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

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Minnesota skylines January 28, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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The Minneapolis skyline as photographed from Interstate 35 in Burnsville.

The Minneapolis skyline as photographed from Interstate 35 in Burnsville. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo, June 2015.

MINNESOTA HAS LONG been divided. Rural vs. urban. The area outside the Twin Cities metro is often referred to as Greater Minnesota or Outstate Minnesota. I don’t mind the “greater.” But outstate? Isn’t every inch of land, every single one of our 87 counties, part of the state of Minnesota?

The division of urban and rural is always most noticeable during the legislative session. Or during road construction season.

Silos mark the rural skyline on a farm in the Prior Lake area.

Silos mark the rural skyline on a farm in the Prior Lake area. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Despite our division and differences, we are still Minnesotans. And whether you like the busyness of the city or the quiet of the country, or something in between, you can find your right place in the diverse geography of our state.

The gravel road that runs past my middle brother's rural acreage just north of Lamberton, Minnesota.

Just north of Lamberton, Minnesota, in Redwood County, the county in which I was born. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Follow prairie to the Dakotas and hills to Wisconsin. Angle lakes and canoe winding rivers. Secret yourself away in woods or free your spirit under wide skies. Choose an office cubicle or a tractor cab to box you in. Meander along gravel roads or rush along the interstate.

The downtown Minneapolis skyline, up close.

The downtown Minneapolis skyline, up close. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Whatever your preferred skyline, embrace it. Urban isn’t better than rural and rural isn’t better than urban. Not in the sense of a grand, broad statement. But from a personal perspective, we have our preferences. And that is good. Our state needs balance. And we should respect that.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

I’ll take country over big city any day August 5, 2014

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Approaching downtown Minneapolis. Growing up on a southwestern Minnesota dairy and crop farm, I would travel with my parents and siblings once a year to visit relatives in Minneapolis. We got off at the 46th Street exit.

Approaching downtown Minneapolis. Growing up on a southwestern Minnesota dairy and crop farm, I would travel with my parents and siblings once a year to visit relatives in Minneapolis. We got off at the 46th Street exit. Thankfully lanes have been added since then. But I don’t understand that sign on the left: “RATE TO DOWNTOWN $ AT 42ND.” Whenever I see these signs entering the Cities, I wonder.

I CAN’T RECALL THE LAST TIME I’ve been in downtown Minneapolis. But it’s been more than 30 years since I’ve walked in the heart of the city and I have no intention of visiting anytime soon.

Almost to the I94/35W split near downtown Minneapolis.

The I94/35W split near downtown Minneapolis.

The big city is not for me. Give me wide open space and sky and fields and farms and small towns.

Give me horizontal, not vertical.

Minneapolis presents a photogenic skyline from afar.

Minneapolis presents a photogenic skyline as my husband and I bypass the downtown on our way to visit family in the metro.

Give me alfalfa or soybeans or a cornfield, not concrete and asphalt parking lots and buildings so tall I need to visually strain my eyes to see their tops.

I need to breathe, to see the horizon, to touch the earth.

Oh, you might advise me that I am missing out on cultural and unique dining experiences and whatever else the big city offers. Maybe. But I’ve found my own happiness in “outstate Minnesota,” as the geographical region outside the metro is termed. That moniker, even though I sometimes use it, seems to diminish the importance of anything outside the Twin Cities area.

I am thankful, however, that we don’t all like living in the same place. If that was the situation, there would be no rural, only metro. Or only rural and no cities. That, of course, is oversimplifying, but you get my point. We all crave different environments. That is a good thing.

The curving interstate and speeds of some vehicles can give the illusion of being on a racetrack.

The curving interstate and speeds of some vehicles can give the illusion of being on a racetrack.

I will always prefer a country gravel road over the racetrack craziness, or gridlock, depending, of a Twin Cities area interstate.

A gravel road just north of Lamberton in southwestern Minnesota.

A gravel road just north of Lamberton in southwestern Minnesota. File photo.

But that’s me, deeply rooted in rural Minnesota.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling