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Baseball Soon, Parking Now, Lumber Then

Ballpark Site History

June 8, 2006 1:04 AM

New Downtown Minneapolis Public Library

New Downtown Minneapolis Public Library (Source: RP)

If you haven't been to the new downtown library, find a time and just stroll in. Not only is it a magnificent building, but so much information is now at your fingertips which was locked away in the past, and it's very easy to navigate. What's more, the staff is absolutely amazing to work with.

I went in looking for old maps of downtown Minneapolis, specifically the warehouse district. When I said I was researching the ballpark site, the librarian immediately assumed I was referring to Athletic Park (which in the late 1800s was located on the block which currently contains Butler Square)! I explained that, no, I was interested in the new Twins ballpark site just two blocks away. She laughed and said, "Yes, I suppose that's more interesting now."

I should say that I love delving into Minneapolis history. It's been a hobby for many years, and I never miss an opportunity to find out new tidbits. I won't go into all the details of researching something like this, despite the fact that it's pretty easy if you have the time and patience. On this particular day, I did.

1885 Sanborn Map Image

1885 Sanborn Map Image (Source: Sanborn Map Collection, Minneapolis Public Library, Copyright © 2001 by The Sanborn Map Company, Sanborn Library, LLC)

Ultimately, I was eased into an online map database which contains detailed insurance maps from various points in the last 150 years. That's where I found the next image (stadium location shaded blue). It is of the ballpark neighborhood in 1885, and it shows that the most of the area was lumber yards and railroad tracks.

At first, I thought this was essentially uninteresting. Then I looked again at the various names and the one business building located on the actual site (about where left field will likely be one day). It is listed as the Camp & Walker Planing Mill (see detail).

After a little further research, I realized that this was owned by none other than T. B. Walker, one of the very big names in Minneapolis history. He made a fortune in lumber, and was friend to many other big names like railroad tycoon James J. Hill. Walker's family ultimately founded many institutions in the Twin Cities which still bear their name, including the Walker Art Center. Here is Walker's bio from the Minnesota Historical Society which even includes a reference to his partnership with George A. Camp.

It's notable that very nearby was another locally famous name on the Lowry Elevator. Other businesses in the area included the North Star Lumber Company and the Fraser & Shepherd Sash, Door, and Blind Manufacturers. There are also two ponds interrupting 6th Street.

Just to the south (left of the image above) is a large undeveloped area which was not even mapped in 1889. Despite this, it's clear that our new playground will be built in an area that was a hub of commerce in the late 19th century.

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This page was last modified on January 21, 2010.



"You talk about the magic, the aura, but what really makes a stadium is the fans. Concrete doesn't talk back to you. Chairs don't talk back to you. It's the people who are there, day in, day out, that makes the place magic."

– Bernie Williams

Explore the Site

Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3044 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.


From the roof of the Minnekahda building (courtesy Bruce Lambrecht).



This is the revised version of the center field pavilion (without the restaurant). It looks like there are no seats, just some ledges for people to sit on. It reminds me of the seating on the "bridge" which sticks out of the new Guthrie Theater. Anything which lands in the trees will presumably be a home run, so the "411" sign is apparently just for fun.



The outfield stands as viewed through the unnumbered gate



Plaza seating installation






Dugout Dog



Peering through Gate 34






That group was working on something very carefully, but I couldn't tell just what it was.



Uh oh. A code of conduct. Clearly posted. I'm not gonna mention any names, but you know who you are... (Click to enlarge.)



Evidence of a food court behind the seating above the batter's eye









A sharp-eyed reader caught me trying to make the best of a bad situation with my SP-570UZ on Sunday afternoon



Many people will approace the park from this direction and it's a pretty great first glimpse. It features all the design elements in modestly condensed form, and still manages to look like a ballpark (instead of something else).



OK, people are definitely riding their bikes to games! (Photo by Tim Davis, courtesy MBA)



Since pictures of the ballpark are forbidden, perhaps you'll enjoy this shot of the lovely apple tree in my front yard.









Spring of 1982 (click to enlarge greatly -- can you pick out Kent Hrbek?)



The Pohlads were loose. A-Rod looked, um, you decide.



One more exterior view shows that, while the original look was attractive in a way, it seems to be a variation on the look of the Washington ballpark (albeit with a much more coherent collection of elements). What's remarkable is that the design team has refined the concept amazingly well, improving it immeasurably. What we're actually getting is clearly descended from this, but it's in a whole different league:






The view down Sixth Street toward the ballpark site. A pedestrian bridge will extend this street right into the main entrance of the park. The regrettable facade of Target Center is on the left. Butler Square is on the right. Click on the image to see what it looked like on this very spot about 100 years ago.












And another angle looking at the overhang area of the right field pavilion. This looks to me like a great area to watch a game.






The dish!



I do love the upper concourse. Feels like home already.



Home Run Porch Terrace






The Metrodome is converted to its football configuration after the Twins game on August 29, 2002



New Year's Eve, 2008






Look at all that blank space. Canvas! (What should go on those walls? A giant schedule perhaps?)






This little item stands just to the south of the site, where the volleyball courts used to be. It has to be related to exterior finishing elements, which means this is the first glimpse of the actual stone to be used. Very buttery.



This is the actual entrance for Gate 6. Notice how close the seating will be. The back row of the lower deck will be mere inches beyond that inner support post.



Poles through the gap



Not from Moose's tour, but it's an image you need to see. (Click to enlarge greatly.)



If you are into shade, there are lots of opportunities. This is from the last row in section 108 -- scoreboard not blocked in the least.















Directly above the ceiling here is the hidden concourse which served the upper deck prior to the renovation. That concourse was closed off to the public, but became a service level for ballpark employees. It's one of the many quirks which will be lost when the wrecking ball takes the place away.



Up there is where I plan to buy a lot of hot dogs. You can see the vending areas developing rather quickly around the completed portion of the upper concourse.



Close-up on the diagram of the Club Level with finishing materials (click to enlarge)


Glossary

BPM - Ballpark Magic

BRT - Bus Rapid Transit

DSP - Dave St. Peter

FSE - Full Season Equivalent

FYS - Fake Yankee Stadium (see also: NYS)

HERC - Hennepin Energy Resource Company (aka the Garbage Burner)

HPB - Home Plate Box

HRP - Home Run Porch

LC - Legends Club

LRT - Light Rail Transit

MBA - Minnesota Ballpark Authority (will own Target Field)

MOA - Mall of America

MSFC - Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission (owns the Metrodome)

NYS - New Yankee Stadium

SRO - Standing Room Only

STH - Season Ticket Holder

TCFBS - TCF Bank Stadium

TF - Target Field

Selected Bibliography - Analysis
 


(1993)
 


First Edition (1992)
 


Second Edition (2006)
 


(2008)
 

Selected Bibliography - Surveys
 


(1975)
 


Second Edition (1987)
 


Not a "Third Edition" exactly,
but it replaced the above title
(2000)
 


(2000, large coffee table)
 


Original edition (2000, round)
 


Revised edition (2006, round)
 


(2001, medium coffee table)
 


(2002, small coffee table)
 


(2003, medium coffee table)
 


(2004, very large coffee table)
 


(2006, very large coffee table)
 


Combines the previous two titles
(2007, medium coffee table)
 

Selected Bibliography - Nostalgia
 


(1992)
 


Book and six ballpark miniatures
(2004)
 

Complete Bibliography

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