Saturday I drove. I took pictures in the warehouse district, an area of town no longer occupied by warehouses. I’m sure there are a few, but most have been converted to offices and condos. People pay garish amounts of money to live in these places, and having been in a few, I cannot understand the appeal. Parts of the neighborhood have the charm and grace of the factory in the last act of “Full Metal Jacket.” There are no trees. The cobblestoned streets appear to be rehearsing for an earthquake. The views? Well, some have a view of downtown skyline, and as much as I love our downtown skyline, a poster suffices. But I am not the target audience. These are aimed at people who work downtown, and like to think of themselves as someone who ends the day with a clever cocktail and some chilled-out music while they sit on the sleek modern sofa and look at the skyline, feeling urbane and connected to some world-wide urban vibe. I don’t mean to demean; I used to be that way myself. Still, I think I’d wake one day, look out the window at the barren landscape, and ask myself what the hell am I doing living in a paper warehouse?

On the other hand, this neighborhood will be connected to the gigantic Twins Stadium urban village; the pioneers will be repaid. Providing they don’t marry and spawn and move to the neighborhoods that have playgrounds and grass. Which they will. The people who live in this part of town generally don’t have kids, or have had them already. It’s the Land Without Elmo. I suspect that if your baby did start crying at 1 AM, some of the neighbors would regard it like a dog that didn't stop barking. I didn't move here for this.

Every time I visit I find something I’ve missed. It’s usually a new conversion. This, for example, is new to me. It’s a condo built inside an old book distributor warehouse.

It’s the parking ramp of Dr. Caligari! The building on the right is also part of the project; here's a close-up:

And there's a ghost sign. What does it say?

That would be "Valspar Paints and Varnishes." Wonder whatever happened to them.

A few blocks look like old Beruit. Here’s a building utterly gutted for its next life:

Burly men with anchor tattoos worked here once, moving things from one place to another. They ate their lunch from buckets, hit the bars on Washington Avenue for a beer and a shot after work, then took the clattering trolley cars home. Soon soft-handed number wizards will sleep among the pillars.

The views of downtown will be nice, but given the number of empty lots around, it’s likely someone will build structures around it.

I don’t know how I missed this one. For years I've driven around here, and never noted the spiritual twin of the Advance-Thresher building:





Perfecly preserved Sullivanesque architectural details. Prefab? Did they plug the company's name in the middle panel of te cartouche, and sandwich it betwixt ready-made slabs that said "The" and "Co" ? Did I really have to say "betwixt" when "between" would have sufficed? Forgive me. Anyway, it was built in 1910 for an implement dealer you might have heard about. And since the company has Deer in its name, it goes without saying that deer heads flank the entrance:




Apparently this was the local variation of the famous John Deere tradement, and is not considered "official" by the experts. The rest of the building is sober and dull, but my God: two big stone eternal jutting Deer. You cannot ask for more.

My favorite find: a 1920s burglar alarm.

"Always on the job," it says. A bulldog guarding a sack of money. I wonder if it ever rang in anger. He looks almost disappointed that you'd even consider stealing his sack, because now he has to chew your face off. And you don't smell like you taste too good.

Always something new on these trips. And by that I mean, of course, something old.

New Motels - two states! And the Quirk. See you tomorrow, with a BIG honking Screedblog, and the King Features update.


c. j lileks. email may be sent to first name at last name dot com.