Although I would never admit it in a job interview, I chose my career mostly because I really wanted to work in downtown Minneapolis. I fell in love with the hustle and bustle the first time I got off the light rail at the Nicollet Mall station, and earned my paralegal certificate with the goal of finding gainful employment at one of downtown's many law firms. It worked, and I've spent the past three years smiling every morning when I first catch sight of the skyline and exploring the city on my lunch breaks. Here are some of my favorite things about downtown Minneapolis, some well-known and others a bit off the beaten path.
- The Rand Tower. When I push my way through the Rand Tower's heavy revolving door, I feel like I'm stepping back into the Jazz Age. The muted colors and dim lighting of the lobby, with its curving stone staircase, vintage elevators, and celestially patterned gray linoleum, add to the effect of being in a black and white movie.
- The Lumber Exchange Building. One of my favorite buildings in downtown Minneapolis, for its elaborate lobby and wrought iron stair railings.
- Rockman sculptures at the U.S. Courthouse. Look closely at the grassy mounds in front of the U.S. Courthouse--they're covered with bronze potato-shaped people mowing, snapping photographs, and sunbathing. These whimsical statues seem totally at odds with the somber and serious justice system, but it's nice to know that someone in the federal government has a sense of humor.
- Nicollet Mall Farmer's Market. The highlight of my Thursdays, May through October, and a convenient way to buy fresh, local produce. Look for the "local grower" signs, since there are also distributors selling produce from out of state (which explains the bananas and pineapples). The exercise gained from lugging ten pounds of tomatoes several blocks back to my office is an added benefit.
- Loring Park. I love that a fifteen minute walk takes me from skyscrapers and cement to oak trees and a pond. There are footpaths, lots of benches in the shade, a flower garden, and an abundance of squirrels.
- Loring Greenway. If you can't make it all the way to Loring Park, you can get some green in your day by walking along the Loring Greenway, between Nicollet Avenue and Willow Street. The Zen-like gurgling of the water fountains is instantly relaxing, and in the summer there are little bistro tables to enjoy al fresco midday dining. In the fall, the maple trees by the playground burst into gorgeous yellows, oranges, and reds.
- The Nicollet Mall Target Cafe. For the popcorn, of course. At $1.43, tax included, it's one of the best deals downtown.
- The Stone Arch Bridge. Walk across the bridge and then turn around--it's my favorite view of downtown Minneapolis, for the juxtaposition of the the modern office towers rising up behind the historic mill buildings.
- The Skyway system. When the snow and cold keeps me from walking to Loring Park or the Stone Arch Bridge over my lunch hour, I log my miles indoors. With eight miles of passageways and enclosed footbridges between buildings, there are lots of interesting routes to explore.