20th Century, Architecture, Economics, History, Intercession, Minnesota, Uncategorized, Unemployment

Unemployment and the Gateway District

jshiffer_1323895792_vachongateway

1930 to 1935
In the depth of the Great Depression, unemployed transients loiter in the Gateway district of downtown Minneapolis.*

Many great cities are renowned for their entrances: Paris has the Arc d’ Triumph, India has the Buland Darwaza, and Jerusalem has the Golden Gate (Sha’ar HaRachamim). Minneapolis wanted to create a beautiful structure to welcome visitors into Minneapolis as they came from the train station. In 1915, the city built a gateway pavilion, flanked by curving colonades, that surrounded a Civil War memorial fountain and flagpole and pathway. Known as Gateway Park, the surrounding area adopted the title of the Gateway District.**The Gateway District of Minneapolis was centered at the convergence of Hennepin Avenue, Nicollet Avenue, and Washington Avenue.***

So, how did this this transition from fabulous to flophouse happen in the next two decades? Author David L. Rosheim did extensive research into the decay of this neighborhood in his book; “The Other Minneapolis or The Rise and Fall of the Gateway, The Old Minneapolis Skid Row”.****

“According to Rosheim, as unemployment rose, so did the hobo population. A new demographic of this drifter population was youth, driven away from home by poverty, or perhaps in pursuit of better opportunities.

Public relief rose drastically during this period. In 1930, an estimated $215,000 was spent on Minneapolis Poor Relief. Charities such as the Union City Mission continued to serve free meals if the visitor listened to a sermon. The Minneapolis City Council raised funds through bond issues to begin construction on public projects, in hopes of making a dent in the massive unemployment rate.” ***

What can be said about poverty that has not been said? What were the judgments of these primarily male vagabonds against Minneapolis, society, and themselves? What cultural transference resulted from the relationships in the Gateway District?

Will You bless both those who wish to beautify the public spaces of the city, and those who wish to make use of those places? Will You forgive the judgments of those who took too much pride in the sanctity of this park, and the judgments of those who take too little pride in themselves or their public conduct? We have failed You on both ends to see the message brought by those who have different motives than ours. Have mercy.

Will You forgive, where it applies, the pridefulness of the alcoholics, and addicts of this era? We are guilty of trying to solve our problems on our own, and have rejected the help that comes from being open to new relationships because we would rather hold onto our pain. When and where Minneapolitans have suffered foolishly rather than accepting kind and useful input into our bad choices; have mercy!

Will You forgive both the misogyny and misandry of the sex trafficking of this era? We have sexualized the need for touch, and have rejected true affection. We have chosen either to take money to submit to abuse, or pay money to be the abuser.

We have judged the opposite sex falsely in the transaction of prostitution. Our men have wanted women for sex, but not considered them worthy of relationship. Our women have viewed men as incapable of love, so they might as well be an open wallet. Will You forgive the sexual sins that result in sex trafficking then, now and future?

Will You forgive the shame of these men for being poor and alone? The Great Depression was so very costly to many, and its pain lives in the false self assessment that we are what we do and own. Will You lift this pain and shame up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ?

Will You forgive “functional” society its judgments of these men, and this District? Many of us live under the premise; “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” This maxim recognizes the benefits of mutually beneficial relationships. But what is one to do when those relationships are gone, and basic trust of society is broken? Have mercy on our judgments of Your broken sons and daughters of the Great Depression, their children, and their grandchildren.
Will You forgive the “dysfunctional” portion of society its judgments of those outside the Gateway? A criminal or debaucherous subculture often makes a mockery of the culture of innocence and lawfulness. Will You forgive any defiance that took place in the geography of the Gateway District against the laws of Minnesota, and more importantly, the laws of the Only Just One?

We ask Your blessing on Minneapolis, the former grounds of Gateway Park, and the Gateway District to replace the curses we’ve sown. Will You bless those in our state experiencing poverty of mind, body, spirit, and property to turn to You for help? Will You grant the spirit of gratitude to replace the spirit of entitlement? Will You help givers to be humble? Will You help those receiving charity to give respect and honor due to those who give freely? We invite You to be the Gatekeeper of Minneapolis!

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel- not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.

Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.

Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:4-9 NIV*****

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gateway_District_(Minneapolis)
*** http://www.placeography.org/index.php/Gateway_District
**** Rosheim, David L. The Other Minneapolis or The Rise and Fall of the Gateway, The Old Minneapolis Skid Row. Maquoketa, IA: The Andromeda Press, 1978.
***** http://biblehub.com/context/proverbs/31-3.htm

Advertisements
Standard
20th Century, Americana, Architecture, Business, Energy, History, Minnesota, Uncategorized

Foshay Tower

Foshay_Tower_Poster-169x300

1929
Wilbur B. Foshay builds a 32-floor headquarters for his utilities empire in downtown Minneapolis. The Foshay Tower is the tallest building in Minnesota for half a century.
The stock market crash, scarcely a month after the tower’s dedication, puts an end to Foshay’s fortune and the giddy speculation of the 1920s. The next year, the tower is put on the auction block. There are no buyers.*

Foshay was a vigorous young man who started as a gas pipefitter and electrician. By 1916, he worked his way up to owning a public utilities holding company. (A holding company is created to buy and possess the shares of other companies, which it then controls.) *** “By 1928, he was a prosperous man, at least on paper. His company owned utilities in thirty states, the then-territory of Alaska, Canada, and Central America.” **

“Foshay built the Foshay Tower in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which opened in August 1929. In 1932 he was convicted of conducting a “pyramid scheme” with shares of his own stock. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. President Franklin Roosevelt commuted 10 years from Foshay’s sentence, but Foshay only actually served three years in Leavenworth because of “good behavior.” President Harry Truman granted Foshay a full and unconditional pardon in 1947.” ****

What do You wish to say through Foshay’s tower story, Eternal Father? Let us listen and reflect with You, and more completely know Your heart. What is it that You affirm about this man and his age, and what is it that You wish to correct?

To begin, I see a man who started simply working hard in the field he loved; providing utilities. It seems to fit his character as an entrepreneur and a man of enthusiasm. Was it this same vitality that created the conditions for his downfall?

Like Foshay, we are drawn to play to our strengths, but sometimes are blinded by our own glory. We lose our ability to harness our zeal, and do not operate with the self- control required to better use our giftings. Will You forgive Foshay the excesses of his spiritedness against Your will? Will You forgive us where we resist You today, not yielding an inch to be called out of the comforts of our best attributes if it means humbling ourselves before You or others?

Conversely, will You forgive the judgements of Foshay’s detractors? Will You forgive any jealousies of his competitors in public utilities? Will You forgive those who modeled or endorsed the corrupt practices of his “pyramid scheme”?

All of us, high to low, have fallen prey to greed at some level. Men like Foshay inflate the value of their stock, bankers and politicians hide debt by devaluing currency, and the poor commit fraud against all kinds of social services overdrawing on the charity of society. We have negated fair rules and have sought a deck stacked for us and against our neighbor; have mercy!

All of us, low to high, have taken the bait of envy. We have made ourselves look better than we really are, and have underscored the flaws of our equals to get ahead. Will You forgive us this debt to give honor back to our peers? Will You forgive our lack of gratitude for our competitors, or the awareness that You have uniquely positioned them (by Your wisdom) in our lives?

Regardless of internal motives, we acknowledge the work of Mr. Foshay, and the iconic tower still bearing his name. We are grateful that You understand us: whether we build empires with bad hearts, or have a poor work ethic with good hearts. We honor Your acceptance as the highest tower over our city. You are the Master Builder. Amen!

And then he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I’ll store all my grain and goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat drink and be merry.” ‘
But G-d said to him, ‘You fool! this very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward G-d.” ***** Luke 12:16-21 NIV

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** An excellent summary of Foshay’s life by Britt Aamodt. http://www.mnopedia.org/person/foshay-wilbur-1881-1957
*** https://www.bing.com/search?q=definition+of+holding+company&form=APMCS1&PC=APMC
**** Excerpt from the Salida, Colorado museum where Foshay palyed a key role in the Chamber of Commerce after pardon. https://salidamuseum.org/history/wibur-foshay/
***** http://biblehub.com/context/luke/12-16.htm

Standard
20th Century, Architecture, History, Intercession, Minnesota

Sullivan’s Owatonna Bank Opens

Unknown-1

1908
Master architect Louis Sullivan’s National Farmers’ Bank, perhaps the most famous small-town bank in the U.S., graces the corner of Broadway and Cedar streets in downtown Owatonna.

One of the first American architects to break free from the influence of revival styles, Louis Sullivan completed a series of eight banks in small Midwest towns during the last years of his career. The National Farmers’ Bank of Owatonna is arguably the best.*

In 1896, in an article in “Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine”, Mr. Sullivan wrote the following:
“It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human, and all things super-human, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.”

It makes me curious why an architect of his stature would embrace the job of designing a small town bank. Just look at this track record. He is called both the “father of modernism” and the “father of skyscrapers”. He is one of the triumvirate of great American architects alongside Frank Lloyd Wright and Henry Hobson Richardson.**
What would behoove him to design a small town bank in Minnesota?

A clue could be that he was considered to be a hard drinker and past his prime by the time he accepted this task. His client, Carl Bennett, had also died to his dream of being a conductor to attend family duties running the bank. Perhaps this serendipitous meeting fulfilled a need for both men to create again. It’s success does seem to be a merger of each as it is labelled as a “Symphony of Color”.***

images

Merciful Messiah, thank You for their dreams. Thank You that, though deferred, they created an everyday temple to commerce that stills sings! Thank You for positioning their relationship and life circumstances to better enable them to savor the moment.

Will You continue to bless the artist and architects of Minnesota? Will You give them the talent that bedazzles the routines of our lives? Will You give our lives form that follows function, and let us trust that that’s enough?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Sullivan
***http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/200002/28_buzenbergb_owatonna/

Standard
20th Century, Architecture, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Transportation

Aerial Bridge Completed

aerialbridge1

Mar 24, 1905
The Aerial Bridge is completed in Duluth. The bridge permits land traffic to cross the ship canal without interfering with the ships that pass in and out of the harbor. A lift bridge replaces the aerial system in 1930.*

Aerial Bridge in Duluth began as a transporter bridge. Imagine an arch or high structure that spans a harbor that a segment of the bridge is suspended from on rails. Traffic boards on one side, and this segment of bridge rolls across to the other. When the segment reaches its destination, about 2/3rds of the channel is left open for harbor traffic. Quite ingenious!

Thank You for the mind of Thomas F. Mc Gilvray. How much pleasure You must take in the soul of an architect! A character that both delights in the disciplines of education, and in the revelation of beauty wherever it may be found or felt! A massive steel bulwark spanning a harbor may not immediately bring to mind the word ’beautiful’. Yet, to the residents needing to cross the harbor, it was tremendously useful. Is there a word for ‘useful beauty’? I’m sure there is in Your vocabulary, and that is what I praise You for today!

Furthermore, thank you for the means to connect cultures! In this context, the physical barrier of the harbor could make it difficult for one to know and trade with neighbors just across the water. Thank you that this physical structure opened the doors of residents of Superior, WI. and Duluth, MN. to know each other, as well as the myriad of cultures of sailors from around the world. Will You bless this moment of March 24, 1905, and create a perpetual heritage of blessing in this Harbor? As You have promised…”the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:8 NIV
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transporter_bridge

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

 

Standard
20th Century, Architecture, Environment, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Natural Disaster, Transportation, Weather

High Bridge Blown Down

Unknown

Aug 20, 1904
A tornado traveling through Waconia, Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Stillwater leaves fourteen people dead and causes property losses of $1.5 million. The same storm blows down the High Bridge in Saint Paul, where winds reach 110 miles per hour, the fastest recorded wind speed in the metropolitan area at the time. The storm also has the lowest measured barometric pressure (23 inches) of any tornado, according to Snowden Dwight Flora, author of Tornadoes of the United States.*

Every decision has a consequence. As the ancient prophet Hosea once said, ‘those who sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind’. But how did regular citizens of these cities ‘sow the wind’? Did they, or was this storm just a normal occurrence that is necessary to the health of the atmosphere and environment?
This I know of human nature, when tragedy strikes, many will attempt to deflect the awfulness of the event through blame. We don’t have the inner mechanisms to deal with great pain, and so we often try to externalize it. Psychologists call this process transference.

Unknown-1

Lord, what were the objects of transference in this event? Let me start with how we blame You, after all, this is an ‘act of God’. Will You forgive any residents of Waconia, St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Stillwater who placed the blame for this event on You? Will You forgive any judgments made on Your character? Will You forgive those who viewed this storm as an offense against them in person and property, and in turn held a grudge against you?
Lord, we blame others! For example, “The High Bridge wouldn’t fall if it was designed better? The engineers and architects are to blame!” For the folks of these cities that fall into this category; will You forgive them those judgments of others?
Will You forgive our bifurcated motives? On one hand we love technology. We love what is new, innovative, and ground-breaking. Simultaneously, we cling to the familiar, and many of us have deep-rooted skepticism of new ideas. Will You forgive the judgments made of those who offer us new ideas? Will You forgive the wrath felt by those who dreamt, designed, labored, and finished this High Bridge?
Will You forgive those who blamed themselves for this hardship? We place ourselves on trial in the courts of minds and give harsh sentences for imperfections. Will You forgive those who blamed themselves for lost crops, fallen barns, loss of horses and animals, and loss of human life?
Lord, You are just. You are truly the only right judge because You know our heart, our history, our thoughts, our motives, and our actions. Yet, You are merciful to us, and often reveal the fragility of our inner life and its immaturity in the most gentle and gracious way possible.
You are a good dad. We do not criticize our toddlers when they make a bridge with blocks and it crashes. We praise them, and encourage their imaginations. Will You make us a people that loves valiant failures and Pyrrhic victories as much as you do?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

Standard
19th Century, Architecture, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, State Government

Capitol Construction 1898

mn-capitol4

Alexander Ramsey, the 83-year-old first territorial governor of Minnesota, lays the cornerstone of the new state capitol. The building is completed after eight years of construction and a cost of $4.5 million. It is occupied in 1905.

The building has been designed by local-architect-made-good Cass Gilbert, who also laid out the U of M campus and will draw up tall buildings in New York City.*

Capitol buildings are symbols. They are designed for utility, but also to exude the authority and permanence of the state, the government, and the people they represent. Gilbert saw us as inheritor’s of Greek and Roman forms of representational government, and designed a capitol that reflected those influences.

It is easy to imagine that the farmers and loggers looked up and wondered, “What does all that marble have to do with lumber? The rotunda looks like a grain silo, but nothing is in it!?!” ‘Permanence’ to Gilbert may have looked like ‘opulence’ to citizens of the North Star state. Most were still recovering from the Panic of 1893.

“The Panic of 1893 was a serious economic depression in the United States that began in 1893.[1] Similar to the Panic of 1873, it was marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding and shaky railroad financing, resulting in a series of bank failures. Compounding market overbuilding and the railroad bubble was a run on the gold supply. The Panic of ’93 was the worst economic depression the United States had ever experienced at the time.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panic_of_1893

In any regard, Lord, will You honor the heart of the architect Gilbert? Will You bless those Minnesotans’ who follow in his passion for designing our buildings and structures? Will You bless the workmen who provided their excellent labor and skill to create such a building?

Lord, will You forgive any judgments of the cost of the building during a time of economic struggle? Will You forgive the politicians’ their excesses and pride in their workplace? Like the silo analogy, will You fill the rotunda with Your substance and vision, and not just a grandiose view?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**Delve into the life of Cass Gilbert. http://www.cassgilbertsociety.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard
19th Century, Architecture, Business, History, Intercession, Jesus, Labor, Minnesota

James J. Hill House Completed

unknown

1891
Rugged stone, massive scale, fine detail, and ingenious mechanical systems recall the powerful presence of James J. Hill, builder of the Great Northern Railway. Completed in 1891, the red sandstone residence was the setting of the public and private lives of the Hill family.*

Lord, what is the importance of home construction in Your economy? Albeit this is an impressive home, but why does it matter now? Will You guide my heart and mind toward Your thoughts on the matter?

Commencement thought; our home reflects our character. Mr. Hill spent much his life on the epic tasks of building a railway. His home reflects a willingness to solve difficult problems: custom shaping stones, miles of board feet of trim, and making a castle comfortable enough to live in Minnesota’s weather extremes.

So I want to bless the heritage of Mr. Hill’s patience, long-range planning, and tenacity to face both expected and unexpected problems.I want to bless the myriad of workmen who truly put their sweat and soul into their trades to make this home exceptional. Will You bless them and all their generations of tradesmen in the present? Will You help us view the trades as an act of worship?

I’m reminded that my Messiah chose to be a carpenter, and apprenticed under His earthly father. (Joseph) Will You help us, especially men, see that worship is not just obscure and ancient songs and rituals in a church, but in fitting pipes, framing walls, running electrical lines, and every kind of working with our hands? May all who labor in skills that go unseen and unnoticed be blessed this day in Jesus’ name! May You honor those who silently honor You!

Another idea that attaches to character; we can build to serve a function, or build to impress others. Lord, I will not condemn this man for the pursuit of greatness. I think You get the credit when we succeed at exceptional endeavours, I think a fractal of the light of Your character shines through any human who dares to do what they love.

But Lord hear this prayer, our lives are often like homes! We build for ‘curb appeal’. We erect lovely facades. We spend considerable time and effort on the way things look to the detriment of the way things are. We already possess the favor of the King of the Universe, but how we work for the favor of our fellow human beings?!

Will You forgive James J. Hill the past sins of empire building? Will You release his heritage, our state, and even the ground that those objects of empire occupy from separations past, present, and future? Will You forgive us for the empire building in our hearts? Will You forgive us for maintaining facades we build to our own greatness? Will You help us humbly acknowledge the efforts others have spent in our successes? Father, have mercy! Christ, have mercy! Counselor, have mercy!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

Standard