Boston to Seattle by Rail: Minneapolis–City Within a City

In the fall of 2009 I traveled by train from Boston to Seattle and back.  Below and in succeeding posts I share thoughts and experiences from the journey.
 
Minneapolis: City Within a City
Minneapolis in November is a busy city.  Men and women sprint to and from work dressed in suits and ties, business skirts and high heels that knock knock knock on the pavement. Mothers push children in strollers. Toddlers frolic in parks and stick their hands in fountains that fall from the sky. Here, a homeless man ambles along with hands outstretched. There, an elderly gentleman relaxes on a bench and peruses the newspaper without really reading it. The city is alive with music and laughter. Minneapolis in November is electric–inside.

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.

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About atomsofthought
Teacher. Traveler. Writer. Reader.

2 Responses to Boston to Seattle by Rail: Minneapolis–City Within a City

  1. Pingback: Life and Trains: Stay On or Get Off (and Travel as Distraction) « Atoms of Thought

  2. Pingback: Chicago | Atoms of Thought

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