In downtown Minneapolis is the world-famous Foshay Tower, now housing the upscale W Minneapolis – The Foshay. This Marriott hotel brand is known for its bright colors, lively décor, and impressive imagination. Add to this the building's art deco features, and you are in for a feast for the senses.
To truly understand the importance of Foshay Tower, we must go back to the roaring twenties when Wilbur Foshay built the tower as a tribute to the Washington Monument. Constructed in 1929, it was the tallest building between Chicago and the West Coast for nearly 50 years.
Foshay was a businessman who bought and sold several utility companies and amassed great wealth. He celebrated the Foshay Tower's opening with a three-day event over Labor Day weekend in 1929.
Two months later, the stock market crashed. Foshay lost everything. His company filed for bankruptcy. Then in 1931, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted Foshay on charges of mail fraud. He had used the postal service to advertise and sell overvalued stock in his company.
Foshay and his right-hand man began serving 15-year sentences in 1934. A vigorous letter-writing campaign moved President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to free the men in 1937. Ten years later, President Harry S. Truman pardoned both men.
The Museum and Observation Deck
As a hotel guest, I had complimentary access to the Foshay Tower Museum on the 30th floor that chronicles the history of the man and the tower. In addition to several short films offering insight into the past, small exhibits featuring photos, newspaper clippings, and tower souvenirs provide insight into what life was like for Foshay and others before and after the stock market crash.
The exhibits open up the fascinating story of the man, the tower, and its nearly 100-year history.
From the museum, I walked up two flights of stairs to the observation deck.
The panoramic views offer a look at Minneapolis and its history through architecture.
If you go:
The museum and observation deck are open to the public, not only hotel guests. Tickets are $10. Children under 12 are free. A portion of the admission goes to local charities. Tickets are available at the front desk.