Then & Now: Minneapolis’ Loring Park

A few weeks ago, I posted a Then & Now picture of the neighborhood surrounding the Cathedral in downtown Saint Paul. It’s only fitting that we look at the neighborhood surrounding the Basilica in downtown Minneapolis, as the contrast is just as striking.  This is the location of the infamous Lowry Hill Tunnel, as well as the Walker, Loring Park, and 394 (our most recent addition to our central city freeway system. Enjoy!

[Click image to enlarge.]




8 thoughts on “Then & Now: Minneapolis’ Loring Park

  1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

    If there ever were a site for Minneapolis’s own Big Dig, this would be it. It makes me long for Oslo’s freeway tunnels. They’ve buried their freeways all over, the most impressive being the Opera Tunnel, at 6 km in length, which runs under downtown. But they’ve also done shorter lengths in relatively low-value residential areas, like the Tåsen Tunnel.

    It would be truly transformative to this area of town to see this thing buried from the 35W interchange to Glenwood Ave or so.

  2. Reuben CollinsReuben Collins

    I’d be curious to read old accounts about residents experiences with that oblique Hennepin/Lyndale intersection shown in the 1949 image. While the 2013 image is depressing, I have a hunch that intersection wasn’t a piece of cherry pie back in ’49 either.

    1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

      I’d be curious about this as well. On the one hand, it was almost certainly a volume of traffic that it wasn’t built to handle. On the other, I assume this was long before the era of stroad-lights, where each and every possible movement has a separate cycle and the vast majority of traffic is sitting still at any given time.

      My bet would be large number of cars stacked, trying to make left turns — and perhaps some hazardous movements from motorists behind them to try to get around. But I’d put my money on it still being more pleasant than a stroad-light setup like on American Boulevard or Hiawatha today.

      You can also see an image of the site (known as the Virginia Triangle) in 1938. Traffic seems remarkably light here.

    1. Matt Brillhart

      We HAVE to do that to Nicollet Ave over I-94 if/when that bridge needs replacement (perhaps as part of the streetcar project). It would surely be a catalyst to develop the vacant lots along Nicollet just south of I-94. Minneapolis has so many big infrastructure projects going on right now, I’m worried that there’s simply no capacity (staff-wise or financially) to plan for this, even though it seems like a slam dunk.

      1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

        I like the idea of these, but who wants to live or work above an open freeway? There are other, less extreme ways of providing some separation from the freeway below — like the Cedar St overpass of 94 in downtown St. Paul.

        That said, I assume the Nicollet bridge must be fairly close to the chopping block, since Chicago, Portland, Park, and LaSalle have all been replaced fairly recently. (Although those were all redecking only — you couldn’t build an apartment building that way.) I would guess the Nicollet and 1st Ave bridges will probably be done in conjunction with the replacement of the Braid Bridge and the 94 flyover in 2018ish.

  3. Jim Y

    Having grown up in the area in the 1950’s – the intersection of Hennepin & Lyndale was known as the “Bottle neck” and it truly was. I remember as I walked to Emerson school out pacing the cars trying to deal with rush hour traffic through there. Other memories – the area west of what is now the Walker had large, wooded empty lots. They were hilly and hard to build on so they remained undeveloped into the 1960’s. Parade Stadium was west of the Sculpture Gardens. Every Fri. night in the fall the best match up between the top Minneapolis high school football teams was selected to be played there instead of at the high school’s home field. It was quite an honor and West High played a lot of games there, at least until my class showed up. 🙁

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