Hennepin Avenue: The original historic urban street in Minneapolis

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  • 8/13/2019 Hennepin Avenue: The original historic urban street in Minneapolis

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    Christian Huelsman

    Hennepin AvenueThe original historic urban street in Minneapolis

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    Midwest Regional Context

    Study Area Urban Context

    1903 Plat Map

    The Hennepin Avenue study area(shown in blue) now exists in the

    northwestern corner of downtown.It is flanked on three sides by

    Interstate freeways. Its originaland natural edge, the Mississippi,

    remains relatively unchangedsince the inception of the corridor.

    The study area can be found in

    Minneapolis, Minnesota, nearly425 miles northwest of Chicagoby freeway, and 275 miles fromMadison, Wisconsin.

    It is accessible from St. Paul,Minnesota within ten miles.

    FOCUS> Gateway Districtbetween 1st + 5th Street South

    > East Warehouse Districtbetween 5th + 7th Streets South

    > Theater Districtbetween 7th + 10th Streets South

    Hennepin Avenue: Regional Context

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    Original 1854 Plan

    1903 Plat Map

    Hennepin Avenue was the original commercialcenter of Minneapolis. Charles W. Christmas, thefirst surveyor of Hennepin County, oriented lots toface inward on Hennepin, as well as the first threeblocks from the Mississippi on Nicollet Street.

    In 1854, only Hennepin Avenue and WashingtonAvenue had 100 foot rights-of-way, while all otherstreets maintained 80 feet.

    The historic street grid has beenleft largely intact throughout the

    Hennepin corridor. Notablechanges include connections

    between both sides of 9th Street,including a connection at 10th Street.

    By 1903, dense commercial developmentdominated Hennepin and adjacent streets,

    as far southwest as 5th Street South,but followed Hennepin as far

    as 9th Street South.

    N

    10th Street South

    1st Street South

    STUDYAREA

    The prominent orientation of Hennepin Avenue

    FOCUSq Gateway District1st St to 5th St

    r East Warehouse District5th St to 7th St

    sTheater District7th St to 10th St

    q

    r

    s

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    Gateway District

    Old City HallNicollet HotelBridge Square

    Landmarksof interest

    nn

    n

    n

    The original site of Minneapolis City Hallwas known as Bridge Square, due to its

    proximity to the nearby bridge over theMississippi. The focus of the original cityplan and development of the civic centerreinforced development, as did the city

    streetcar, first operational fromHennepin to the state university, via

    the bridge north to University Avenue.Proximity to the regional freight hubspurred rapid economic growth -- soquickly that a larger city hall and

    courthouse was built five blocks eastand two blocks south to Fifth St/2nd

    Ave S. Upon completion, the old sitewas razed for a park. and the areawas rebranded as the GatewayDistrict, to further development.

    Hennepin Avenues changing role in urban life

    Stage One: 1873-1912

    1886 1906 1912

    Stage Two: 1930s-1961

    As soon as the 1930s, the GatewayDistrict had already failed, at least in theeyes of city officials. The square had

    become the place to find liquor stores,

    flophouses, and plenty of blue-collarpoor. However, the building stock hadremained largely untampered. The

    1950s brought proposals to raze the

    oldest areas of downtown -- 20 blockstotal. The Gateway District becamean expansive plain of parking, save

    for low-density corporate development.

    1952 1961

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    1948

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    East Warehouse District: 5th + 6th Street South

    The 500 and 600 blocks of HennepinAvenue have undergone, perhaps, the

    most extensive metamorphosis, as canbe seen later. In 1889, however, theMasonic Building can be seen withsingle-family detached homes.

    The Masonic Building was eventuallymatched by the Plymouth Building,

    directly across Hennepin Avenue.Retail on the 600 Block, however,remained single-story and devoidof any imaginative ornamentation.

    As vaudeville and motion picturetheaters became increasingly popular,

    higher density commercial buildingstook the place of wood framedretail. A boom economy brought aconstruction boom all along Hennepin.

    Hennepin Avenues changing role in urban life

    1880s-1920s: Densification

    1930s-1960s: Decline and Segmentation

    1889 1916

    It appears as though the two nearestbuildings suffered from the Depression.Upper floors are masked by adverts,

    storefronts are barren, and cars are few.

    Additional signage appears to havebeen erected, following World War II.The structure beyond the Masonic

    Building was razed by the mid-1940s.

    The others were razed by themid-1940s, and replaced by parkinglots and a modern office building.

    The 600 Block, however, remained.

    1936 1948

    Masonic TemplePlymouth BldgBlock E

    Landmarksof interest

    1961

    1926

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    Theatre District: 8th + 9th Streets South

    Orpheum TheatreGopher TheatreState Theatre

    n

    n

    n

    Landmarksof interest

    The Hennepin Theatre District is now anon-profit consortium of performance

    theater operators, but it was once arapidly changing assortment of first-runand second-run spaces. In 1908, theOrpheum had not yet been built, but

    uniform street lights led up to the 900block. As the heyday of theaters,

    streetcars, and automobiles coincided,development in the district flourished.Ornamentation remained constant butsignage created more visual clutter.

    By the 1950s, automobiles competedwith streetcars for space. Streetlights

    were replaced sometime after WWII.Structures along the district remainedmostly unchanged. Adverts becameever more prominent.

    Hennepin Avenues changing role in urban life

    1954-2007: Decline and Rebirth

    1908 1926

    By the mid-1950s, theater marqueeseither disappeared or were altered.Street lighting took a contemporary

    approach. The most apparent change

    was the removal of the streetcar line,enabling two full traffic lanes. Boththe State and Gopher Theatre

    marquees filled out the southeast side

    of the block. Due to a decline in smallstreet theaters in the late 1970s, manywere shuttered and repurposed. Many

    buildings were altered but remain.

    1957 1961 2007

    1951

    1900-1954: District Development

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    A.M. Smiths 1891 Birds Eye View MapChanging connections and transit options

    Twin Cities Rapid Transit (1891)

    Streetcar along study area

    Connections from Hennepin

    Gateway District (1st - 5th St)

    Warehouse District (5th - 7th St)

    Theater District (7th - 10th St)

    L

    L

    LL

    L

    By 1948, streetcar lines at Marquetteand 2nd Avenues make travel easier todestinations across the river. Both a busroute and a streetcar line on Nicolletand Marquette Avenues served St. Pauland suburbs via service to Hennepin.

    Since the 1909 relocation of City Hall,the commerce center of Minneapoliswas reborn between 2nd andMarquette Avenues.

    Observations

    + Original trolley connections to Hennepin, paired

    with the alteration of the street grid at 10th

    Street, seem to have created district boundaries

    and magnets for redevelopment over time.

    +

    +

    The multiplier effect that transit junctions played

    along Hennepin appeared to spread to the

    southeast, as the commerce center shifted.

    Lines in 1891 and 1948 seemed to dictate

    development, not conversely.

    WashingtonAve

    ThirdStreet

    SixthStreet Seven

    thStr

    eet

    Transportation metamorphosis on Hennepin

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    Learning from a complete eraFuture districts imitate + exceed yesteryear

    (1st - 5th St)

    (5th - 7th St)

    (7th - 10th St)

    L

    L

    GATEWAYDISTRICT

    DISTRICT

    DISTRICT

    WAREHOUSE

    THEATER

    #

    #

    #

    L

    L

    ; ; ;;

    oneway

    oneway

    oneway

    busonlybikes

    ; ;;

    parking

    safety

    zone

    1990s -- 20111890s-1954Multi-modal Street Orientation

    Twin Cities Rapid Transit (1891)Streetcar along study area

    Connections from HennepinL

    Provisions for streetcars

    once limited cars. By the

    1990s, multiple modes

    shared Hennepin Avenue.

    However, in 2012, the

    street returns to two-way.

    ; ; ;;;

    busonly

    oneway

    oneway

    busonly

    b

    ikes;

    bikes

    2012 - beyond

    1920

    1920

    1920

    Streets accommodating current modesLimited gaps between building fabricConnectivity with other districts

    Key qualities

    The city reinvented the Gateway

    but lacks walkability and, thus,

    a connection to the riverfront.

    Encouraging on-street parking

    may encourage pedestrian

    activity. However, the current

    environment is neither

    walkable nor perceviably public.

    The newer Block E development

    replaced a full city block of

    individually wrapped storefronts.

    The urban mall already suffers

    from store closures, and willcontinue to experience this.

    The street encourages

    walkability, but the stores

    are shielded indoors.

    The theater district remains

    largely intact but feels a

    visual threat from towers

    to the east. The new

    Target Field baseball stadium,

    located to the west, may

    offer some rejuvenation,but careful integration will

    be key to ensure new life.

    2011

    2011

    2011

    Benchmarking to complete Hennepin

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