On Saturday I hopped on the ol’ Metro Transit route 16 and rode into downtown Minneapolis for the Twin Cities Book Festival to see Chris Baty speak (author of No Plot? No Problem! and founder of National Novel Writing Month). He was great, funny and encouraging, just like the book.
But most of all I enjoyed the bus ride. It was the exact same route I took the entire two and a half years I worked at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The Book Festival was held at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), across the street from where I used to work.
The sites from the #16 sure have changed in the year and a few months since I stopped regularly riding.
On the corner of Lexington & University the old shopping center behind White Castle is being torn down to make way for an Aldi grocery store (with a Rainbow and Cub just down University this seems kind of silly, but whatever). Since I go by this corner every day I already knew it was coming down, but I got to see the carnage up close.
University Avenue is now the “proud” home of two adult entertainment stores within a few blocks from one another. How is it that an area that previously had zero such stores can now support two?
The Burger King across from Ax Man’s is now “Chicken & Fish” — I wish I had a picture of their new sign. The Embers across the street from that is now a South China Sea restaurant.
A little farther down at University & Prior the new Menards is almost open and looking sharp. It sure beats the delapidated hotel that used to occupy that corner (of course there’s still a dive of a hotel across the street).
At that point I settled into my book and didn’t notice much until we pulled into the Minneapolis downtown zone. The new light rail Hiawatha line was in full effect, rather impressive looking (if pointless from my perspective in St. Paul).
When the 16 finally came to a stop at 4th & Niccolet I saw the wonder that is the new Minneapolis Library. I watched them tear down the old one, and now the five stories of the new one tower above the street, though it’s mainly just pillars and floors. It’s supposed to open in 2006.
At this point I switch buses and hop any of a handful of routes that head down Hennepin Avenue. From this vantage point I saw the old Fairmont building, which is soon to become the fancy new boutique hotel, the Chambers Hotel.
Finally I get off the bus at Spruce & Hennepin, across the street from the former headquarters of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, soon to be the expanded home of MCTC. What a ride. I should spend a Saturday rehashing my former life more often.