Lunchtime Tourist

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March 15, 2004 // UPDATED 9:51 am - April 25, 2007
By: Linda Koutsky
Linda Koutsky

Greyhound bus station

If you're like a lot of Minnesotans, March brings visions of travel to warm destinations with ocean breezes. But not all of us have the vacation days or frequent flyer miles to head out of this typically snowy month. So just for the fun of it, go Greyhound -- at least for lunch.

The Hawthorne Transportation Center was designed by Collaborative Design Group and built in 2002. It houses terminals for both Greyhound and Jefferson bus lines.

The lobby is filled with brightly colored graphics and a gigantic three-dimensional racing dog logo that nearly leaps through the front window.

Along one wall are historic photos of Greyhound's early years. Black and white photos trace the bus line's architectural style across America.

Curving glass windows, horizontal banding, expression signage and big dogs were branding elements for Greyhound stations from the 1930s through the '60s.

Two locations ago, our own Minneapolis icon was on the corner of 1st Avenue North and 7th Street that is now home First Avenue. A photo of that 1940s station is on display along with a complete evolution of bus styles from the original 1914 Hupmobile to the 1950s Scenicruiser where passengers sat up a level from the driver for better vistas.

However, to really explore Greyhound's history, you'll have to catch a ride to Hibbing, Minn. to visit the Greyhound Bus Museum. There, you'll learn that in 1914, Swedish immigrant Carl Wickman started the bus line by charging 15 cents for a ride between the towns of Hibbing and Alice. More convenient than waiting for a train, the Mesaba Transportation Company eventually carried passengers to other mining towns and then Duluth and Minneapolis. By the '30s, the company's routes stretched across the country and the name was changed to Greyhound.

Today, the transportation giant has 3,600 destinations in the U.S. and Canada with 19,000 bus departures a day.

LUNCH TIP: At the Hawthorne terminal a sign warns that the area beyond the counter is for ticketed passengers only -- however a public relations person assured me that Skyway News readers are welcome for lunch. Travelers' Grill serves complete breakfasts, salads and complete dinners for a bargain.

Send your tips to thelunchtimetourist@hotmail.com.