20th Century, Architecture, History, Uncategorized

Skyway System Begins

Construction of the Skyway in Minneapolis, Minnesota – 1962. u/mrhistoricalmaniac. https://www.reddit.com/r/minnesota/comments/ihsla5/construction_of_the_skyway_in_minneapolis/

1962
The first Minneapolis skyway is built, linking the Cargill and Roanoke buildings across 7th Street. Eventually, a system of 50 skyways turns much of the downtown area into an enclosed city within a city.*

When futuristic, climate-controlled Southdale Mall opened in 1956, the downtown real estate developers saw “the writing on the wall”, or rather the writing in the sky. Single connections between buildings above ground already had the example of the 17th floor connection between the Merchants Bank and the First National Bank circa 1931 in Saint Paul, MN. ** Architect David Griswold brought that idea down to the 2nd floor, bringing the idea of an interconnected city to a more repeatable and feasible level.

The following synopsis of Griswold’s achievement has recorded by mid-century real estate experts at TCModern.
“It was a simply designed, convenient way to get to the Golden Rule shopping store on (then) Eighth Street (now Seventh Place) and Minnesota street from their parking lot across the street. It was a very basic, crude structure, measuring roughly 8 feet wide with a concrete floor over a metal deck. It also didn’t have heating or air conditioning. It was however a very convenient way to get to and from the store without having to navigate through (at the time) one of the busiest intersections of both trolley lines and pedestrians in the city.” * Following suite to modernize downtown Minneapolis, real estate heavyweight Leslie Parker tapped Minnesota architect Ed Baker to design the first branch of its soon-to-be skyway system ca. 1959. This branch opened in 1962 connecting the Cargill and Roanoke buildings.** (Northstar Center and Northwestern National Bank) Mr. Baker’s design improved upon Griswold’s in its aesthetics and climate-controlled environment. *
Fueled by this success, Parker championed adding more branches in downtown Minneapolis. Within it’s first decade, Parker had built a bridge between Ed Baker and Phillip Glass in the design of the show stopping IDS Center. Moreover, it’s new Crystal Court become the hub connecting beaches of the skyway on all four sides in a dazzling, all-season semi-public space. ****

Though critics have decried the development as the demise of street life, time has shown that this may be a partial truth. Granted, the skyway system grew to encompass 80 city blocks and about 8 miles of connections. Acknowledged, this second-story system competes with street level development, making an indoor or outdoor walk a choice. As early as 1972, city officials and developers noted that this choice also doubled the options for walk-up traffic to small businesses, and raised the price of second floor rents. In the bi-polar environment of the Twin Cities, perhaps, two stories are better than one? *****

Developer of the Cosmos, let me come and join You in Your eternal “right now”. Can I sit by Your fire, and take a load off? Can we chat about this creative moment in the life of Minneapolis? On second thought, I will remain quiet and hear Your thoughts as You are the only Architect and Builder of life in this universe.

The foundation of this time is remembrance, so I remember these specific names to You. Thank You for the imagination of developer Leslie Parker. I won’t judge the motives of his heart, that’s Your job, but I am grateful for a human being that wanted downtown to remain relevant.

By the same token, let’s remember the names of Ed Baker and David Griswold. There is so much about architecture that is an Imitation of Our Father! One must be aware of history, art, aesthetics, engineering, mathematics, and materials to create relevant structures. We thank You for the insights, discipline, and positioning of these men to create these skyways at just the right time.

Additionally, we thank You for the jobs created in all the trades necessary to actualize these visions: steelworkers, riggers, crane operators, to name but a few. We are grateful for the nearly doubling of walkable areas downtown, and the small businesses supported by this foot traffic. It’s a good thing to add the notion of “third spaces” to a growing city. Thank you for these insights!

We have judged the skyways and their creators: in their beauty or lack of it, in utility for downtown renters, as advantageous to major and minor downtown businesses, and in a means of isolating the business class from the urban street level. Will You forgive us in our criticisms in this era of 1962 and through to the present?

Will You forgive our judgment of another’s sense of aesthetics? Will You forgive our judgments of the skyways in relation to downtown residences? Why is it our business if someone else wants to have their home interconnected with and 80 block grid? We have exuded envy that our major or minor workplaces have too little or too much access due to the skyway system, and broken Your command not to covet. Will You forgive us?

Lastly, some of us have judged that this system is inherently classist because it is not entirely public. Conversely, protagonists of the Skyway believe their rights allow them to choose between maintaining privacy, semi-public, or completely public access to the property they own. Will You stand between these parties and help them understand each other, even if they never agree?

In the present, our significant forces in urban planning and city government have suggested removing the skyway system because it only functions for those with access to the system, dear One. This notion makes us think about the wisdom of Solomon in solving his contemporary urban issues in 970-931BCE.

“At that time two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him.
One woman said, “Please, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house, and I gave birth while she was in the house. On the third day after I gave birth, this woman also had a baby. We were alone, with no one in the house but the two of us. During the night this woman’s son died because she rolled over on him. So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I was asleep. She laid him in her bosom and put her dead son at my bosom. The next morning, when I got up to nurse my son, I discovered he was dead. But when I examined him, I realized that he was not the son I had borne.”
“No,” said the other woman, “the living one is my son and the dead one is your son.”
But the first woman insisted, “No, the dead one is yours and the living one is mine.” So they argued before the king.
Then the king replied, “This woman says, ‘My son is alive and yours is dead,’ but that woman says, ‘No, your son is dead and mine is alive.’ ”
The king continued, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought him a sword, 25and the king declared, “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.”
Then the woman whose son was alive spoke to the king because she yearned with compassion for her son. “Please, my lord,” she said, “give her the living baby. Do not kill him!”
But the other woman said, “He will be neither mine nor yours. Cut him in two!”
Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. By no means should you kill him; she is his mother.”
When all Israel heard of the judgment the king had given, they stood in awe of him, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.”

Will You impart mercy, clarity of understanding, and wisdom of the proponents and opponents of the Skyways? Will You take these bitter roots: up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ? May our love for our city cause us to yield to each other rather than extinguish the life that remains! Amen.

P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
** https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/first-national-bank-building-skyway
*** http://tcmodern.com/who-was-first-minneapolis-v-s-st-paul-skyway-system/
**** https://frankedgertonmartin.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/the-great-skyway-indoors-in-minneapolis/
***** Nathanson, Iric. Internet. “Minneapolis Skyways”. MNopedia. December 31,2013. https://www.mnopedia.org/structure/minneapolis-skyways
****** Read this wonderful story in full. Kaufman, Sam H . The Skyway Cities. Minneapolis: CSPI, 1985.

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ekklesia, justice, omnipresent history, worship

Can I get a howl?

A vintage Golden Eagle microphone circa late 1960’s

Let’s begin this transmission with a message broadcast by an author, Qoheleth, likely King Solomon roughly 2400 yrs ago. (One could say it’s a “Golden Oldie”!) This king is alleged to be the wisest human being of all time. We’ll roll this pre-recorded interview for your listening pleasure! Enjoy!

DJ: Qoheleth, is that you?

Q: It is I.

DJ: The people of the future have a pressing question for Your Majesty, are you willing to oblige them.

Q: I am.

DJ: King, live forever! Forgive my many words, but I must explain the backstory of my question because it is from the future.

Q: You may proceed.

DJ: The year is 2020 AD, and it is unlike any before it because the entire world is cowering before a pandemic. Earth’s people are largely shuttered. Their governors’ are practicing a form of soft monocracy; simultaneously shuttering millions of humans from: buying, selling, working indoors, working outdoors, play and recreation outdoors and on the seas, and even closing the doors of their temples forbidding the worship at Passover.

There are many chasms of ethnic strife. There are peaceful protests in the streets as well as fires of insurrection. Instead of solving these problems, face to face, all this melisma and cacophony is filtered through a device known as a computer. This device is neither good nor bad, but is as useful or harmful as its user or programmer. (One who instructs it what to do.)

Natural relationships are disrupted. Children do not know play. There is fear, suspicion, and distrust in those who were comrades and neighbors only months before! People see things going the wrong way, but do not know how to effect change.

Allow me to illustrate further, O King? These peoples have a tradition and a high holy day where they express gratitude; to each other, to their families, to the Most High. Many are forbidden this practice! Even more are disallowed to eat a meal in their own homes, “for their own good”, by their satraps, rector provinciae, governors, and proconsuls. These leaders mesmerize the people with trading liberty for the temporal illusion of security against this omnipresent pandemic.

What say you Qoheleth? What wisdom will you convey to us from Adonai?

Qoheleth:

“1There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—

2A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.

3A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.

4A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.

5A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.

6A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.

7A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.

8A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.”

End of show.

Friends, I am first a man of prayer. I only wish to engage the political culture of this world when it steps on the Laws of Nature, and Nature’s G-d. It is time to raise our voices. It is time to write. It is time to give voice to oppose those who would stifle our humanity; even our expressions of gratitude in the dangerous act of sharing a Thanksgiving meal?!?

Turn your radio on. Time to get on the mic!

*https://zondervanacademic.com/blog/who-wrote-ecclesiastes-and-what-does-it-mean

** If you wish to contact the governor of Minnesota. https://mn.gov/governor/contact/

***If you wish to contact your U.S. House Representative. https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

****If you wish to contact your U.S. Senator. https://www.senate.gov/senators/

*****If you wish to contact your President.https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

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20th Century, Environment, History, Intercession, Minnesota, Uncategorized, Weather

Tornado Kills 11 in Mankato

M.17.F.3.A Packet 113

August 15, 1946
A tornado kills eleven and injures sixty individuals in Mankato and North Mankato, and a second tornado injures 200 people in Wells an hour later.*

A little know fact about the United States is its distinction of the greatest volume of tornadoes on the planet, and also the most severe. June and August, historically, are the worst months for the Midwest and Southern Canada. During this season, the animus for these storms are humid warm fronts from the Gulf of Mexico mingling with colder and drier ones from the Rockies. Minnesota is situated on the northern edge of this region infamously known as Tornado Alley. ***

The twister that struck Mankato, North Mankato, and Wells on this day apparently only lasted for a “couple minutes”. Most trees were leveled, and those left standing were stripped bare like telephone poles. Cars parked in the town were blown roughly 50 yards into the ravine of the railway. Even a 27 ton grader blew into this gorge, and the whole tangled mess stopped rail traffic. ****

An anomaly of any tornadic system is the randomness of its damage, and this storm in 1946 was no different. For example, a prominent structure downtown, the Oran building, was totaled, but those attending a birthday party there, remarkably, all escaped injury. Conversely, the Melvin family turkey farm lost 4,000 birds. The body of a Mr. Wirig of Mankato was found over a half mile from where the storm hit his resort cabin. ****

According to the testimony of first responder Donald Wold, he hadn’t seen “anything like this since I fought the Germans in France”, and “people were lying everywhere”. Scrambling to accommodate the injured, a bread truck driver used its racks to haul 7 people to the hospital in Mankato. Two alert utility workmen shut the power grid down, and were later credited with saving many structures from electrical fires.*****

Those involved in the clean-up demonstrated resolve and resourcefulness typical of Minnesotan’s. Area small towns sent anyone who could help out. Local farmers used their tractors to “push and pull” as needed. The cities of Faribault and Blue Earth sent their street departments and highway construction departments to clear debris and begin the rebuild.******

Lord, we thank You for the light and dark of this event. You are Master of our Environment. You ordain and use weather according to Your purposes and the survival of the planet. You are Master of the soothing summer breeze in Honiara, the Arabian sirocco, the Scottish snell, the icy gales of Everest, and this Midwestern tornado of Mankato. Will You give us insight, Dear One, we struggle to comprehend the good You intend?

Forgive the judgments made against You in the aftermath of this storm. Will You specifically release those from Mankato, North Mankato, and Wells whose responses may have offended You? Will You forgive those who may have clung to their pain unable to look up? We can’t see Your purpose when a human body is flown a half mile in the wind. We fail to grasp the utility of the uneven attack of this storm; why does one family lose its’ flocks while another cheats death?

This prayer moves us to ponder the cries of the qoheleth, most likely written by King Solomon who was reputed to be the wisest man who ever lived.
“Meaningless! Meaningless! says the Teacher. Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless. What does a man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?” Ecclesiastes 1:2,3 NIV *******
Later, Solomon adds an insight into the relationship we have with our planet.
“Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.” Ecclesiastes 1:4 NIV *******
He described the limits of human understanding nine times in his book as a “chasing after the wind”.

At first glance, this may seem one of the most hopeless books ever written. It is even darker because of the amazing learning and success of Solomon. “If the man who has it all can’t be happy”, one wonders, “who can”?

Yet he leads us to a clue in his phrases. Everything under the sun is meaningless, and a chasing after the wind. But what exists above the sun? What is unlimited by the laws of nature and the universe, but its Creator?

So we invite You into this tragedy past. Bring Your meaning. Bring Your life. We did not yet understand You on August 15, 1946, nor do we grasp the depth of Your purpose now. Come and bless Minnesota with Your Presence; may we sense that which is beyond our senses, and accept that there is more than than right now. May we stop “chasing after the wind”, look up, and find Eternal Wisdom after the storm!

* 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!
** “Aftermath of the August 17, 1946 tornado in Mankato, Minnesota.”
http://collections.mnhs.org/cms/largerimage.php?irn=10291189&catirn=11126964
*** https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/climate/summaries_and_publications/tornadoes.html
**** Beitler, Stu. “The Evening Tribune”. Albert Lea, Minnesota. 1946-08-19 pg1 http://www.gendisasters.com/minnesota/18697/mankato-wells-mn-tornado-aug-1946?page=0%2C3
***** Beitler, Stu. “The La Crosse Tribune” Wisconsin. 1946-08-18 pg1 http://www.gendisasters.com/minnesota/18697/mankato-wells-mn-tornado-aug-1946
****** Beitler, Stu. “The Evening Tribune”. Albert Lea, Minnesota. 1946-08-19 pg3 http://www.gendisasters.com/minnesota/18697/mankato-wells-mn-tornado-aug-1946?page=0%2C3
******* https://biblehub.com/ecclesiastes/1-2.htm

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