Boston to Seattle by Rail: Minneapolis–City Within a City
April 14, 2011 2 Comments
Outside, the city is quiet. Still the homeless and the destitute limp along the streets, though out here more of them do so with the aid of a walker or a cane, or else they swing one leg around as if it were a burdensome piece of luggage. Poverty looks more brutal in the northern latitudes.
Outside, in the cool of fall, dried leaves tinkle to the ground and leap about like a horde of camouflaged yellow-red toads. The sun filters through a translucent layer of clouds and rains silver on the city’s gleaming skyscrapers. The city is beautiful with its metallic sky, its steel buildings and the aluminum Mississippi River flowing through it. But it’s mostly quiet out here.
Minneapolis’s convoluted system of sky-walks enables this inside/outside dichotomy. These closed walkways zig and zag through downtown from one block to another, bridging the same streets over and over again. Without setting foot outdoors, you can pass through a Barnes and Noble, a serene park, a food court, a Wells Fargo, a gigantic Target, a university, the lobby of a Hyatt, the base of an office tower, a Macy’s, and probably any other place of business that might come to mind. And you may cover eight miles en route and cross a dozen streets multiple times.
Because the sky-walks are the primary means of getting from one place to another, you’re likely to see an odd mix of people commingling. Passing through a Neiman Marcus you may see people who (like me) would never buy something at a Neiman Marcus (for want of money). Young men fresh from the gym, sporting sweat-stained T-shirts and shorts, may hurry by you in an elegant hotel lobby. And then there’s that elderly homeless man, wearing a weathered jacket and a weathered face. He’s just leaving Macy’s.