Minneapolis Skyway System

Downtown - North Loop - Mill District - Elliot Park - Loring Park
mulad
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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby mulad » January 8th, 2015, 5:11 pm

It would be nice if there could be some harmonization of regulations between the downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul skyway systems. It still amazes me that most of the St. Paul network is mandated to stay open into the early morning hours (1 am, I think), though there are about 7 segments that close before then (links to government buildings, St. Joseph's Hospital, and a couple of other things). There should be better ways of explaining how to get in and out of the skyway between 5pm and the official closing time -- my workplace has wordy signs on a couple of doors that are hard to decode. I have no idea how to get in/out of the US Bank building in the evening -- it seems completely closed off unless you're driving in/out of the parking pedestal (the four floors between the skyway level and the tower). Explains why the first-floor Post Office has its own dedicated entry on the outside of the building.

But yeah, both downtowns could probably use some updated zoning rules requiring more first-floor storefront space, even if it doesn't get occupied by what you think of right away when saying "retail". There are a few skyway dentists, chiropractors, and other oddities which I don't tend to think of when the "r" word comes up, for instance. Any business that has people coming and going can help add street/sidewalk/skyway activity, even if they aren't leaving the property with a new toaster or purse under their arm.

I've also noticed that many businesses have their security/information desks on the skyway level, without anything on the ground floor. Sometimes I give directions to people who have walked into my building on the ground floor and have no idea where they are, since most of the navigation signage is up on the 2nd floor. Its location also has zero relation to the street-level doorway that stays open latest, which is weird to me. But of course, the doors on the skyway level are actually the ones that stay open latest (like the US Bank, after a certain point, your only way in or out is by driving a car in/out of the building).

That's a major issue with the skyways as compared to sidewalks -- closing one door can force a blocks-long detour, or block access entirely. Closing a door from the sidewalk into the building doesn't have any impact on the sidewalk.

at40man
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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby at40man » January 9th, 2015, 10:58 am

mulad wrote:It would be nice if there could be some harmonization of regulations between the downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul skyway systems. It still amazes me that most of the St. Paul network is mandated to stay open into the early morning hours (1 am, I think), though there are about 7 segments that close before then (links to government buildings, St. Joseph's Hospital, and a couple of other things).
I think it is required to be open from 6 AM - 2 AM - but I have definitely been in the St Paul skyways in the wee hours of the morning. I think this is one of the biggest strengths of the St Paul skyways -- and lack of late hours is one of the biggest complaints I hear about the Minneapolis skyways from tourists and residents alike.

Last year, for instance, I was attending an after-work event at the Mpls Convention Center. I parked nearby in the Leamington Ramp, which is certainly accessible by skyway. However, upon leaving the event, ONE locked door forced me to backtrack all the way to the convention center to find the nearest exit and brave the winter elements. There was lots and lots of grumbling had by all.

If I remember right, you work in Galtier (Cray) Plaza, where I used to work and live. I'd blame the lack of signage in the building on Nan Hynes more than any other factors - she hates signs. I'm not kidding.

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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby David Greene » January 9th, 2015, 11:08 am

Agreed about hours but how do you handle the Macy's situation in Minneapolis? You can route around it but it's still kind of a key link.

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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby twincitizen » January 12th, 2015, 11:04 am

Have we seen/shared this map yet: http://fc07.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2013/ ... 6ty4xs.png

How accurate/useful is it? What would you change to make it more accurate and/or usable?

Which buildings downtown would you like to designate as "Skyway Gateways", which would have enhanced signage at the street level, signifying it as an entry point? The future mixed-use building at Washington/Chicago seems likely to do this, but that's a ways from the core. IDS is an obvious skyway gateway, City Center / Block E are probably a step below that in terms of integration/obvious-ness. What other buildings could and should serve this function as a quasi-public entry to the skyways, either in the core or at skyway termini?

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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby David Greene » January 12th, 2015, 11:20 am

How were the "routes" chosen? Overall the map looks confusing to me due to the multitude of colors.

That said, I like the idea of a transit-like abstract skyway map. It's only useful if the colors are shown on-the-ground too, though.

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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby twincitizen » January 12th, 2015, 11:31 am

Agreed, you'd definitely want those colors/routes echoed in the system itself, such as lines on the walls and/or footstep graphics on the floors and better overhead signage.

As for how this mapmaker chose the routes, it seems like they tried to keep things as linear as possible. I'm not sure that's how the skyway system actually works though. I think it might be more useful to designate major hubs, and then plot out lines/routes connecting them, rather than going for topological simplicity. I'd use fewer colors for sure, leaving some legs of the system as "undesignated". Not every piece of the skyway system has to be part of the "system" that needs to be understood by the general public (especially those with limited functions and limited hours).

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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby Wedgeguy » January 12th, 2015, 12:11 pm

twincitizen wrote:Have we seen/shared this map yet: http://fc07.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2013/ ... 6ty4xs.png

How accurate/useful is it? What would you change to make it more accurate and/or usable?

Which buildings downtown would you like to designate as "Skyway Gateways", which would have enhanced signage at the street level, signifying it as an entry point? The future mixed-use building at Washington/Chicago seems likely to do this, but that's a ways from the core. IDS is an obvious skyway gateway, City Center / Block E are probably a step below that in terms of integration/obvious-ness. What other buildings could and should serve this function as a quasi-public entry to the skyways, either in the core or at skyway termini?
This is a lousy map and can only be used for general orientation. It basically tells you what direction you are going and what possible buildings are connect. I can make sense of this map after navigating the skyways for nearly 30 years. But to an average person that would have them totally confused. IT does not show back tracking that you have to do on some routes. Change of elevation like you have to do in the Northstar Block. I truly miss the old skyway maps that were in the old Skyway journal. They gave you the best information as to how the skyway basically went through a block and what building that they intersected with. Here is a case where the old is better than the new. IMO

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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby xandrex » January 12th, 2015, 12:17 pm

^I don't really understand the map. Too many colors makes it a bit overwhelming.

As for "skyway gateways," I'd put US Bank Plaza up there as one of them, with its open design really showing off the skyways. And it's a major entry point for people getting of the light rail at Government Plaza.

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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby sushisimo » January 12th, 2015, 12:41 pm

That map looks like it's trying to be the 1972 Vignelli subway map for NYC, but for Minneapolis skyways. It doesn't quite work as since you're on foot, walking your entire trip distance. So, "stylizing" the routes kills some much needed wayfinding details.

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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby Wedgeguy » January 12th, 2015, 12:48 pm

You are correct. We don't have specific destinations (color) with our skyways. Some trips thru the skyway would take you thru 4 or 5 different color zones. This type of map may work for rail routes over several miles, But it fail when you are trying to navigate short distances over approximately 2 miles, with several shared segments and more than one level.

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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby Silophant » January 12th, 2015, 12:58 pm

For skyway gateways, I would include the USBancorp Center and the Target store entrance. Both have big windows that let people easily see escalators/stairs up to the skyway level, and that there's (at least one) business entrance up there.

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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby MSPtoMKE » January 12th, 2015, 2:17 pm

It is graphically pretty well done, but not very useful at all for use in navigating. It doesn't give much information on the context the skyways are in, and people don't always follow linear routes. The "[blank] as a subway map" theme (almost always in the style of the London Underground, as is the case here) is pretty overdone, and is often used when it is not the best way to convey information.
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at40man
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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby at40man » January 12th, 2015, 2:27 pm

Are colors all that necessary? This was tried in St Paul in the 1990s -- anyone remember the Red Skyways, Green Skyways, etc?

Tcmetro
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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby Tcmetro » January 12th, 2015, 3:37 pm

I remember the St Paul Skyway colors. Those seemed pretty useless, thankfully they were done away with. Of course, Minneapolis' network is much more comprehensive but the subway-style map isn't a good representation at all.

Lancestar2

Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby Lancestar2 » January 16th, 2015, 10:58 pm

A lot of interesting points and suggestions. I guess a color system map may be more complex than it would be helpful. Perhaps some basic segment coloring would be helpful. Maybe more way finding signs that don't just identify the single building ahead but also points out buildings beyond that when possible. When I was learning the system myself I always found myself stopping at every intersection not remembering which way to go. Perhaps if people could view the map and identify 2-3 buildings ahead and have directions that lead them there it would be less confusing?

Another issue is the complete lack of communication of where skyway to street crossing points are located at. Would also be nice to see more ads and information about retail on street level. For example the Arbys downtown I know you can access it from the skyway but I never seen any building directory with this information. Perhaps displaying all this information may be information overload but simple uniform signs like a cartoon shopping bag, a s2s (Skyway to Sidewalk and vice versa) and other simple pictures with an arrow could better help way-finding perhap. Might encourage sales in retail so perhaps retailers would pressure building owners to allow display of addition signs?

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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby jw138 » January 17th, 2015, 6:13 pm

I've spent the last 5 years working in downtown St. Paul and now know the skyway system like the back of my hand. I recently realized that even though I know how to get between any two points within it using the most efficient path, doing so from the outside is a challenge. I think that's due to walking almost exclusively within the skyway system and thus not developing a comprehensive geospatial grasp of the most important navigational landmarks in the city core... The full exterior of the buildings themselves. While we can look through the glass to the left and right and register into our subconsciousness a picture of the lower floors of each building we're walking into or out of, we can't do the same for the upper floors. Wouldn't it be grand if the skyways had glass ceilings or at least a couple of upward looking glass viewing portals? The skyways between the parking ramp and Terminal 1 at the airport are a perfect example. I think it might have a number of benefits... It would aid in geolocating, provide more opportunity for admiring the various city architectures, further beautify the city, and make skyway walkers feel more connected to the city around them. There would certainly be technical challenges (eg. retaining appropriate interior temperatures, keeping out moisture, bird droppings, etc) but modern construction has already solved most of these issues (regardless of Cray/Galtier Plaza's track record). Outside of the additional cost, are there other barriers?

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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby acs » January 30th, 2015, 10:01 am


xandrex
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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby xandrex » January 30th, 2015, 10:14 am

I'm an ardent skyway defender, so it gave me a chuckle and resonated with my soul.

blobs
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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby blobs » January 30th, 2015, 10:16 am

We also forget that Skyways improve walkability because you don't have to wait for traffic lights to cross streets too.

mulad
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Re: Minneapolis Skyway System

Postby mulad » January 30th, 2015, 11:28 am

Depends on where you're going, though. If you have a straight-line shot, it's nice, but lots of skyways weave back and forth so much that the extra distance cancels out a lot of time you'd otherwise spend waiting on streetcorners. If your destination was a few blocks away diagonally, the street could easily be better.


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