Saturday, May 5, 2012
Long, But Probably Not Winding
It's post #110, so that means it's landmark time. As seems to be a pattern, we're straying a bit from from paint-on-brick advertising to get one. This one's full name is the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Depot Freight House and Train Station. Or at least that used to be it's official name, after the railroads that used it. Anyway, I've never heard anyone call it anything except the Milwaukee Road Depot, or just the Depot.
Trains rumbled to a stop at this spot dating back to the old Minnesota Central railroad in the mid-1860s. According to Wikipedia, the "first depot" was built here in 1879, Italianate style. I'm not sure whether that means that for the roughly 13 years prior existence folks just had jump off the moving train as it went by, or if it means the line was only extended to here a little more than a decade before it's start.
Anyway, that original depot was torn down and replaced with the current one in 1899.
Perhaps you've not heard, but passenger rail had a bit of a decline, and freight rain struggled and consolidated elsewhere. The Deport stopped functioning in that capacity in 1971 and sat vacant for a long time as folks tried to figure out what to do with it.
The city bought the property in the early 1990s, as described in this wonderful old report from WCCO TV. As the mustachioed gentleman predicted in his interview, the place was used as a home for the Minneapolis Farmers Market before being renovated in earnest. Today the old depot is a hotel (you can see the word Renaissance below the original signage if you look closely) and the old train shed, still among the longest survivors of it's kind, is an indoor ice rink. .
For a bit of 1950s jingle fun, check out this song written for Milwaukee Road's 100 birthday. You'll not be surprised that the Historical Society has quite a few images. I'll just point out out a few. In 1948, there were different signs for different railroads. The trains of 1950 were a bit steamy and maybe wet. I would not have wanted to work in the yard in the winter in 1951, and definitely not in icy 1952, or any time for that matter. You can see one of our previously featured landmarks in the background of this shot of a derailed passenger train in 1953. Despite all the steam, snow and derailment, this fashionable duo in 1954 seem downright enthusiastic about arriving.
Finally, you might recognize the apartment building in the background from it's appearance as Charlize Theron's Minneapolis home in dark comedy, Young Adult.