By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
New York is famous for its glamorous districts: Financial, Fashion, Diamond.
According to popular wisdom, downtown Minneapolis boasts only the Warehouse District (at least, until they finish tearing it down) but like our sister city in the east, there is much, much, much more to Minneapolis than meets the eye. What follows is a guide to walking this city's other districts, each a whorl of activity, each a vibrant nexus where art and commerce explode, collide, and recombine--only to explode again!
(Nicollet and 10th Street,
on the Mall)
Stop in and browse, or just window shop at Keepsakes and Promises, Schaffer's Bridal Shops, or the irresistibly romantic Whiteman's Bridal Warehouse. Mothers who still care about the late Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis will appreciate the early-Sixties fantasy decor; their daughters will marvel at the up-to-the-minute fashions. All that's missing is the man of your dreams. But don't fret--some high-cheekboned indie rocker might be looking for commitment in the stacks of used CDs at Let It Be Records, the area's conspicuously non-bridal store.
Approximate length of tour (fitting not included): 5 minutes.
(Hennepin and 10th Street)
Professional photographers and amateur shutterbugs have learned to count on National Camera Exchange for first-rate photographic equipment and supplies. Exposed roll in hand, they often return to have their film professionally developed across the street at ProColor, where Robert Mapplethorpe is rumored to have had his famous "bullwhip" self-portrait processed before dedicating it to the city of St. Paul! Because of this, and the relentless traffic of other image-makers, people often refer to the crosswalk joining these two corners as the Optic Nerve of Minneapolis.
Approximate length of tour (photo shoot not included): 5 minutes.
(Hennepin between Eighth
and Ninth Street)
Abutting the Photography District is Minneapolis's rapidly expanding theater district. Whether you're a first-timer or an Andrew Lloyd Webber scholar, you're sure to find "something for everyone" at the Hey! City Stage, the Orpheum, or the Historic State Theater. After the show, dine at upscale franchise The Palomino or soon-to-be upscale franchise Cafe D'Napoli. On top of these abundant choices, Big City Bagel, The Saloon, Shinder's, and Broadway Book and Video spice the neighborhood with illicit urban flavor. At night, under the stars, the very blacktop in front of LaSalle Plaza seems to shine with danger, sex, and intrigue. The end result has earned this block and a half of real estate the nickname "The Other Times Square."
Approximate length of tour (Tony and Tina's Wedding not included):
AL FRESCO DISTRICT
(Corner of Fourth Street
and First Avenue N.)
The New French Cafe, Sawatdee, Urban Wildlife--Minneapolis's signature restaurants, a mighty triumvirate of taste and tastemaking. But these three radically different restaurants also share a common link vital to the identity of this city: All three use the same plastic patio furniture from Target. Lean back (but not too far) and enjoy drinks and appetizers in the hot spot for cool, open-air entertainment in the Twin Cities.
Approximate length of tour (drinks and judgmental people watching not included): 5 minutes.
(Other corner of Fourth Street and First Avenue N.)
Not to be outdone by their neighbors across the street, Chez Bananas and Sister Fun have conspired to create a node for wacky, alternative fun in Minneapolis. Shop for campy gee-gaws at Sister Fun and then eat a delicious Caribbean dinner surrounded by campy gee-gaws, or, for variety, do it the other way around. Afterwards, pretend you're a sophisticated spy or a cigar-chomping tycoon at The Lounge, where creatives from around town gather to relive/ ridicule the lost elegance America never had.
Approximate length of tour (dinner and campy reminiscence about Etch-A-Sketch not included): 5 minutes.
(First Avenue N. from Sixth Street to Third Street)
Start your tour here or save it for last! Nestled snugly behind downtown are two enormous, shadow-casting parking ramps which provide more than ample parking and no small amount of civic pride for area residents. Walk the cool, oil-spotted ramps and marvel at how the city adamantly refused to compromise the architectural and historical integrity of the neighborhood. Or, wait until next year, when the city unveils its History of Parking in Minnesota interactive virtual reality kiosk and accompanying half-hour audio tour of the two structures built to save Downtown.
Approximate length of tour (parking not included): 20 minutes.
For those of you who missed the Republican Convention in all its glory (our favorite moment: Elizabeth Dole comparing a BOB DOLE presidency to her husband's crippled arm), we offer this brief Sound Bite Summary: