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Nicollet Mall

From Academic Kids

View of Nicollet Mall from the skyway
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View of Nicollet Mall from the skyway

Nicollet Mall is the portion of Nicollet Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Along with Hennepin Avenue, it forms the cultural and commercial heart of the city. The Nicollet Mall is an upscale shopping and dining district designed to appeal to the white-collar workers who form much of downtown Minneapolis's daytime community. Office buildings, most notably the IDS Center, and department stores such as Marshall Fields, are located on Nicollet Mall, and the area also includes Orchestra Hall and is conveniently close to the Warehouse District, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, the Minneapolis Convention Center, and the Minneapolis Public Library.

Nicollet Mall has very wide sidewalks surrounding a small 2-lane taxi and buses-only street, promoting a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere. However, bicycles are normally not allowed except for certain windows of time on the weekends. Nicollet Mall itself is only about 11 blocks long, but Nicollet Avenue continues well south of downtown Minneapolis into residential districts of the city. Although Nicollet Avenue's most noteworthy stretch is in the commercial district downtown, in recent years the 12 block stretch of ethnic restaraunts and groceries along Nicollet Avenue just south of downtown, from Grant Street to 29th Street, known as Eat Street has become quite popular.

In the early 1990s, the City of Minneapolis criminalized panhandling, which was then an epidemic problem, on the Nicollet Mall.

Nicollet Avenue was named for early 19th-century French explorer and mapmaker Joseph Nicollet. Nicollet led three expeditions in what is now Minnesota. There are many other landmarks throughout Minneapolis and Minnesota named after Nicollet.

The hat toss by television character Mary Richards in the opening credits of Mary Tyler Moore was filmed on Nicollet Mall at the entrance to the IDS Center. In 2002, the TV Land cable network dedicated and erected a statue of the character across the street from that site, at the corner of 7th Street and Nicollet Mall.

The Hiawatha light-rail line, which opened in 2004, connects Nicollet Mall with other parts of downtown Minneapolis, the Metrodome, portions of southeast Minneapolis, historic Fort Snelling, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and the Mall of America.

Up until the 1950s and 1960s, when the Gateway District urban renewal project leveled much of downtown Minneapolis, the north end of Nicollet Avenue intersected with Hennepin Avenue at a low angle near the Mississippi River. Early in the city's life, the area was known as Bridge Square, and the second city hall sat in the small area between the two avenues. The city hall burned down in 1912, so plans were drawn up in the next few years to turn the plot of land into a grand (at the time) space known as Gateway Park. However, the park stood in an area that became crammed full of flophouses and liquor stores in the following decades, and it was eventually torn down. Images from the park's waning days showed it heavily littered with broken liquor bottles.

Today, the massive intersection between Hennepin and Nicollet is gone. Nicollet Avenue was cut back slightly and now ends at Washington Avenue (a cross street). The building that sits right at the end of Nicollet is the former headquarters of Northwestern National Life Insurance (later owned by Reliastar, now ING), which was designed by Minoru Yamasaki, the same man responsible for the World Trade Center in New York City. Yamasaki also designed another building (known as Reliastar II) next door, and drew up the plans for the Civil Engineering building at the University of Minnesota.

A modest park has been rebuilt on the site and still has a flagpole that is the last remnant of the old Gateway Park.

Farther south on Nicollet Mall is the former flagship Dayton's department store, now a Marshall Fields. It is located just across the street from the IDS Center. Target, which had originally been a branch of the Dayton Company, also has a presence on the mall.

Near the mall's south end sits the studios of WCCO-TV, the only television station to have its primary studios in Minneapolis today.

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