"We are all of us living in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." ~Oscar Wilde
"Adventure is worthwhile in itself." ~Amelia Earhart

March 3, 2008

The Death of City Center

When I was a teenager, I would visit downtown Minneapolis a few times a week. Most of the time, my best friend would come along. Other times, I would go with various other friends. Back then, the central attraction (at least for us) was a shopping plaza called "City Center". At the time, the retail portion of the building spanned three floors and was usually a flurry of activity. Office workers, teenagers, and the occasional casual shopper all browsed the various shops and there was rarely an empty storefront. On the third floor was a food court with about ten or fifteen fast food places and, at one point, a video arcade. In short, it was busy.

A while ago, "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" by The Hold Steady hit the playlists of some of the local radio stations (mostly because it had a number of Minnesota references). In the song, one of the lyrics declares "She said, City Center used to be the center of the scene. Now City Center's over. No one really goes there." I didn't really think about the lyrics that much at the time. But, today my bus route (I'm on those things a lot recently) took me through downtown. Since I needed to transfer buses anyway, I stopped by, hoping to grab something to eat from the convenience store that used to be in the building.

The song's right. That place died. Sometime in the 10+ years since I've been there, the building was remodeled. The third floor and its once busy food court is gone now and only a few stores remain. Most of the storefronts lay empty, covered with glass, waiting for a new tenant that may never come. The office workers are still there but they seem to use it as a thoroughfare to another destination.

The bizarre thing about it is the two shopping plazas across the street actually seem somewhat active. Gavvidae Commons (I doubt I spelled that right.) on Nicollet Avenue had a steady stream of shoppers and diners. Though I didn't visit Block E on Hennepin Avenue, I've been there fairly recently and, although it wasn't packed, it seemed to be doing decently.

I almost took photos but I was too busy coming up with new expletives for the cold weather and just wanted to get home.


franscud said...

Are you going to share the expletives? I could definitely use a few to cast out here in Chicago too.

I haven't been to Minneapolis in 5 years or so. Not sure if I remember City Center. But I do have the Hold Steady's CD (yes, the actual disc, not MP3s).

Berryvox said...

Heh, not much originality to the expletives.

I don't think City Center would stand out to somebody passing through. Mostly, it's just a building amongst a whole bunch of other buildings.

I do the same thing and buy the actual CD.