Nicollet Avenue has been Minneapolis’ main shopping street for more than 100 years. In the 1960’s, to compete with suburban shopping malls that were drawing customers away from downtown, eight blocks of Nicollet were closed to automobile traffic, and the Nicollet Mall was built to the design of landscape architect Lawrence Halprin. The Mall has been updated twice since then: in 1990 when it was increased to 12 blocks and in 2017-18. The Mall is home to three Fortune 500 companies, hundreds of small businesses, and more than 140,000 workers. Every day, more pedestrians walk along Nicollet Mall than any other street in the city. It was the nation’s first transit mall (with driving lanes reserved for buses and taxis), an idea that has been copied in other U.S. cities including Portland, Oregon, and Denver. On this walking tour, we will investigate the histories of the Mall itself and of 15 buildings and spaces that face the Mall, including the IDS Crystal Court, Dayton's, the Loring Greenway, and Westminster Presbyterian Church. We will walk the Mall’s entire length to 12th St. Then we can take a free bus back to our starting point.
Tour guide Richard L. Kronick is a freelance writer who specializes in architecture and engineering. He teaches architectural history and has led more than 50 architecture tours for the College of Continuing Education at the U of M, Elk River Schools, and other organizations. John Jager and Purcell & Elmslie have been major focuses of Richard’s research for decades.