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November 20, 2004


Before I ever rode the HI-line, or Hiawatha light rail line for the rail-virgins out there, I had eagerly anticipated its arrival in Minnesota. I love to travel on rails and throughout my 29 years I have had the opportunity to have several rail adventures in our great country called America. The first one I was ever seduced by was by that great open rail of North America called the Amtrak. Oh yeah I was only 18 and eager to see some country, and Amtrak she spoke to me in a language I could understand. It was the All Aboard Fare 169 for 45 days of travel and three stops any where in the U.S. What more could I ask for? I went to Arizona via the Great Plains, San Diego and then up the coast to Seattle and back to Minneapolis through the Rockies. Wow what a trip! I loved traveling in the train with all the observation decks, through the most amazing scenery, going the pace of the great expanse of this continent. For anyone who has ever traveled on a bus you would appreciate the ability to get up and walk around on a train.
After that trip, which had lots of great stories enmeshed in it, I sought out rails wherever I traveled to; the subways of New York, the L of Chicago, the Bart of San Fran, and my favorite the street cars of New Orleans. All these rails add so much character to a city. So as an amateur connoisseur, I was eagerly awaiting Minneapolis’s contribution to the world of rails.
After I rode the HI-Line I can say that I can add it to my list of rails I love. I liked being able to see the city from a different perspective. I usually drive wherever I go, which makes it challenging to see many perspectives of the city without crashing my car. The Hi line seemed to be very user friendly: the size of the cars, their comfort, and cleanliness. I rode at about from about 2-3:30pm and there were a lot of commuters a couple of which had bikes that they hung against the walls next to the doors.
Although I found all of the stations I stopped at interesting I was really pulled in by the Warehouse district station. It is the last stop in downtown Minneapolis. From a distance it looks really boring, plain red brick structures with that pale in comparison to the colorful glass structures that adorn other stations at Lake St. or Minnehaha. But on closer examination I found the these simply structures to tell a more interesting story than the other more “artfully’ done stations that dot the HI-line. Set within the bricks are black and white pictures. Pictures of the past. One picture caught my eye especially. It’s a picture from the warehouse district in the 1920’s. It spoke to me of a type of somnambulism I hadn’t really considered yet. The picture is from a riot that happened in 1929 between the civil police and union protesters. It’s an amazing picture of a man lying on the ground in a Minneapolis street after being hit by another man holding a stick. Whack!! I an almost hear it. I look around at the buildings surrounding this station imagining a 1920’s city engulfed in rage and protest. Where was the spot here that man fell? Did he live? What were they fighting for? I may have never known about those riots had I never seen this picture, I probably wouldn’t have connected the feeling of history in a place if I saw the picture while inside a library or bookstore. It revealed the somnambulism of time. Underneath the layers of 75 five years of city life was a dark, violent, and explosive moment in our cities life. Whack!!

Posted by kirk0125 at November 20, 2004 6:27 PM | Stories and Storytellers


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