The three Nicollet malls

Over the past half-century, the main street of Minneapolis, has undergone one extension and two face-lifts. Here’s a quick look at malls past and present. (Figures are in today’s dollars.)



The original mall, which stretched from Washington Avenue to 10th Street, was designed to make the city’s principal retail district compete with Southdale and other suburban shopping centers. Landscape architect Lawrence Halprin inserted an S-curve into the roadway in each block, — his “urban dance” — and his groundbreaking mix of transit and pedestrian amenities was widely copied. The original cost about $28.5 million. In 1981, the mall was extended four blocks to Grant Street, at a cost of about $14.1 million.

Cost: $42.6 million.



A 1986 study recommended replacing the mall’s crumbling terrazo-brick surface with granite pavers. Instead, the entire mall was eventually remade. The Minneapolis architectural firm BRW replaced Halprin’s sinuous roadway with a gentler C-curve and removed leafy honey locusts in favor of Austrian pines, which quickly (and infamously) died.

Cost: $40.1 million.


Construction, design fees, art, landscaping and other expenses ran $50 million, a mix of state and city funding and property assessments. Metro Transit contributed about $4 million for a dozen bus shelters.

Total: $54 million.

Rick Nelson