Minneapolis January 17, 2017
These 34 Photos Of Minneapolis In The 1930s Are Mesmerizing
We’re all looking forward to a fresh start in the new year, but it’s always fun to look back a few decades to reflect on how far we’ve come. These 34 photos of Minneapolis from the 1930s show off a whole different world from the one we know (and love) today, and they paint an amazing picture of what life was like more than 80 years ago!
1. The Gateway District has always been a center of activity in the city, but it looked a whole lot different back then! Although it's still a core historical spot in the city, many of the original buildings were demolished in the 1950s as part of an urban renewal effort.
2. Many of the streets in the Gateway District were lined with pawnshops and secondhand stores, reflecting the rough-but-slowly-recovering economic situation in the later 1930s.
3. Other parts of the Gateway District were filled with shops, cafes, and hotels...
4. ...but we can't stop staring at those super cool cars parked out front.
5. It was universally a decade of hardship, poverty, and unemployment.
6. You can certainly see the exhaustion in the expression of this mother and child, who are waiting for the family truck to be filled with goods for delivery.
7. Tension from the economic hardship due to the stock market crash in 1929 erupted in June 1934, when a Teamster strike turned into a violent showdown with police. The strikers opposed trucking companies that distributed throughout the Midwest and effectively shut down business in the city. On June 20th, now called "Bloody Friday," a standoff in the Warehouse District led police fired into a crowd of strikers armed with pipes, killing two people and injuring 67 others. The strike ended a month later on August 22, 1934.
8. Other, less violent events - like picketing various businesses throughout the city - continued throughout the decade and on into those that followed.
9. On a more positive note... do you remember the old Red Owl grocery stores? This one was located at 404 Hennepin Ave. in 1931. Today, this building is occupied by the Gay 90's bar!
10. These days, Minneapolis is celebrated for its well-developed metro system, but the system ran on busses and streetcars like these in 1939.
11. Here's a peek at what Hennepin Ave. looked like in 1934. The buildings on this intersection with 10th St. are no longer standing, but we love that old Hamm's sign.
12. Businesses certainly took a different angle to selling goods in this era. This billboard from 1937 advertises for the Minneapolis Journal newspaper.
13. In 1937, you could stay in a steam-heated hotel room for $1.25 per week!
14. For those planning an extended stay, boarding houses like this one on Second Street were a common alternative.
15. No, it's not a day camp for out-of-towners; "tourist camp" was a common term for traveller lodging between the 1930s - 1960s. Some tourist camps offered room rentals (similar to motels), while others just offered a spot for roadside camping.
16. Minneapolis is a historic center for the flour milling industry. Flour mills built along the Mississippi River processed and shipped huge volumes of flour in the 1930s.
17. While most of the original flour mills have been destroyed and demolished, a few of the sites have been preserved in the Mill Ruins historic district.
18. Pillsbury Mill was one of the largest in town. Here, an employee manages the packing and filling process.
19. The rich agricultural areas throughout the Midwest provided many types of jobs in the industry. These grain samplers worked for the Minnesota Grain Inspection Department in 1939.
20. After passing the checks of the grain samplers, grain inspectors took a closer look.
21. As the grain trade is so central to the state's economy, large inspection departments in the Twin Cities worked to ensure that both imported and exported products were of high quality.
22. The Minneapolis Grain Exchange was founded in 1881 as a marketplace for regional oats, corn, and wheat traders.
23. The Open Grain Market provided a place for farmers to sell their products and for buyers to examine many different options for purchase.
24. This buyer is examining a sample of oats offered at the Minnesota Grain Exchange in 1939.
25. Aside from shopping and sampling, buyers at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange placed bids for the highest quality goods.
26. Prohibition ended in 1933, so by 1937, saloons like this one in the Mill District were a common sight.
27. Horse-drawn beer wagons, also a common sight in the late '30s, made deliveries to local businesses. We wish these still existed!
28. Grain Belt Brewery, which was established in 1893, survived the Prohibition years by producing "near-beer" and sodas; however, the brewery has experienced tumultuous business since. The original brewery in Minneapolis was closed and operations were moved to a St. Paul location in 1976. Declining sales led the company to shut down completely for a brief period in 2002, but was reopened after being purchased by August Schell Brewing Company. Luckily, business picked up and Grain Belt survived as one of August Schell's most popular brews.
29. Beginning in 1933, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration began opening Camps for Unemployed Women, also called She-She-She Camps, in response to the development of similar programs for men in the Civilian Conservation Corps. The project was organized by Eleanor Roosevelt and gave women work sewing inexpensive clothing. Ultimately, the program was unsuccessful and was discontinued in 1937.
30. Despite the hard times, Minneapolitans survived the rough decade and have only grown stronger over the years.
31. The Gateway District was a common retreat for those needing a break from the stress.
32. Many of our highly celebrated parks offered recreational activities like shuffleboard courts.
33. And families continued to enjoy the simple moments of happiness. We love this sweet photo of a young boy feeding the ducks!
34. The Minneapolis spirit hasn't changed, but our skyline certainly has!
We’re certainly excited for 2017 and the experiences to come – 2016 was a tough year for all – but looking back to decades past reminds us the strength of our lovely city and gives us confidence that we will make it through whatever this new year throws our way!