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The Twin Cities’ most beloved tourist attractions of 2115

MinnPost illustration by Andy Sturdevant
U.S. Bank Stadium Ruins and Avian Memorial

It’s Christmas Eve today, which means dozens and perhaps hundreds of writers across America are overdoing it on the egg nog, passing out by the hearth, and being visited in their childhood homes by the ghosts of their future selves, who are dictating their weekly columns to them. That’s what happened to me, anyway – a strange vision of a grizzled, bearded man calling himself Andrew “Skip” Sturdevant III appeared before me as I lay on the couch in my parent’s basement, bringing me a hazy but somehow familiar vision of Stroll columns yet to come.

I was going to write about the twenty most fascinating Christmas light displays of Greater Longfellow, but I had no choice to pre-empt that for this vision he revealed me – a highlight reel of the Twin Cities’ most beloved tourist attractions of the far-off year of 2115. 

Amy Klobuchar Presidential Library and Museum
In a sleepy residential neighborhood of Plymouth sits an unremarkable suburban home. The chain-link fence, mailbox and green plastic StarTribune newspaper box, backyard and driveway – from which Klobuchar announced her first run for U.S. Senate in 2006 – is preserved to look very much like it would have in the mid- to late-20th century, when the former president was growing up. Behind this modest plot of land, however, is an imposing glass-and-marble spiral housing the Klobuchar Library and Museum.

Early critics and preservationists complained that it looked very out of place against the serene suburban landscape, but since it opened in 2037, it’s become a popular tourist attraction and local icon. Here, visitors learn the story of President Klobuchar’s rise to prominence.

In the wide-open 2020 field, following Hillary Clinton’s narrow loss to Jeb Bush in 2016, the senator from Minnesota defeated a wide field of Democratic challengers and then the incumbent president to become America’s first female commander-in-chief. During her two terms in office (handily defeating Rand Paul in 2024), she became an inspiring leader during some of the worst crises of the 21st century, including the first SuperRecession and its follow-up, SuperRecession II: The Reckoning.

The neighborhood surrounding the Klobuchar library, too, has become a sort of heritage village of mid-20th century vernacular architecture, styles which have long since disappeared from the west metro – the ramblers, ranch houses and vinyl siding-clad split-levels are beautifully preserved examples of the dwellings popular during Klobuchar’s idyllic Midwestern youth.

St. Anthony Falls
When the St. Anthony Lock and Dam No. 1 closed in 2015, it seemed to be the final chapter in the ongoing story of the deindustrialization of the Upper Mississippi River. Barge traffic on this part of the river is well out of living memory, and most people find it surprising to learn there was ever a lock and dam on this part of the river. The St. Paul end of the river has slowly reindustrialized over the past few decades, as barges once again became a more economically feasible way to ship raw materials from the Northern Plains to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Upper River, though, is known for one resilient American industry: weddings. Over the course of the 2040s and ’50s, a massive project to restore the Falls to their pre-1850 shape and form changed the face of the river and downtown Minneapolis. Falling sixty feet on a reconstituted bed of jagged limestone, the restored Falls slowly became a major Upper Midwestern tourist attraction, eventually surpassing the decaying Wisconsin Dells and then, eventually, Mt. Rushmore in number of annual visitors. An industry of hotels, chapels and tourist attractions catering to everyone from Lutheran factory farm runaways to cosmopolitan same-sex couples grew up around the Falls over the last half of the 21st century, mostly on the Northeast side of the river. As a generation backlashed against the late marriages of their millenial parents, weddings came earlier and earlier (and, as life expectancies increased, more frequently).

The downtown side has consistently been home to a green ribbon of parks and mill ruins, contrasting woth the somewhat seedy Northeast side. The interests of park supporters and the wedding industry have made for some strange and interesting clashes over the years, and this lively mix has contributed to Minneapolis’ image in the popular imagination as the City of Parks, Tap Rooms and Chapels.

U.S. Bank Stadium Ruins and Avian Memorial
A century ago, to great fanfare, U.S. Bank Stadium opened in Downtown East in Minneapolis. Little did the celebrants know that it would be the final football stadium in the United States built with public money, and indeed, the final home for the Minnesota Vikings football club. Fans begrudgingly held out hope throughout a decade-and-a-half of lackluster play; the team was more unpopular than ever, but the league it was part of had become even more unpopular. By then, the NFL was facing more and more lawsuits, and advertisers were starting to pull up stakes.

The stadium, built on the cheap, began to decay, as did the never-occupied Yard surrounding it. In 2029, less than thirty years after it was built, the Vikings moved to Lubbock, Texas. By then, the NFL had regressed into a small-scale, regional phenomenon with no real influence or audience outside parts of Texas, Oklahoma and the lower Plains states (in fact, the Lubbock Vikings won Super Bowl LXIV two years later against the Abilene Seahawks). 

The stadium remained vacant for some time, falling into disrepair, its mighty, angular steel girders stripped bare of glass and creating an eerie, ghostlike contour against the skyline. City officials wanted it razed for ten years, but its disintegration happened to align with the rise of neo-ruinism, a popular theory of architecture gaining traction in the 2040s and early ’50s. Neo-ruinists revived the Romantic era notion of a building’s “ruin value,” insisting the collapsing vestiges of industrial and post-industrial society remain untouched, to be integrated eventually into the urban landscape.

The stadium was one of the great landmark works of neo-ruinism, its rotting façade allowed to give way to thick, green overgrowth. In 2070, the site was declared a bird sanctuary, in memorial to the thousands of birds killed in flight during the stadium’s years as a glass-clad football arena.

National Somali-American Cultural Center and Museum
In 2111, the National Somali-American Cultural Center celebrated its centennial anniversary – quite an achievement for a museum whose first physical space was on the second floor of a Lake Street building in 2013, then known as the Somali Artifact and Cultural Museum. The museum’s growth was a slow but steady one. Eventually growing out of its home in south Minneapolis, it moved to a larger building on the West Bank in 2028, on the site of the old Dania Hall on Cedar Avenue. By 2070, that building had grown too small to accommodate the growing collection and programs, and was moved across the street to a large campus in the shadow of the Cedar-Riverside Plaza Towers (designated a National Historic Landmark District in 2023).

By the turn of the 21st century, it was a popular landmark and destination for fourth- and fifth-generation Somali-Americans all over the United States. The West Bank neighborhood has since changed in intervening decades; it became a popular resettlement destination for climate change refugees in the 2080s and ’90s, as Minneapolis’ population swelled in tandem with rising global temperatures. In fact, there was some hubbub from preservationists when the last of the old-time halal butcher shops in the neighborhood closed in 2103. But the Cultural Center remains a key part of the culture of the West Bank as it enters its third century as a destination for immigrants coming to Minnesota.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by William Lindeke on 12/24/2014 - 01:55 pm.

    the only caveat

    …is the phrase “built on the cheap.” If only that were true!

  2. Submitted by Kathy Ingulsrud on 12/25/2014 - 12:04 pm.

    Thanks Andy

    Hilarious and creative predictions — Looking forward to sharing with our Millennial daughter and niece during Christmas dinner!

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