Today I was fortunate to get an informal tour of the Minneapolis Star Tribune building on Portland Ave. Most of the interior looks like any other mid-century office building; lots of cubicles and computers. (more on the history of the building here) Long gone is the hustle and noise you may used to associate with a big-city newsroom. But my guide showed me a number of things that piqued my history and news-loving interests.
The paper will be getting new digs in a few months. The building, mostly empty and cavernous, will be razed as part of the new Downtown East development, which includes a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. But I was very grateful to pull back the curtain of the Fourth Estate, how ever superficial, and get a cursory glimpse of how news is made. (the story behind the spelling of the door can be found here)
(all photos by me)
Front page of the Minneapolis Morning Tribune from August 14th, 1914.
(image via Yesterday’s News)
Ad in the Minneapolis Journal for sightseeing tours of the Twin Cities (1906)
(image via Library of Congress)
Crowd outside Shinder’s news stand (Hennepin Av at 7th St, Minneapolis) reading about the allied invasion of Normandy. June 6th, 1944 (with copy of the front page of that morning’s Minneapolis Tribune)
(images via MHS Visual Resources Database and Star Tribune)
Giant stone medallions fixed to the front of the building heralded sectors of the economy that were important to Minnesota in the 1940s: Mining, farming, tourism, milling, logging. A newspaper wouldn’t dare build such a headquarters today. “You mean you’re in favor of mining? And you support using animals for food?” People would accuse the publisher of being in the pocket of Big Wheat.
And that’s the point: In those days, newspaper publishers weren’t shy about letting the world know whose side they were on. The medallions on the building’s facade celebrated Minnesota, just as the giant globe in the building’s lobby celebrated Minnesota’s connection to the world. The celebration wasn’t lost on the hundreds of employees who passed through the doors every day.
It sounds corny, but a building like that made a guy square his shoulders a little when he showed up for work in the morning. It reminded him that he was working for something more than a paycheck — a good thing, too, considering what he probably thought of the paycheck.
(“The doomed Star Tribune building and the meaning of journalism”, image and text via MPR News)
City gives preliminary OK for demolition of Star Tribune building
Here’s an excerpt from the staff report on its origins:
“The subject property was constructed in 1919 and 1920 by the Nonpartisan League: the populist and somewhat socialist agrarian movement that swept the upper Midwest beginning in 1915 and which led to the formation of the Farmer Labor Party. The League, under the auspices of the Northwest Publishing Company, founded the Minnesota Daily Star (later named the Minneapolis Daily Star): one of Minneapolis’ many upstart papers audacious enough to challenge the dominant Minneapolis Journal and Minneapolis Tribune. The paper quickly faltered, falling into receivership by 1924.”
The six “medallions” on the front of the building, which represent the industries of the upper midwest, will be spared and incorporated to the new park on the site.
(image, from 1954, via MHS Visual Resources Database)
"Our wives and daughters are no longer safe on the streets of Minneapolis." This old partizan political war cry that has done service in many a municipal campaign, can for once be truthful applied, for the execrable thoroughfare have for weeks imperiled both life and limb to pedestrians. When the heavy snows of January, February and March fell in high drifts the street car company with its scrapers pushed the snow as it fell from the tracks to either side. The sidewalks were cleared and the snow thrown upon the street, adding to the heighth of the ridges already formed. Thousands of teams have trampled it compactly, while successive thawing and freezing have formed an icy embankment to feet thick nearly, on the average, as hard as rock, running between the tracks and curbstones.
St. Paul Daily Globe. March 25, 1888.
(image and text via Library of Congress)