The 1878 Washburn A Mill Explosion

On the evening of May 2, 1878, the Washburn A Mill exploded in a fireball, hurling debris hundreds of feet into the air. In a matter of seconds, a series of thunderous explosions—heard ten miles away in St. Paul—destroyed what had been Minneapolis' largest industrial building, and the largest mill in the world, along with several adjacent flour mills. It was the worst disaster of its type in the city's history, prompting major safety upgrades in future mill developments.

Black and white photograph of Foshay Tower and IDS Center, Minneapolis, 1975.

Foshay Tower and IDS Center, Minneapolis

The Philip Johnson-designed IDS Center, seen behind the Foshay, supplanted the Foshay Tower as Minneapolis's tallest building when it opened in 1972.

Black and white photograph of Foshay Tower at Ninth Street and Marquette, Minneapolis, 1958

Foshay Tower at Ninth Street and Marquette, Minneapolis

The tower was built upon an existing two-story structure, which formed the base of the new skyscraper, 1958.

Black and white photograph of the elevator to Foshay Tower observation balcony, Minneapolis, 1948.

Elevator to Foshay Tower observation balcony, Minneapolis

Elevator to Foshay Tower observation balcony, Minneapolis, 1948.

Black and white photograph of reception and waiting room of the Foshay Tower, 1931.

Reception and Waiting Room, Foshay Tower Corporation, Minneapolis

The reception and waiting room, Foshay Tower Corporation, Minneapolis, 1931.

Black and white photograph of Foshay Tower dedication ceremonies, 1929.

Dedication ceremonies of the Foshay Tower taken in the gardencourt showing "Scherzo" sculpture, Minneapolis

Foshay Tower dedication ceremonies taken in the garden court and showing Harriet Frishmuth's bronze sculpture Scherzo, 1929.

Black and white photograph of the interior of the Foshay Tower, 1929–1930.

Interior of the Foshay Tower, Minneapolis

Interior of the Foshay Tower, 1929–1930.

Black and white photograph of Foshay Tower, 821 S. Marquette Avenue, Minneapolis, 1928–1929.

Foshay Tower, Minneapolis

Foshay Tower, 821 S. Marquette Avenue, Minneapolis, 1928–1929.

Foshay Tower, Minneapolis

Since 1929, the Foshay Tower has been a vital part of the Minneapolis skyline. When it was built, the thirty-two-story tower was the tallest building between Chicago and the West Coast. In the 1970s and 1980s, much taller skyscrapers were built, but the attractive Foshay Tower remained a crowning glory of Minnesota architecture.

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