See complete list of LearningLife courses.
The 1880s were a time like no other in the history of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. It was a dynamic period that saw explosive growth and a great flowering of architecture.
The first skyscrapers appeared in the two downtowns, culminating in the twelve-story Northwestern Guaranty Loan (Metropolitan) Building—the tallest and most magnificent commercial structure in Minneapolis. Department stores like Donaldson’s and Saint Paul’s Emporium transformed the shopping experience. Mighty stone flour mills, including the two largest in the world, created an industrial colossus around St. Anthony Falls. Mansions of unprecedented size and opulence rose along such storied avenues as Summit in Saint Paul and Park in Minneapolis.
Meanwhile, impoverished immigrants lived in ramshackle communities like Swede Hollow and the Bohemian Flats, all but hidden from the cities around them.
Based on three books by architectural critic and historian Larry Millett, this course will explore the 1880s in all of their splendor and squalor, looking back at the crucial decade when Minneapolis and Saint Paul came of age.
Recommended: Metropolitan Dreams: The Scandalous Rise and Stunning Fall of a Minneapolis Masterpiece (University of Minnesota Press, 2018), Once There Were Castles: Lost Mansions and Estates of the Twin Cities (University of Minnesota Press, 2015), and Lost Twin Cities (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1992).
Larry Millett, MA, University of Chicago, wrote for the St. Paul Pioneer Press for three decades, including 17 as its architecture critic. He is the author of 14 works of nonfiction, including Minnesota Modern: Architecture and Life at Midcentury (University of Minnesota Press, 2015), which received a Minnesota Book Award, and Lost Twin Cities, which received the American Institute of Architects International Architecture Book Award. Millett also is author of eight mystery novels, the most recent of which is Sherlock Holmes and the Eisendorf Enigma (University of Minnesota Press, 2017).
Offered in cooperation with the University of Minnesota Press.