Interesting piece at MinnPost on the collision of preservationists and urbanists in Dinkytown. I think it was a mistake to turn down the hotel proposal; the building it would have replaced was nothing special. But the larger point about saving the neighborhood’s character by keeping enough of the undistinguished old commercial structures is valid; at a certain point, you’ve lost everything that made Dinkytown what it was. But then you have to ask whether a neighborhood is ever settled, and whether we’re freezing it at an arbitrary moment. The Dinkytown of yore - Dylan was here! - is irrelevant to most modern occupants, and it might be nostalgia for its post-war / pre-00s days that keeps it from being something more to its current residents. BUT its current residents are transitory; should the neighborhood be sacrificed to accommodate people who pass through in four years and move on? And so on.
Which brings us to this all picture.
It’s about nine inches long. Scanned at 600 dpi, it yields all sorts of bygone information. Signs like this would be revered today; back then, they were Blight.
Back then the area was filled with transients, and no doubt places like the Hub were rather . . . fragrant. The windows seem designed so you couldn't see in side, and if you were huddled indoors over a Gluek, all you could see of the outside world was the big blue sky. If you needed something to soak up the hooch, there was Han's next door:
If any of this had survived to the present day, no one dare tear it down. The buildings might be integrated into larger structures. But tear it down they did, and it took decades for the area to recover.
Billboards were blight, too:
I'd still take that over a parking lot. Regular meals! At all hours!
So the preservations have a point. If most of the buildings on that block had been torn down, the street would have lost its character, and while it was ratty and down-at-the-mouth, it could have been reclaimed. In the end we got housing and Whole Foods, and the area is revived. But nothing at all like it was. But the urbanists have a point as well; left alone the block would have been a dump that dragged everything else down with it. There has to be a way to save the street and build up the blocks, and if that means landmarking two corners of Dinkytown and letting the others change, everyone's unhappy and everyone's served.