In the spring of 1960, Minneapolis Star and Tribune photographers Roy Swan and Dwight W. Miller took on an unusual assignment: Wielding large-format 4x5 cameras, they captured images of every corner of downtown Minneapolis.
Over several months they amassed hundreds of black-and-white photos — most of which have lingered in the newspaper’s archives without ever having been published — and they’re a priceless snapshot of a city that’s barely recognizable to contemporary residents.
(Miller died in 1984, Swan in 1996.)
It’s a landscape populated by human-scaled buildings of brick and stone, lively sidewalks, a wealth of homegrown businesses, an absence of skyways (the first one appeared two years later) and ornate, long-gone edifices that underscore the city’s 19th-century roots.
Compare and contrast, 1960 to 2016. In many cases, it’s tough to make the case that today’s streetscape is an improvement over yesterday’s. In Teardownapolis, for every glittering IDS Center there’s a leaden City Center.
Or a parking lot.