The Metropolitan: A Lost Landmark

The Metropolitan was an architecturally significant building located in Minneapolis, Minnesota built by E. Townsend Mix .A  It was built in 1890 and torn down in 1961.A  It was 12 stories high and known as the city’s very first skyscraper.A  It was built with granite and sandstone and had a magnificent garden on the roof and a massive skylight in the interior to let light in.A  It housed the offices of many of the city’s then-prestigious companies.

The Fall

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Gateway District, where The Metropolitan was located, became run down.A  Buildings were not maintained.A  Sleazy hotels and flophouses started popping up in the area, and crime started to proliferate.A  By 1950, officials decided that something needed to be done.A  An urban renewal project began and the city began demolishing buildings in the Gateway District.A  Between 1957 and 1965, one-third of downtown Minneapolis had been demolished, including The Metropolitan.A  In all, about 200 buildings and over 22 city blocks were destroyed

Although Minneapolis was aggressive in its efforts to gut out the less desirable parts of the city, they did so with little to no plans on what to replace the demolished buildings with.A  Many historians speculate that not enough planning went into restructuring the Gateway District before demolition began.A  There are some buildings there now, but the area has not seen the level of development that many long to see.A  In fact, many architects and historians say the destruction was too far-spread and that there was no reason at all to tear down The Metropolitan.


Now, the Galaxy building stands where the Metropolitan used to stand.A  Its modern angles and boring material are a far cry from the charisma and appeal of the historic Metropolitan.A  Several projects that were slated to be built never were.A  Buildings have gone up in the area, but the area simply doesn’t have the character and appeal that it used to.

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In May of 2010, large marble stones from the Metropolitan were found in an old warehouse in Delano, Minnesota.A  The city decided to use the material to construct some benches and a lovely fountain in the public square. The Ice House Plaza, which opened in 2012, also includes some stones salvaged from The Metropolitan.

Lessons Learned

Most people familiar with The Metropolitan mourn its loss.A  Many think its destruction was unnecessary.A  A lesson we can learn from its destruction is that ‘œurban renewal’? is not always best achieved by destroying everything old in an area.A  Revitalizing a dilapidated area does not need to include destroying every standing building.

Revitalization means a renewal of the soul of the area.A  Revitalization means adding positive things to A what is going on in the area to the place to make it feel vital again.A  Historic buildings can and should be restored to play a central role in revitalization.A  New is not always best and old does not always need to be replaced.A  If city planners are able to work with historic buildings and pair them with new developments, the feel of the area will be renewed with a hint of nostalgia.A  Those who destroyed the Metropolitan learned this lesson too late.

By Jamie Bailey

Jamie has written for years about a variety of topics.A  She especially enjoys writing about travel, history and restoration contractors.A  She currently writes in Minneapolis for Rapid Restoration DKI, a company that specializes in water damage repair, mold removal, and restoration.

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