Skyways: What Lies Beneath

As it says (down there) in my bio, I’m a pretty regular user of Minneapolis skyways, especially in any form of inclement weather. Nonetheless, some days, especially this time of year, are not quite cold or inclement enough to make me want to retreat entirely indoors, but still chilly enough to make an entirely outdoor walking commute less pleasant than it should be.

Fortunately, there’s an app for that (or whatever the kids are saying these days), and it involves a local building design oddity that always makes me wonder about its history.

Our journey begins at the entrance to the Investors Building nearest the intersection of Marquette and 8th Street.

Investors Building Entrance

Beyond these doors lies a local artifact: a pre-skyway indoor arcade.

Rather than just a lobby and elevators to the upper floor offices, the ground floor of the Investors Building is connected to the adjacent Baker Center and Roanoke building via a diagonal hallway that crosses through the center of the block. You can see it in the architectural drawings available from the Baker Center’s website:

Baker Center Ground Floor Drawing

Of course, in the era of the skyway, there’s not a lot of interior-facing businesses anymore, but every time I cut through I imagine how things must have been in ’30s and ’40s when people actually had to make use of downtown sidewalks in all types of weather.

Back then, this might have been a more lucrative spot to open your barber shop:

Baker Barbers

And these windows presumably housed businesses that wanted you to be able to see in:

Baker Center Hallway

Alas, these days the design touches are more interesting than the potential for commerce:

Lobby

The tiny editor in my head says this post needs some sort of conclusion, or, you know, to try to make a point of some sort. So, yeah. This place is kind of cool. Maybe you should pop in sometime.

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3 Responses to Skyways: What Lies Beneath

  1. Aaron Isaacs
    Aaron Isaacs October 1, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    The Radisson Arcade connecting 7th and 8th Streets between Macy’s, the hotel and the parking ramp is another example, as is the Endicott Arcade in downtown St. Paul.

  2. Steve H October 3, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    Maybe if it still looked like this more people would want to go there –

    http://collections.mnhs.org/cms/largerimage.php?irn=10205786&catirn=10858013

    I work in that building and every time I look at that fake brick around the barber shop I cringe.

    • Adam Miller
      Adam Miller October 6, 2014 at 10:43 am #

      Or if it was possible to enter from the street after 6 (or whatever it is), when the skyways are still very much open.

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