Buy a Skyway

[Image: The skyway-to-nowhere while it still spanned the street; photo via the Star-Tribune].

Continuing our irregular look at oddities in real estate, you might be interested to know that you can now buy a skyway.

The 280,000-pound steel structure was originally designed by architect Ed Baker, a man apparently also known as “the father of the skyways,” according to, and as a “skyway visionary,” as suggested by his 2006 obituary in The Journal.

The structure itself is still intact, although it no longer spans a street or sidewalk; rather, it sits empty in a nearby lot, devoid of both purpose and context, like an architectural prosthetic discarded, half-forgotten, by the city.

But it’s no ordinary skyway.

[Image: The skyway sitting in its dusty lot; photo via the Star-Tribune].

“It is a piece of Minneapolis history,” architect Ben Awes of CityDeskStudio told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “To demolish it would be a significant waste of resources, the waste of an object that is both extremely practical and has tremendous creative potential.”

The back-story is complex:

The saga of the grounded skyway, which once ferried shoppers in climate-controlled comfort over S. 5th Street between the J.C. Penney and Powers stores in downtown Minneapolis, began more than a decade ago when the Powers store was demolished, leaving the abandoned skyway perilously projecting over 5th Street.

When work began on the 5th Street LRT line in 2002, the University of Minnesota bought the skyway to nowhere for $1. Plans to repurpose the elegant network of zigzagging steel tubes and trusses never materialized, and in 2006, CityDeskStudio bought it for $5,000 at a blind auction and wheeled it to a weed-strewn field near the U’s Twin Cities campus.

And it has sat there ever since.

When CityDeskStudio bought it, they initially envisioned transforming the structure, in one, architecturally coherent piece, into a modern lakeside cabin somewhere in the wilds of Minnesota. Until the economy got in the way.

[Image: The skyway as lakeside retreat; rendering by CityDeskStudio].

Technically speaking, the thing is not even for sale: in fact, CityDeskStudio will pay you to take it away from the site. But the moving costs, insurance, and whatever other associated site-preparation fees you might face before planting it in the woods somewhere could be quite considerable.

Any takers?

(Spotted via Previously on BLDGBLOG: Buy a Fort, Buy a Lighthouse, Buy an Underground Kingdom, Buy a Prison, Buy a Tube Station, Buy an Archipelago, Buy a Map, Buy a Torpedo-Testing Facility, Buy a Silk Mill, Buy a Fort, Buy a Church).

One thought on “Buy a Skyway”

  1. When is an object more than an object?

    Is a 6 cent BIC pen used by Steve Jobs, more than a 6 cent BIC pen?

    To me, a 6 cent BIC pen has a value in its usefulness, the ability to write, rather than who used or owned it.

    The "Baker" skyway, at this point in time, is abandoned. It has negative use. The glass and steel should be recycled to live another useful life.

    Also, the exact same truss can be rebuilt far more cheaply than it can be moved.

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