Then & Now: University of Minnesota

Streetcar on Washington Avenue in front of Coffman Union c. 1953

Streetcar on Washington Avenue in front of Coffman Union April 16, 1948

A photo taken from the second floor of Coffman Union on September 26, 2014.

A photo taken from the second floor of Coffman Union on September 26, 2014.

These images show very little change on the main Mall of the University of Minnesota campus. Coffman still looks down at Northrup in the distance. There is a tree in the middle, so the landscape is slightly less formal. Some new buildings have been built at the edge of the Mall and Washington. Washington is deeper entrenched.

But lots of more important changes have occurred. After about 60 years without rail transit on Washington Avenue, it came back in 2014. Private cars no longer drive on Washington – which is now a mall. The wooden bridges across Washington are now metallic. Sheltered bus stops grace Washington.

But the unseen scene shows lots of changes.

Students dress more casually. The ethnic composition of students is very different. I am taking a picture with a camera in a mobile telephone, which every person in this scene probably has. The truck in the foreground is due to the bookstore sidewalk sale. The transit is publicly owned. There are “Health Partners” which manage your health instead of private doctors.  The world is now in color. is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

2 Responses to Then & Now: University of Minnesota

  1. Eric Anondson
    Eric Anondson October 2, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    I like how then there was no fence wall on Washington. After riots in the 70s (war protests) the wall was installed.

  2. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke October 2, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    … and the Univerisity itself is huge now. i’d be curious to compare growth of the U of MN (jobs, students, endowment, grants etc.) vs. growth of the surrounding city over this period of time.

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