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.
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.