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The IDS Center in the 1970s, Minneapolis, Minnesota

When the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis was being built, I was young enough to still be kind of a kid, and old enough to be fascinated by architecture, and design.

My fascination with architecture started at a very young age, when I would assemble the models of buildings that were meant to go with a train set, except that I had no interest in trains. I liked buildings, and I still do. No, I never even considered being an architect (I can't do the math!) but that never stopped me from being fascinated by all types of buildings, especially "skyscrapers".

If you lived in Minneapolis in the 1970s, you know that there was a lot going on downtown. Instead of turning its back on the downtown area, Minneapolis revitalized it. A nice long stretch of Nicollett was closed to cars, and only buses were allowed. And those buses were clean, ran on time, and there were a lot of them. So if you're wondering what someone who was years away from a driver's license was doing there, it was easy to get to (for a quarter!) and safe for pedestrians. And it all centered on the Crystal Court.

The Crystal Court was the name of the main floor of the IDS Center. IDS stood for "Investors Diversified Services", not that it matters. And the Crystal Court was absolutely magical. Certainly it was nothing that I had ever seen before. It was designed to be seen, by humans, from the inside, and for them to say "Oh, ah!" at the way that the glass was designed to look like crystals. And it linked up to a lot of other buildings, on the second floor, through skyways. And that meant that even in the dead of winter, you could take a bus, get off downtown, walk into a skyway, and go to the Crystal Court. And I would meet friends there. We simply had to say "I'll meet you at the Crystal Court".

If you're wondering what my friends and I did there, well, we hung around. Just like hanging around the Southdale Mall. We would walk around and try to look at girls without making eye contact. I don't recall ever buying anything, until I was 18 and I bought an expensive sheepskin-lined leather coat at Berman Buckskin. The next year I moved to Phoenix and left it in Minneapolis. Didn't get much use out of that coat!

In my sheepskin-lined coat from Berman Buckskin, the Crystal Court, IDS Center

I took photos of the IDS Center under construction, from was to that time the tallest building in Minneapolis, the Foshay Tower. I wonder if I still have those photos, I'll look for them! I remember that after the IDS was completed, the architects refused to have antennas stuck on the top, as it would ruin the look of the building. I notice that there are antennas up there now.

The IDS is still the signature building of Minneapolis, and it's still my favorite. I can't imagine a photo of downtown Minneapolis without it. It seems like it's always been there.

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