"Tallest for a Time" by Bill Svoboda

"Tallest for a Time" by Bill Svoboda

Skyscrapers were not always the skyscrapers that we all know today.

The Minneapolis skyline was not always dominated by the Capella Tower, Wells Fargo building or IDS ... at one point this 32 story tower was the tallest building not only in Minneapolis, but anywhere between Chicago and California.

Today however, compared to those other giants, the Foshay would appear short... but for a time, it was the tallest building in Minneapolis, constructed by Wilbur Foshay.

According to WCCO, "as a boy, his dad took him to see the Washington Monument and Foshay was fascinated. So when he made his fortune in utilities, he decided to construct a building using the same floor plan as the Monument he loved. And because the Foshay narrows like the Washington Monument, every floor you go up is 4 inches smaller than the one below it."

Construction began in 1928 and finished in August of 1929, with an estimated price tag of $4,409,633.82 ... by the end it towered over the rest of downtown Minneapolis at over 447 feet tall.

To take advantage of its height, Wilbur constructed an observation deck so visitors could get look across the "downtown" to see the Mississippi River.

MNopedia notes that no expense was spared. "He hired famed sculptor Harriet Frishmuth to cast a bronze statue, Scherzo, for the building's courtyard. An observation deck was added so visitors could get a bird's-eye view of the downtown and Mississippi River. Marble, exotic woods, and bronze decorated the interiors. The twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth floors were occupied by Foshay's lavish private offices and apartment, whose bathrooms boasted gold-plated faucets."

But according to reports, nothing could outdo his opening day celebration which included a three-day event from August 30 to September 1. It featured fireworks, dancing, live bands, and religious services. In fact, it was such a celebration that the Foshay Company paid travel expenses for dozens of dignitaries from across the nation - and each given complimentary gold watches. The total cost was estimated to be $126, 894. And to crown the event in a public spectacle, he dropped a bag full of money from the top of the building to pay the band conductor below.

Unfortunately, it all came at a cost that was very unexpected because following the celebration, Foshay had to visit New York to secure money so that the could keep his company afloat.

Talk about creating a party!

Foshay knew how to throw a party worth being invited to. It's no wonder the Foshay building today houses the W Hotel and the famous Manny's steakhouse.

The next time you're driving through Minneapolis I hope this building evokes a sense of awe ... and maybe you think about a guy at the top, dropping a bag full of money to the band conductor.

What would that be like to go back in time to see this grand opening?

So many memories have been formed in this building - and many more still to come.

So I hope you enjoy this drawing.

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