 1970s

An image from the Municipal Information Library slide collection which we are in the process of digitizing.

This sign was built in 1940 and faces downtown.  It was lit until 1976 when Grain Belt Brewery was sold to G. Heileman Brewing Company.  Convinced by the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission (Nicollet Island is in the St. Anthony Falls Historic District) and the Eastman family (that own the land the sign sits on) to renovate it and relight it, Heileman did so in 1989.  The sign went dark again in 1991 when Grain Belt was sold to Minnesota Brewing Company (the maker of Pig’s Eye Pilsner).  It was re-lit briefly in 1992 by Minnesota Brewing and stayed lit until 1996 when the financially strapped brewery could no longer afford the maintenance contract. When lit it contains 1,400 light bulbs and 800 feet of neon tubes. In 2010 a developer proposed converting the sign to LED lights and current Grain Belt owner August Schell Brewing was on board to contribute to the renovation but it did not go forward.