Lunchtime Tourist

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February 3, 2003 // UPDATED 4:26 pm - April 27, 2007
By: Hennepin History Museum exhibit; Hennepin County Government Center, 300 S. 6th St., skyway level'
Hennepin History Museum exhibit; Hennepin County Government Center, 300 S. 6th St., skyway level</I>'

In the midst of the wrecking ball tearing down our so-called non-historic, architecturally insignificant library in the name of progress, why not take in an exhibit featuring more of the city's past?

The Hennepin History Museum is known for creating intriguing exhibits on topics relating to our fair county. Now, because the escalators at the Hennepin County Government Center are closed for extensive repairs, the museum has covered the construction walls for our enjoyment.

Two giant panoramic photographs anchor the exhibits. A framed and hand-tinted aerial photo shows the meandering Mississippi River and its surrounding neighborhoods. The active Pillsbury "A" Mill and Washburn-Crosby elevators are at either side while the stone- arch bridge slices across the river and terminates in James J. Hill's Great Northern Railroad Station. Another photo shows the massive Foshay Tower dominating the business district's skyline in the 1950s.

The most popular section, crowded at lunchtime with curious onlookers, tells the history of Twin Cities amateur and professional baseball leagues. Dozens of teams played at neighborhood lots and the area's many stadiums. The sport attracted thousands of enthusiastic fans to games by teams such as the Unions, the White Shirts, and the minor league Millers who evolved into the Twins. Photos of cheering grandstand crowds in outdoor stadiums will make you feel there's hope for spring.

Other parts of the exhibit include an 1850s sepia-tone photo of a Dakota village on the riverbanks, City Hall surrounded by houses, Hennepin Avenue crowded with horse-drawn carriages and Model Ts in front of the Pantages Theater, and early real estate brochures selling homes in "suburbs" including Lake Nokomis. The museum is continually adding new pieces to the exhibit so be sure to check back again.

LUNCH TIP: Cross the skyway into Pillsbury Center and pick up a wrap from Good to Go, Atlas Grill's take out-restaurant.

Have you found some history? Contact thelunchtimetourist@hotmail.com.