Unearthed photos: Downtown Minneapolis in the 1970s

Share story

World Theater on 7th Street, March 1972
A Clockwork Orange lets out at the World Theater on 7th Street, March 1972.
Courtesy Mike Evangelist
Cover, Minneapolis in the 1970s
The cover of 'Downtown'
Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Step back in time to 1970s Minneapolis.

Downtown was another world: Crowds strolled through Dayton's. Foshay Tower was the tallest thing around. IDS was just beginning to rise.

Mike Evangelist was a teenager at the time. He lived in New Brighton, Minn., but he landed a job at the Minneapolis post office, which brought him downtown every day after school.

He remembers getting off the bus at the newly-opened Nicollet Mall and wandering the streets before his shift. That's when he would take his photographs.

He took hundreds of them from '72 to '74, capturing the architecture, the street life, the billboards and the businesses — many of which have since shuttered and closed.

He developed the film in his high school yearbook darkroom, but he made only a few prints. That meant he never saw most of his photographs any larger than 1 inch by 1.5 inches on the contact sheet. Until now.

Two years ago, he dug them out of a box in his closet. Now, they're the centerpiece of the book, "Downtown: Minneapolis in the 1970s," with text by Andy Sturdevant. Evangelist and Sturdevant joined MPR News' Tom Weber to talk about the book and how downtown once looked.

"You're seeing downtown through the eyes of this 17-year-old kid from the suburbs," Sturdevant said of the collection. "And he's just excited about all of it."

An exhibit of Evangelist's photographs will be on display at the Mill City Museum through April 3. Tonight, the museum will host an opening reception and reading from the book. Full details are available from the Minnesota Historical Society.

Before you go...

MPR News is dedicated to bringing you clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives when we need it most. We rely on your help to do this. Your donation has the power to keep MPR News strong and accessible to all during this crisis and beyond.