Minneapolis Landmark Foshay Tower

What was inspired by The Washington Monument, was the first skyscraper to be built west of the Mississippi River, and was the first building built completely by an all-union labor force?

If you answered The Foshay Tower you either know a lot about Minneapolis history, or you have visited the Foshay Museum and Observation Deck.

Located at the top of the Foshay Tower, which is now the hotel W – The Foshay, the museum and observation deck provide a wealth of knowledge and history, not only about the Foshay Tower, but also about Minneapolis during the time the Tower was built.

Business tycoon Wilbur Burton Foshay announced in 1927 that he would begin construction on a building in downtown Minneapolis that would be modeled after the Washington Monument. He had visited Washington, DC as a teenager and was very impressed with what he saw. He proclaimed to his father that if he ever were to be a successful businessman and have enough money, he would build a building that would reproduce the best features of the Washington Monument.

That building – the Foshay Tower – was completed on August 30, 1929, and Foshay marked the completion with a 3-day celebration that was attended by governors, dignitaries, and  the like. Foshay even commissioned John Philip Sousa to write a march called  “Foshay Tower – A Washington Memorial,”  which Sousa performed at the event.

When all was said and done, Foshay spent $3.75 million to build his tribute to the Washington Monument. Shortly thereafter, the stock market crashed and the country fell into the Great Depression.

The Foshay Tower is significant to Minneapolis for a number of reasons. First, it was the first skyscraper built west of the Mississippi, and at 32-stories tall, it remained the tallest building in Minneapolis from 1929 until 1971, when the IDS surpassed it.

Despite losing its status as the tallest building in Minneapolis, the Foshay has maintained its place it peoples hearts as well as in the Minneapolis skyline. For example, a yellow ribbon was wrapped around the building in 1981 during the Iranian Hostage crisis. Once the hostages were released, the ribbon was moved to the Minnesota State Capitol where people could sign it. Today, the ribbon is at the Minnesota Historical Society.

Then, in 1987 when the Minnesota Twins won the World Series, a 50-foot by 50-foot banner hung on the tower congratulating the team for their banner year. At the time, it was the largest banner ever installed on a high-rise office building.

And lets not forget about the “Foshay” lights, which are displayed on all four sides of the building, just below the top. The lights that spell out “Foshay” are 10-feet tall and 44-feet across. Nine hundred 60-watt light bulbs are used to light them.

So, how can you get to the Foshay Museum and Observation Deck?

Tickets can be purchased at the front desk of the W Minneapolis. Adults are $8, Seniors/Students/Teens are $5, and kids 12 and under are free.

Once tickets have been purchased, you’ll get a key-card to Elevator 1, which will take you up to the 30th floor, where the museum is. There, enjoy learning about the history of the Tower, some of the key players involved with building it, and some interactive exhibits about Minneapolis, including when and why the Foshay Tower became a W hotel.

Then, you’ll take one flight of steps up to the Observation Deck which provides a panoramic view of Minneapolis. And, if you’re lucky to go on a clear day, you can see for approximately 30 miles. But, if you go in the winter, bundle up. The Observation Deck is not heated! Don’t let the cold weather stop you though. It’s a great place to go in the winter, summer or anytime.

Foshay Museum and Observation Deck is open Mon – Sat from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sunday from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Observation Deck is not wheelchair accessible.
Foshay Museum & Observation Deck
W-Minneapolis – The Foshay
821 Marquette Avenue, Minneapolis
612.215.3783

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