When I first came to Minneapolis, there was a small sign above a side street door that always gave me amusement: Syndicate Block. Did the Mafia own this thing?

It was a bland beige building, a solid block, clad in metal panels sporting a jaunty Penney’s logo. I had no idea what was under the metal; few did. Then the wrecking ball came, and for a day or two, you saw the 19th century brought out into the light again. Under the modern facade was a building constructed in 1883. The hyperbolic newspaper accounts that heralded any new building back then usually proclaimed that the structure was the biggest, most modern, most wonderful structure erected by the hand of man, and that it would surely last for a hundred years. They usually lasted 30, or 40. This one hit a hundred and kept counting. She went down in 1989.

It was always the Penney’s building to me, and I never understood the Syndicate name over the side door. But the old, old-timers did. It stood for a century and never lost its name. A round of applause, please, and a salute.