The Old Library
Minneapolis has built three central libraries in the last 125 years. The first opened in 1889, the second opened on January 28, 1961 at 4th and Nicollet. The four-story building included a library, planetarium, auditorium, and a small basement museum complete with Egyptian mummies. The location in the “lower loop” made the library a cornerstone of the 1960 redevelopment of downtown Minneapolis. Sculptor John Rood cast “The Scroll” the new Central Library in 1959. The work was meant to symbolize of the library’s role in preserving and providing access to the writings, thoughts, and history of mankind. It took me a long time to figure out what it was. My earliest memory of the downtown library is a friendly old hobo calling to me from the opposite escalator as we passed,
“Hey Kid! Looks like you’re going to heaven and I’m going to hell.”
I can’t say I miss the place, but we all spent a great deal of time there and it was nice to have a planetarium in town. A bonding authorization of $22 million for a new planetarium was cancelled in the July 2011 special “Government Shutdown” session of the Minnesota Legislature.