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

Unemployment and the Gateway District

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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

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

Foshay Tower

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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

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