After walking up and down stairways in Milwaukee (please see the previous post), my dog Petey and I headed toward Minneapolis to get some photos of Minneapolis’ famous downtown skyways. This would be our first visit to the Twin Cities since we went there to climb stairs three and half years ago. (Please click here to read about that visit.)
If you look closely, you can three of Minneapolis’ dozens of Slyways. Almost every building in downtown Minneapolis is connected at the second floor level by a Skyway bridge. There are over eight miles of walkways connected at the second floor level in downtown Minneapolis.
Ironically, one week after that previous visit, I ran across an Internet article by Andy Sturdevant describing two stairways in Minneapolis that we missed. (Please click here to read that article.) Needless to say, we planned on finding those stairways while we were in Minneapolis.
Before talking about the stairways, I would like to describe briefly the setting of the Twin Cities. Minneapolis is located where the Mississippi River passes over St. Anthony Falls. These are the only sizeable falls on the entire Mississippi River. Early settlement of Minneapolis took place there to take advantage of the power generated by the falls. Because of the falls Minneapolis was the flour milling capital of the world one hundred years ago. Today’s downtown Minneapolis is a very short walk from the falls.
This how St. Anthony Falls looks today.
As you can see the falls are very close to downtown.
This old Pillsbury flour mill, across the river from downtown, ceased operations in 2003. There are plans to save the structure and convert it to other uses.
You can even take this stairway in front of the old Pillsbury mill to the bottom of the falls. The stairway has a total of 60 steps.
At the bottom of the stairs, you have an excellent view of this old stone railroad bridge. The bridge is now used by walkers, runners, and bicyclists.
12,000 years ago, the very same falls were located twelve miles downstream close to where downtown St. Paul now stands today. St. Paul got its start as the northern terminus of steamboat navigation on the Mississippi River.
The stretch of the Mississippi River between the two downtowns of the Twin Cities is a canyon carved by erosion over the past 12,000 years. The two stairways we wanted to climb are on the east side of the river. They lead from the bluffs above the river down to the canyon floor.
Minnehaha Falls on the west side of the river, is one the features of the Mississippi River canyon between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul. There are three WPA era stairways at Minnehaha Falls. All three of them have over 100 steps and are described in the previous blog post.
We found our first stairway on the east side of the river at Franklin Avenue.
The stairway had 147 steps and was temporarily closed due construction on the Franklin Avenue bridge. Since we couldn’t wait for the stairs to reopen, we stepped over the barrier and walked down to the canyon floor.
As you can see, construction blocked the trail going north along the river. We had hoped to go north to reach the other stairway near the University of Minnesota campus.
Since we couldn’t go north, we headed south along the river and it was wonderful. This was an amazing walk in the middle of a city.
The trail eventually took a ramp up to this very nice neighborhood at the top of the bluff.
We then walked along the top of the bluff until we reached this building at the University of Minnesota medical center.
This stairway was directly across the street.
As you can see the stairway follows a zigzags course along the side of the bluff to reach the bottom. The stairway has a total of 194 steps and is very popular with runners and people out for a walk.
As you can also see, the canyon floor was very nice. The bridge where we started down the river is much further away than this zoomed in picture shows. From here, we went back up the steps and returned to our car.
As we walked back to our car, three wild turkeys walked right in front of us. If you look closely, you can see two of them in this picture.
With that, our walk along the Mississippi River was finished. Again, I hope this and all the other posts in this blog show that there is always something see and do no matter where you are. And also that when you wander, you will always discover something.