The sprawling Minneapolis skyway system contains nearly 9 miles of enclosed walkways winding through downtown. Here is a guide from one veteran skywalker.
City mouse, country mouse: Skyways in the downtown core are like bustling city streets, with lots of people, lots of shops and lots of activity — think Uptown Minneapolis or Grand Avenue in St. Paul. But those on the edges of downtown are more like two-lane rural highways: long, lonely thoroughfares meant simply to bring you to civilization.
Most likely place to get lost: There are a number of confusing spots in the skyways, but the Medical Arts Building is one place it’s especially easy to lose your way. To continue indoors, you have to maneuver through narrow hallways, go down an escalator, then locate another escalator back up to skyway level in the next building.
Sci-fi scenery: The underground passage leading from Minneapolis City Hall to the Jerry Haaf Memorial Ramp is straight out of a dystopian science-fiction flick. You can imagine storm troopers herding you through this tunnel to a horrible fate. Soylent Green is people!
A dead end: Skyway users may find themselves at an unexpected dead end in the heart of downtown when they reach Xcel Energy’s offices on the Nicollet Mall. Only employees are allowed to use the skyway that crosses the mall.
Take a quick detour: If you step out of the skyway at a few key points, you can take in some marvelous building lobbies. Minneapolis City Hall, Butler Square, the Medical Arts Building and the Rand Tower are well worth checking out.
A place to relax: There are more and more public spaces where skyway travelers can sit down and relax in pleasant surroundings. Some of the best are in the Fifth Street Towers, Baker Center and 100 Washington Square.
History lessons: The skyway at the Wells Fargo towers, near U.S. Bank Stadium, features marvelous wall photomurals showing the growth of downtown Minneapolis through the decades. The Young Quinlan building on the Nicollet Mall has an exquisite display of artifacts tracing the history of this gem of a building.