Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Skirting downtown Minneapolis, an essay in words & images August 9, 2017

Minneapolis skyline, #9


I NEVER TIRE OF PHOTOGRAPHING the Minneapolis skyline from Interstate 35W. There’s something about the placement, height and shapes of the clustered buildings that appeals to me aesthetically. Add in the reflection of blue sky upon windows and the artistic allure increases substantially.


Minneapolis skyline, #10


My skyline images, for reasons I can’t explain, always appear to me more paintings than photos. Building edges are soft rather than harsh. That pleases me.


Minneapolis skyline, #11


If you were to place me in the middle of downtown Minneapolis, though, I wouldn’t be pleased. I’ve always felt boxed in by skyscrapers, by the vertical lines that block views. I am rooted in my native prairie, the broad vistas and wide open spaces an integral part of my being.


Minneapolis skyline, #12


Still, from a distance, I can appreciate downtown Minneapolis and the high-rises that ring it.


Riverside Plaza, designed by architect Ralph Rapson and built between 1971 - 1973, is probably the most recognized apartment complex in downtown Minneapolis. Located in the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood, the multiple buildings include 1,303 units and are home to more than 4,000 residents. The plaza is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Riverside Plaza, designed by architect Ralph Rapson and built between 1971 – 1973, is probably the most recognized apartment complex in downtown Minneapolis. Located in the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood, the multiple buildings include 1,303 units and are home to more than 4,000 residents. The plaza is on the National Register of Historic Places.


Mixed with the apartments, housing for visitors to downtown Minneapolis.

Mixed with the apartments, housing for visitors to downtown Minneapolis.


More apartments...

More apartments…I think.


Border apartments pack a lot of people into vertical space. I couldn’t live here, though, even if offered a spectacular river view. But I expect neither could these city dwellers move to a rural area with horizontal lines.


Minneapolis skyline, #18 apartments

I find the exterior view of these apartments aesthetically pleasing.


Just another view of the same apartment complex.

Just another view of the same apartment complex.


Where we choose to live is shaped by many factors—jobs, family, economics, amenities and more. And for me, my rural upbringing keeps me rooted outside the city in a place of horizontal vistas.

TELL ME: Why do you live where you live?

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


27 Responses to “Skirting downtown Minneapolis, an essay in words & images”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    I have lived a great many places over my life and while it is difficult for some to understand how our family was happy to pick up and move whenever the job required it it has been a huge blessing. More moves = more experiences, more connections, more friends, more areas to explore. It is difficult to pick a favorite place. We have not been big city dwellers in our lives but I love to visit big cities. Favorite place to live has to be where we are right now. Which is the way it should be.

  2. I live where I live because what matters most to me is being with my adventure partner – that is home sweet home to me 🙂 I live in a community within a major metro area and I am less than 3 miles from water. It was always a dream of mine to live near the water and it has come true. I have been so blessed to experience the Midwest, Out West and now the South. Yes – if you are counting that is (2) cross country moves – such an adventure though. I love being able to get outside year round too – walking/hiking, beaching/swimming, biking, etc. I cannot wait to read the comments to this post to see where everyone else lives and their experiences. Happy Day – Enjoy!

  3. Beautiful photos of Minneapolis. I flew there once to visit friends in rural Minnesota. I’m looking forward to returning again to discover more than Mall of America. I was raised among the cornfields and soybeans in rural Ohio (and currently visiting family here), but I’m enjoying my nomadic lifestyle traveling from one place to another in our motorhome full time. There are so many different textures, layers, people, and cultures–it’s great to experience it all. I hope to capture those places through photos and words, although it’s hard to give all the lovely places justice. You do a marvelous job doing just that! Dawn

    • Can you believe I’ve never been to the Mall of America? Nope. And I have no desire to go there.

      Good for you to lead an adventuresome and nomadic lifestyle. It wouldn’t be for me, but you are clearly happy calling a motorhome home full-time. Enjoy your time with family in Ohio.

  4. Almost Iowa Says:

    To see the Foshay Tower peeking out among the skyscrapers is quite a comment on the evolution of the city. There once was a brief moment in time when the Minneapolis City Hall was the tallest building in town.

    • I remember when the IDS Center became the tallest building in downtown. Is it still the highest? And is it still called the IDS Center? I have no idea, which shows how little I know about downtown Minneapolis.

      • Almost Iowa Says:

        It will always remain the IDS Tower in the minds of people our age. Since I left the city, both in residence and employment, I don’t keep up with what goes on there. I haven’t been downtown in years.

  5. Jackie Says:

    The Minneapolis/St. Paul skylines are so beautiful aren’t they. The colors of the glass and buildings and the reflections from the surroundings make each trip through the area fascinating! I could never live in one of those high rise apartment buildings, I would be too afraid of fires that spread below. Weird I know…but I think about that, especially since 9/11.

  6. I’m not sure why but I thought of the Emerald City from The Wizard of Oz when I saw the skyline.

  7. Thanks for the great pictures of downtown Minneapolis. I Lived near Lake Street and 35-W in 1965, worked out in St Louis Park at Wallace Carlson printing. I will always have a place in my heart for the Minneapolis area. I spent two years in Japan where we had almost daily earthquakes, I would never live there for sure. I love the Prairie country here in South Dakota.

  8. Marilyn Donnell Says:

    One year we were visiting relatives near Rice Lake WI. It was the back of beyond – breakfast conversation was discussion of what had the bears done overnight. I was afraid to go out without my uncle near. Before we left the area we wanted to add another state to our repertoire and drove across to Saint Paul. The big problem was we couldn’t decide where to turn around and retreat from city madness. The traffic was freaking me out and when I saw the sign that we had entered Minneapolis I had to close my eyes. Sorry, Honey. It was my idea, I’m just so sorry I said it out loud and everyone thought it was a good idea. Now I live in rural suburbia near Australia’s third largest city Brisbane and would think nothing of showing you the sights of our fair city although I’d prefer to stay in our local home area.

  9. These are very familiar sights. I have driven on this 35w many times a year but I have never photographed the skyline as you have. Thanks

  10. Sandra Says:

    I could never be an urban dweller, need grass outside the door. There is beauty in hard surfaces, especially in certain lights. You have a very artful viewpoint of a metro area that has risen around our natural resources. A well developed and caring investment in our parks system has sure helped too. Nice when the city planners get it right. As always, thanks for the pictures!

    • That’s one of the wonderful amenities about the Twin Cities metro– all of the natural spaces devoted to parks and bikeways, etc. I’ve also seen some lovely gardens. It’s a good thing we all like living in differing places.

  11. Norma Says:

    Beautiful skyline. Beautiful buildings. However, It’s okay to look at, but I could never drive in a large city without being a nervous wreck. I have driven to LAX, and Disneyland. Only one time for each location, and a few years younger. Bakersfield is enough for me.

  12. Brenda Rosin Says:

    I am currently in VA visiting our cousin Kari with my Aunt LaDonna. We went into Washington DC yesterday and walked over 6 miles looking at points of interest. As I looked at the Capitol yesterday I thought of your Minneapolis skyline post! It’s always amazing being in DC but I know by the end of the week I will be ready to drive the gravel roads of MN again!!

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