The corner of Washington and Marquette avenues, looking north.
In the distance, the new Post Office, glowing with all the promise of modern streamlined architecture; in the middle, Nate’s clothiers, which didn’t leave downtown until 2009.
The drugstore on the corner is the oldest building in the picture — over 40 years old by the time this picture was taken.
The Gateway District had a paradoxical identity: It’s what the transients called home. The railroad workers between jobs, the alcoholics dozing away a day in the nearby park on Nicollet, people who got off the train at the Great Northern or Milwaukee Road station and headed to the Hotel Minnesotan for the night on a creaky bed.
It’s a ramshackle neighborhood, but lively. Not a fragrant place, but even in black and white it’s colorful.
Almost everything in this picture — the trolleys, the busy streets, the bright signs — are urban staples we’d love to see again. Almost everything in this picture was razed in the name of progress, replaced by parking lots for a few decades, and then filled in here and there with tall buildings.
The streets are usually empty now. There’s no reason to stop. Whatever spirit animated this corner of the Gateway District, it lay down for good when this scene was erased.