Driving down Washington Avenue on a cold winter night, one is charmed by the sight of kids, couples, friends and families swirling by the frosted windows of the Depot’s seasonal ice rink. That is what the Depot has come to mean for so many Minnesotans since it’s revitalization and opening in 2001. But there is more to the Depot, a richer history than meets the eye.
The building was constructed in 1889 by the Milwaukee railroad. It was designed in the Renaissance Revival style, a style rich with romance that added glamour to the rather unglamorous mode of transportation of the day. The depot remained active until 1971, when the last train left the station and it was converted into an office building. In 1978, the Depot was placed on the National Register of Historic places, and for years the Minneapolis Community Development Agency struggled with how to give this beautiful building the future it deserved. In 1998, plans went underway to turn the Depot into the complex we know and love today.
The Depot now features two hotels, one waterpark, one ice skating rink, a restaurant and a bar. It is also conveniently located near other Minneapolis places of interest, the Guthrie Theater, Mill City Museum and Stone Arch Bridge. To get a taste of the rich history of this place, perhaps start your evening off with a bite to eat at Charley’s grill, or a cocktail at the Stone Arch Bar. Spend some time finding the white statues scattered about the gorgeous marble halls. If you’re there with a date, have some fun guessing what life must have been like for the Newspaper boy, Conductor, or maybe get some inspiration from the Kissing Couple, a statue full of old world romance. If you’re there between the 25th of November and the 21st of March, by all means round out your trip at the famous ice rink- after all, it was named one of the top ten best places to skate in the US! Make like the Kissing Couple statue on ice. It’s so romantic, no one will argue with a little PDA.