This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Urban renewal done right?

Posted by: James Lileks under Architecture, Minnesota History, Technology Updated: February 25, 2014 - 1:49 PM

To continue yesterday’s discussion of old vs. historic: here’s the West Bank block where Washington curves into Cedar, circa 1960. Great signs and a marvelous piece of neon - yes, the cowboy’s lariat was animated - but it’s showing its age. One good shove and the whole thing might go down.

Here’s the site today.

The Sgt. Preston’s building is the same, but the two-story commercial structure next to it has been replaced with a four-story structure, an apartment building.

Let’s take a look at that complex from space. (Apologies if there's a hunk of irrelevant post for the next few paragraphs - cut and paste error, and I can't seem to purge it from the post. Yet. If you see a Google view below, NEVERMIND.)


View Larger Map

Huge. There’s no way that thing would be considered in character with the rest of the neighborhood, except that the neighborhood itself was blasted to bits by freeways and other projects. But I wonder if they could build it today, or whether the charms and historic nature of the old building would take precedence over anything else. Including an extraordinary amount of useful student housing.

As long as we’re looking the old Seven Corners, here are a few more details from 1960. The block wasn’t exactly at its best. The neighborhood was shabby, like most of the Washington Avenue corridor.

You suspect the clock hadn't worked for a year or two. 

Wildest traders in town! Yeeeee hah! The neon cowboy ended up in a bar in the Holiday Inn, called the Neon Cowboy, but was removed at some point. I've no idea where it is now. 

The Minnesota Grill: there's a bright merry cove to spend your lunch in a beer-soaked stupor. It was also, at some point, the Mixers:

The octagonal design in the windows, the glass blocks - late 30s or early 40s. The fire escape gives it a picturesque quality we associate with Real Cities. You wonder if they'd come right off the side of the wall if anyone actually tried to use them.

It's cleaner now. It's better. It's not as interesting as the messy old streetscape in the old pictures, but it's more useful. There's always a tradeoff. 

INTERNET CULTURE Did anyone still believe the Goldman Sachs Elevator Conversation twitter feed was real? Nothing that good is real. I stopped believing it was real a long time ago. NYT:

The Twitter account, @GSElevator, reports overheard remarks like, “I never give money to homeless people. I can’t reward failure in good conscience,” and “Groupon…Food stamps for the middle class.” The Twitter account, which has an audience of more than 600,000 followers, has been the subject of an internal inquiry at Goldman to find the rogue employee.

Anything that confirms your worst suspicions so effectively and consistently is a fake. Sure enough, the guy who’s supposedly been tweeting Wall Street conversation lives . . . well, I won’t spoil it.

Speaking of fake things: goodbye to 744K Bitcoins. Wired:

Mt. Gox, once the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, has gone offline, apparently after losing hundreds of millions of dollars due to a years-long hacking effort that went unnoticed by the company.

Add this to the legal problems of other bit coin exchanges, and people are saying it’s the end of virtual currency. Nonsense! People are still using this stuff as a medium all over the world, right?

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