Monday, February 20, 2012

They Could Make A Movie (Probably Called "Madison")

Try control your excitement, people.  I know you never believed we'd get here.  I know this blog has exceeded your expectations in every way, and now, well, now we've finally made it.  That's right.  We made it to post #100.  Who knew there were that many signs to talk about?

So, as it's a nice, round number, we need a landmark.  I've saved a good one.  Okay, so it's not paint on brick, so maybe it doesn't fit exactly (hmm... maybe that says something about how we got here), but it is significant.  It's the building that defined the Minneapolis skyline for years.  If memory serves, it was long the tallest building in Minneapolis.

The Foshay has a bit of a dramatic history.  It was completed in 1929 just a few months before the big stock market crash.  It was the brainchild of Wilbur Foshay, who got rich buying utility companies and planned to move into a multi-level suite at the top of the building.  The building opened to a lavish dedication and featured John Phillip Sousa conducting a specially-commissioned march.  Each guest got a gold watch.  Splendor abounded.

There was only one problem.  Old Wilbur had a secret and, like Bernie Madoff, the onset of the Great Depression exposed him.  His empire collapsed, he never moved into his new home, and the check he used to pay Sousa bounced.  Wilbur was accused of running a Ponzi scheme and charged with fraud.  His first trial ended in a mistrial after one juror, Genevieve Clark, held out for his innocence.  He was convicted and sentenced to 15 years the second time around.

Only later was it discovered the Mrs. Clark's husband knew and had business dealings with Wilbur.  Rather than face obstruction of justice charges, she and her family fled.  The Clarks and their two children were later found dead from intentional carbon monoxide poisoning.

Things are a bit happier in the Foshay these days.  The tower is taken up by the W Hotel and the two-story commercial space at the base houses Manny's, arguably the best steakhouse in town, and Key's, one of the better places for brunch and/or pie.

Even more fitting, the Foshay is framed here by the IDS Center, which replaced it as the tallest building in town in 1972 and the Well Fargo Center (originally, the Norwest Center, and before that the one with the weather ball), built to be technically just shorter than IDS out of Minnesota nice or something.

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