Downtown: Minneapolis in the 1970s
The spirit of a vibrant city at a critical time, recalled in images and words that delight those who experienced it—and those who wish they had.
Dayton’s was in its prime, the new Nicollet Mall was full of people, the Foshay Tower was still king, and the IDS Center was beginning its rise. Bustling sidewalks teemed with shoppers and businessmen, young and old, no matter what the weather, because the skyway system was just being born. Downtown Minneapolis in the early 1970s was a scene.
Mike Evangelist, a seventeen-year-old from the suburbs, found everything about the city to be amazing. This “introvert with a camera” turned his lens to the scenes around him—young women hitching a ride, a disabled vet selling pencils, stylish shoppers strolling Nicollet Mall, once-grand movie houses on Hennepin Avenue—capturing a vibrant and rapidly changing city. Forty years later, he has unearthed this trove of images that vividly reflect a memorable time in Minneapolis. Writer and artist Andy Sturdevant, who has been called “the preeminent wit, flaneur, and psycho-historian of the Twin Cities,” explores these streets as a congenial companion, commenting with a sharp eye and thoughtful insights.
Mike Evangelist is an enthusiastic photographer and marketing executive specializing in high technology products. Follow him @mikeevangelist
Andy Sturdevant, an artist, writer, and arts administrator, writes about art, history, and culture for a variety of Twin Cities–based publications and websites.
“Mike takes us on a visual odyssey of a Minneapolis long gone by. A compelling look at a city on the verge of social and political change; the home of Hubert Humphrey and Mary Tyler Moore. A place where Purple People Eaters reigned supreme before the world heard of Purple Rain. It’s a lovely remembrance of the Minneapolis that once was—and a thoughtful look at how far we’ve come.”
Robyne Robinson, Arts and Culture Director, Airport Foundation MSP
“I prowled the streets and avenues and establishments of Minneapolis in the 1970s as a cub. Mike and Andy have stopped a clock that has been slowly ticking. I remember, vividly, these stories, the buildings, and even the faces look familiar. It is a family album long lost, returned at long last.”
Don Shelby, former anchor and reporter for WCCO-TV and Radio
“The seventies weren’t the best time for downtown Minneapolis, but they may well be the most interesting. These extraordinary pictures of our history help guide our future.”
R. T. Rybak, executive director of Generation Next and former mayor of the city of Minneapolis
“There’s a nostalgic pleasure in looking at Mike Evangelist’s photographs of Minneapolis in the 1970s. But the greater pleasure, for me, is in inhabiting the eyes of the shy suburban teenager who made these pictures. Evangelist’s nervous thirst for the world blossoming (and decaying) around him is contagious.”
Alec Soth, photographer and author of Sleeping by the Mississippi