With Books as a Catalyst, Minneapolis Neighborhood Revives
"Along Washington Avenue, between the University of Minnesota and downtown Minneapolis, there were acres of parking lots, a large warehouse-style liquor store and a smattering of commercial spaces that had once served the thriving flour mill district along the Mississippi River, but later became seedy bars and flophouses.
The city tried to rebrand the area as a technology corridor, but not a single dot-com materialized. Instead, three nonprofit organizations formed a partnership in 1999, bought three adjacent warehouses and renovated them into Open Book, which says it is the largest — if not the only — literary and book arts center in the United States.
It is not uncommon for the arts to revitalize a neighborhood, but it is certainly unusual for old-fashioned literature and books to lead the way.
Since Open Book made its debut in May 2000, however, a steady flow of arts organizations have followed, including the Guthrie Theater, designed by Jean Nouvel, who recently won the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Then there is the Mill City Museum, the MacPhail Center for Music, Minneapolis Central Library and a few smaller theaters and art galleries."