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Down and Out

The Life and Death of Minneapolis’s Skid Row

2002
Authors:

Edwin C. Hirschoff and Joseph Hart

Down and Out

An elegiac look at a lost piece of Minneapolis’s past.

An elegiac look at the demise of Minneapolis’s skid row, known as the Gateway district: once a lively area of dozens of bars, flophouses, pawnshops, burlesque houses, charity missions, and office buildings aged past their prime.

Minneapolis lost yet another piece of its architectural heritage when the Gateway District was demolished in the name of progress. If the area had been revitalized instead of destroyed, it would today almost certainly be the most vibrant part of the city’s downtown. Down and Out is a poignant story of those who inhabited the Gateway as well as an eloquent reminder of what Minneapolis has lost. I highly recommend it.

Richard Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Minneapolis’s skid row, known as the Gateway district, was a lively area consisting of dozens of bars, flophouses, pawnshops, burlesque houses, charity missions, and office buildings that had aged past their prime. Encompassing some twenty-five blocks centering on the intersection of Hennepin, Washington, and Nicollet Avenues, the neighborhood was demolished between 1959 and 1963 as part of the first federally funded urban renewal project in America. Gathered here for the first time, Edwin C. Hirschoff’s stark and moving images of the Gateway district’s final days-its streets, buildings, and parks, the rubble, smoke, and heavy equipment of its destruction-eloquently capture its demise. Down and Out provides a unique historical perspective and the most extensive photographic record available of the Gateway demolition project.

Joseph Hart’s engaging and comprehensive essay complements Hirschoff’s photographs by detailing the district’s social and economic evolution and the political decision making that led to its destruction. Hart presents a popular history of Minneapolis’s skid row and the people who lived there, migrant workers who learned that changes in the local economy could quickly degrade their status from valued laborer to societal menace (vagrant, tramp, or bum). By capturing the texture of life on skid row, Hart reveals the lost American culture of a bygone community.

A creative photographer, entrepreneur, and inventor, Edwin C. Hirschoff (19??-2002) had a successful career in public relations before founding Art-o-graph, a Minneapolis business that has prospered for more than half a century. Born in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1905, he lived in Minneapolis for almost ninety years.


Down and Out

Joseph Hart is a writer, editor, and teacher living in Minneapolis. A former staff writer at City Pages, he is a freelance journalist who writes for local and national publications.

A creative photographer, entrepreneur, and inventor, Edwin C. Hirschoff (1905–2002) had a successful public relations career in Minneapolis before founding Art-O-Graph, a business that prospered for more than half a century.

Down and Out

Minneapolis lost yet another piece of its architectural heritage when the Gateway District was demolished in the name of progress. If the area had been revitalized instead of destroyed, it would today almost certainly be the most vibrant part of the city’s downtown. Down and Out is a poignant story of those who inhabited the Gateway as well as an eloquent reminder of what Minneapolis has lost. I highly recommend it.

Richard Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

What I like about this extremely well done book is the combination of social, political, and architectural perspectives in one concise, elegantly written package-something no previous historian of the Gateway has accomplished.

Larry Millett, author of Lost Twin Cities

Every once in a while a good coffee table book will come along which will not only make an elaborate gift, but also provide the recipient with some intellectual or historical or cultural material to chew upon. This year’s winner by several lengths is Down and Out.

Dave Wood’s Book Report

The photos and the essay illustrate each other, conveying a sense of loss as they describe the dramatic surgical removal of a community, buildings and all.

The Corresponder