View from the Top

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From the roof of the parking garage adjacent to US Bank Stadium, you can see part of the Minneapolis skyline. These skyscrapers, such as Capella Tower, are hubs of economic activity, home to major businesses and investors’ offices. Their striking exteriors are a reflection of the wealth and influence contained within them.

The Sun Strikes Spoonbridge and Cherry

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As the sun set over the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, it reflected off Spoonbridge and Cherry. This image, coupled with the visitors meandering through the garden, was a peaceful conclusion to my fieldwork for the day. In this moment, I recognized the value of incorporating relaxing gathering spaces, like this one, within busy urban settings.

Bob Dylan: Urban Geographer?

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During my journey along the Green Line, I couldn’t help but notice Bob Dylan’s rather inquisitive stare here at the corner of 5th and Hennepin. It reminded me of the expression that shows up on my face when I search the landscape for clues about social patterns (and good photo opportunities). Perhaps he is conducting his own analysis of the geography of downtown Minneapolis?

The Basilica of St. Mary

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The Basilica of St. Mary was, according to their website, the first basilica established in the United States. Featuring impressive Beaux–Arts architecture and a dome that reaches toward the heavens, this structure is clearly designed to inspire reverence for the message of Christianity. Regardless of one’s faith, it is impossible to overlook the beauty and sheer size of the building when scanning the landscape.

Carleton Place Lofts

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The Carleton Place Lofts are affordable apartment units that cater specifically to artists. Given that the building is located in the designated “Creative Enterprise Zone,” it clearly functions as part of a larger scheme to attract artistic talent to the area. A rise in arts–related activities will subsequently bring about a rise in the fortunes of University Avenue as a whole––or at least, this is the desired outcome of the growth machine–based plan to revitalize this part of the city.

St. Paul Public Library, Lexington Branch (R.I.P.)

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The Lexington Branch of the St. Paul Public Library is now defunct, having been replaced by the Rondo Community Library at 461 N. Dale. I am uncertain as to what the future of this building is, but I imagine that, at some time in the near future, it will receive investment and gain a new purpose, perhaps as a business, a housing site, or a social services center, depending on which circuit of capital comes into play at this location.

661 LaSalle at Raymond Station

IMG_5842.JPGAn advertisement for the 661 LaSalle building, highlighting transit–oriented development (“One block from the Raymond Station light rail”), the concept of the creative enterprise zone, and the vibrancy of the surrounding business community. Few elements of the landscape make such explicit mention of the specific growth machine–based efforts to revitalize the area around University Avenue. This ad conveys an optimistic attitude of economic renewal to onlookers.

The Victoria Theater

IMG_5812.JPGThe facade of the building I chose for Project 2, The Victoria Theater, situated at 825 University Avenue. This Beaux–Arts structure was built in 1915, originally serving as a silent movie theater. In the 1920s, it became a speakeasy. From the ’30s through the ’90s, it functioned as a light fixture store, before becoming vacant. Since 2014, however, a coalition of artists, working in conjunction with St. Paul politicians, have been rallying to renovate the building and turn it into a community venue, which would be known as the Victoria Theater Arts Center. With any luck, the building shall soon undergo this transformation and gain a renewed purpose, ideally bringing more foot traffic to the corridor along the Green Line.

St. Paul Avenue Home

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This photo contains some of the features that indicate the phase of urban development to which St. Paul Avenue belongs. Architecturally speaking, the house is horizontally–oriented, with a low–pitched roof and a cinder block foundation. I would classify it as a Ranch, or at least “Ranch–esque” style building. There is a decent amount of lawn space out front, alongside a long driveway leading up to the garage. Both the structure of the home and the presence of the automobile help to answer the question of, “What time is this place?” Following these visual cues, in conjunction with the curvilinear orientation of the surrounding streets, I am inclined to believe that St. Paul Avenue is representative of the metropolitan sprawl phase.

The House of Hope Presbyterian Church

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An impressive church with Gothic Revival style architecture on Summit Avenue. According to a descriptive sign on the front lawn, the building was completed in 1914. The church allows observers to read the landscape through a social lens, since its presence is an indication of the religious traditions that members of the surrounding community uphold.