06 Nov Stepping Back in Time at the Foshay Tower Observation Deck
One of my favorite things to do when visiting a city is soak up the view from above, either from the tallest building or a unique landmark. Even though we love exploring nature when we travel, the energy of a city always makes me feel alive, and I like to gaze at a skyline any chance I get, especially at night. Despite of this, I have never thought to check out an observation deck in my own hometown. How is this possible? I’m not sure, but I bet it was partly because I thought the only one in Minneapolis had closed. The IDS Center, the tallest building in Minneapolis, had an observation deck located on the 51st floor, but it closed in 1983. So with that in mind, I didn’t think to check if there was another one until we moved back home earlier this year. When I found out the Foshay Tower had a little known Museum and Observation Deck, I just knew we had to check it out.
The Foshay Tower was built in the 1920’s; with 32 floors, it stands at the height of 447 ft. At the time of completion, it was the tallest building in the city, and it remained that way until the IDS Center was built in 1972. Wilbur Foshay built the tower to fulfill a lifelong dream of building a building to resemble the Washington Monument. He was a young boy when he created that goal, and he finally completed the goal in his 40’s.
Foshay had planned to make the 27th and 28th floors his home, but due to the Great Depression, he fell short on his debt payments and was never able to move in. Now, the 27th floor is home to the Prohibition Sky Bar, which we recently checked out as well, and let me tell you, it’s a pretty cool spot. I can’t vouch for the weekends, as I imagine it gets pretty busy, but our visit on a Tuesday night was perfect. You feel like you are taking a step back in time when entering the dimly lit lounge, and the multiple rooms with quiet coves make you almost feel like you are hanging out at someone’s home.
The building had been used as offices for many years, but in 2006, the W Hotel took over and now the Foshay Tower is home to one of the best hotels in the city. The observation deck and museum are located on the 30th floor, and I’m so glad they kept it open for visitors. To visit the observation deck, you need to pay your admission and get a key from the front desk of the hotel before heading up to the 30th floor.
We visited the observation deck during the week, and it was very quiet—we only saw one other group of visitors the entire time we were there. The museum provides a look into the history of the building and Minneapolis during the time the building was built. There are newspaper clippings, letters, memorabilia, photos and even an interactive video screen in the museum.
After a look around the museum, we made our way up the staircase to the observation deck. The deck is outside and has a metal railing that creates almost a cage around the entire deck. We ran around the deck excitedly to look out over the city we have called home for so many years.
As we peered out into the city, we couldn’t help but search for landmarks and our favorite places. Today there are many buildings in the city that tower over the Foshay, but I actually felt that this gives you a unique view of the city—you aren’t looking down at all the buildings but are standing high in the sky amongst them.
It was a great experience, and one I would definitely recommend if you have an hour or so to spare in downtown Minneapolis. Currently, tickets cost $8 per person and it is only open from 10 a.m.-6p.m. daily with shorter hours on Sunday. I would have loved to see the skyline at night from the observation deck, but unfortunately it wasn’t open late enough, so I suppose I have to “settle” with the view from the Prohibition Bar three floors down. Either that, or brave the winter cold when the sun sets all too early before 5 p.m.!