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How North Loop Transformed from Industrial ‘Rot’ to a ‘Jewel of the City’

Plus bird levels plummet, Pitchfork gets gutted, and Roger Stone critiques local art in today's Flyover news roundup.

4:56 PM CST on January 19, 2024

North Loop Neighborhood Association|

Fun fact: All of Racket’s four staffers once worked in the Star Tribune’s Heritage Building, pictured far off in the distance here.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily midday digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

From Warehouses to Penthouses

If you're anything like my lovely mother, you've been telling me for years about how the currently glitzy North Loop (né Warehouse District) used to be a wasteland of industrial decay. Now the great Minnesota historian Larry Millett, who is not my mother, is singing a similar tune via MSP Mag. North Loop's earliest boomtime came with the railroads, Millett writes, which by the late 1870s transformed the downtown-adjacent 'hood into an economic powerhouse, "the center of a booming business in farm implements."

That growth coincided with Minneapolis's own, though due to the white flight of the '50s, the area was "largely left to rot," according to Millett. Thirty tightly developed blocks of warehouses—with their old-growth timber sturdiness, soaring ceiling, and attractive brickwork—would eventually save North Loop, just as soon as historic preservationists and developers began game planning their repurposing in the '70s. "One warehouse after another was renovated and put to new use," Millett concludes, "providing wondrous evidence that the old North Loop had embarked on a new life that would ultimately turn it into one of the jewels of the city."

While taking issue with my characterization, my mother approves:

RIP to Pitchfork, a Great MN-Launched Music Publication

OK, maybe that RIP is a tad premature. The future is certainly murky and grim for Pitchfork, the taste-making music website that appears to be on life support. This week Condé Nast bigshot Anna Wintour reportedly informed the site's staff of sweeping layoffs and a curiously phrased absorption by GQ of whatever is left—all while wearing her stupid sunglasses. That set off a wave of online mourning, including heartfelt essays from ex-staffers and longtime admirers. Why are we telling our hyper-local readership about this? Because Pitchfork was founded here in 1996 by record store clerk Ryan Schreiber. (He would unload it to Condé Nast in 2015.)

P4K emerged from its scrappy, adventurous, and sometimes regrettable early days as a cultural powerhouse by the early '00s. Heyday Pitchfork broke new artists like Bon Iver, pummeled acts it deemed unworthy of attention, and did all that with a literary panache that lifted the online album review to an artform of its own. Haters are free to dance on its grave, decrying it as snobbish or, later, a diminished vehicle for pop news. But me? I've loved Pitchfork since the '00s, and maintain that media executives are chickenshit destroyers of outlets they can't be bothered to read and clearly don't understand. We've reached out to Schreiber for an interview. Hopefully we connect with him soon.

Where Da Birds At?

Great question, and one that's answered with incredible geo-specific detail by this new Washington Post story. Columnist Harry Stevens wastes no time delivering news that'd offer great relief to Tippi Hedren, but, for the rest of of us, great concern: North American breeding adult bird populations have plummeted by 30% over the past half-century, per crowd-sourced data studied by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Stevens explains the stakes—fewer birds signals broader ecological issues—before teeing up a nifty search function that allows you to chart bird decline in your own backyard.

We punched in Minneapolis, hoping for some sort of statistical anomaly, but alas, our bird populations are nose-diving like Peregrine falcons. There are a couple silver linings, such as the Blue Jay and the White-breasted Nuthatch scoring double-digit gains in abundance locally. Among the Minneapolis birds experiencing declines of 20+ percent, however: the American Goldfinch, the Rock Pigeon, the Cedar Waxwing, the Song Sparrow, and the Red-Winged Blackbird. Climate change, as you might've guessed, is one of the top culprits cited by experts. “Those data are integral in our understanding of birds in a changing climate," Brooke Bateman of the National Audubon Society tells the Post, "and where we need to implement conservation actions to help birds in need.”

Roger Stone Reviews Local Artist

Roger Stone, the slimeball right-wing fixer whose high-level, long-running appearances throughout U.S. history mimic Forrest Gump's, is available for hire through Cameo. We know this because a local artist, Kate Iverson, paid the man with a Nixon back tat to review her work. "Don't get mad," she wrote on Facebook, "but I took a bunch of edibles last weekend and requested real-life super villain trickster #RogerStone review my 'art'😂." Enjoy.

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