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Answer Man: City’s skyway system began in 1980s

August 10, 2018

Dear Answer Man: I’ve found that using the skyways is the best way to avoid all the construction going on in downtown Rochester. How long has the skyway system been in place? – A frustrated downtown worker

Dear frustrated: I share your pain, especially since we’re still waiting for a skyway connection to Answer Man World HQ. You’re right; getting around on foot at street level in the downtown area these days is only slightly easier than scaling Everest. So we find ourselves using the skyways (and subways) more than ever, even in this beautiful summer weather.

According to the voluminous files in the Answer Man library, Rochester City Council took a serious look at building skyways back in the mid-1970s. For several reasons, those plans were shelved until a decade later, when the Centerplace development, which stretched over three city blocks, was constructed.

The initial skyways opened in 1989 and have since been joined by others. Anyone who knows how to connect the skyways and subways can now stroll through most of downtown without ever stepping foot outdoors during a Minnesota winter or construction season — in other words, year-round.

Why didn’t someone think of this earlier?

Actually, they did. The first skyway in downtown Minneapolis opened in 1962.

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