Back in the late 1800's, downtown Minneapolis revolved around the Mill District. The city was oriented toward the Mississippi and the flour and lumber mills powered by St. Anthony Falls. Washington Avenue was the main thoroughfare. The land between Washington Ave. and the river was dominated by railroads and the mills. Looking at old maps from Mill City's golden age, it appears that the courthouse was the tallest building around.
We've been passing this granite landmark week after week on our trips downtown. I've been wanting to get there on a weekday to see inside, and we finally made it.
The prominent feature of the interior lobby is the Father of Waters statue. It's HUGE.
Honestly, I found him a bit intimidating at first.
The brochure says that he was modeled after Father of the Nile, a statue carved over 2,000 years ago, that is now in Vatican City. I suppose the Mississippi is to America what the Nile was to Egypt.
It was carved from a block of marble that came from the very same Italian quarries sourced by da Vinci and Michelangelo. The sculptor, Larkin Mead, is also known for Lincoln's Tomb, the statue of Ethan Allen in Statutory Hall, and the dome of Vermont's statehouse.
There's so much detail to examine: a turtle, alligator, paddle wheel, fish net, Native American blanket, and a corn stalk (wonder why not a wheat stalk?).
He weighs 14,000 pounds. If he were to stand up, he would be over 15 feet tall.
Rubbing his toe is supposed to bring good luck!
There are just four stories from the courtyard up to the skylight, but the height was dizzying from the top.
My kids were impressed by everything from the stained glass windows, the super-fast elevator, to the grotesques near the elevator doors.
The professionals walking around got a kick out of seeing children enjoy their historic landmark. They seemed to appreciate it's beauty, even though they see it every day.
We were allowed to wander around by ourselves, though there are formal tours every third Wednesday. If that tour includes the clock tower, I think we'll definitely make plans to attend.
Hope you had fun seeing these photos. If you have been on the real tour, drop a line and tell me about it!