« Social Design Issue: SEMI Area | Main | Phenomena: they are everywhere »

The "Spot"

As a Minneapolis native, I have naturally come to know my surroundings fairly well. During the last two and a half years of my high school experience I was given the privilege of attending The Blake School whose upper school campus is located less than a block away from the Sculpture Garden across from the Walker Art Center. I was highly involved in the visual arts while at Blake and made frequent trips to Utrecht – an art supplies store on the corner of Hennepin and 16th Street. People who are familiar with this area know there is a highway overpass just near here that you have to go under in order to go from the garden to the store.

When you walk beneath the overpass it appears, at first glance, like any other. There are three lanes of one-way traffic heading towards downtown, three more going the opposite direction, and sidewalks on either side. Walking towards downtown, it is hard to miss the sharply slopping wall of concrete shooting up to the supporting elements of what is I-94 West. Driving in a car it would be impossible to see this, but on foot one sees this place serves as much more than a supporting structure for the highway. It is littered with empty beer bottles, cigarette butts, ripped up blankets, lonesome gloves, socks, shirts…the point I’m trying to make here is that it also serves as a home to some of Minneapolis’ homeless. It is possible to walk across the top of this slope, compartmentalized by the beams overhead. This dark, extremely claustrophobic space shows evidence of people have been making these 15 ft long 3 ft high concrete compartments into their beds at night, the cars rumbling above. Among all this misery however there is a glimpse of what I have come to consider beauty. At the end of the overpass there is a spot where it’s possible to climb up to the side of the highway. Two people at the most can fit up here, but it is worth the experience. A dirty chain link fence, a few pipes are all that great you here. One at a time, it is possible if you stand on these pipes to watch the cars zip by on the highway as they come out from the tunnel. Maybe it’s the fear of intruding on someone’s home, or maybe it’s rush air and exhaust coming from the road. Whatever the cause, night or day, I feel an overwhelming sense of excitement when I come to the overpass I have simply come to call “The Spot?.

If I can, I will try to upload some images.