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Nicollet Mall

Nicollet Mall on a Saturday morning
View of Nicollet Mall from the skyway

Nicollet Mall is a twelve-block portion of Nicollet Avenue running through downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. Historically, the shopping and dining district of the city, it is also a pedestrian and transit mall. Along with Hennepin Avenue to the west, Nicollet Mall forms the cultural and commercial heart of the city.

Many iconic Minneapolis buildings line the Mall, notably the IDS Center, the former Dayton's flagship store (now Macy's), Orchestra Hall, and the Hennepin County Library. On Thursdays in the summer, Nicollet hosts a farmers' market; in the winter, the Holidazzle Parade and now Holidazzle Village traverses the Mall.


  • History 1
  • In popular culture 2
  • Today 3
  • Holidazzle Parades 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The first commercial district in Minneapolis centered on the intersection of Nicollet and Hennepin Avenues, an area known as Bridge Square and (later) the Gateway. As the city grew and the area became more congested, businesses started moving south from Washington Avenue.

By the end of the 19th century, Nicollet Avenue had defined itself as the city's primary shopping street, as department stores such as Powers Dry Goods, Donaldson's and Dayton's all opened on this stretch. Elizabeth Quinlan, the first woman clothing buyer in the country, opened her store in the Young–Quinlan Building, also on Nicollet.

In the mid-20th century, American society was changing. Suburbs were growing while the city was in decline. Southdale Center, the nation's first modern enclosed shopping mall, opened in neighboring Edina in 1956. It was developed by the Dayton Company, which also opened a branch of their downtown department store in the mall. People no longer had to do their shopping downtown.

Several efforts were undertaken in order to help downtown compete for retail. One was the construction of the renowned skyway system; the second was the creation of Nicollet Mall. In 1968, a dozen blocks of Nicollet Avenue were converted into a curving, tree-lined mall closed to automobile traffic.[1] This was the first transit mall in the United States, and it inspired the creation of transit malls in other cities, including Portland, Oregon and Denver, Colorado.[2] Civic and business leaders, including the Dayton Company, were instrumental in this transition. The wide sidewalks, leafy planters and outdoor seating turned Nicollet itself into an attraction.

In popular culture

Target store ceiling in Nicollet Mall

The tam o'shanter cap toss by television character Mary Richards in the opening credits of The Mary Tyler Moore Show was filmed on Nicollet Mall, in front of what was then the flagship Donaldson's department store. In 1999, Entertainment Weekly named this scene the second greatest moment of television history. In May 2002, TV Land erected and dedicated a statue of the character at the corner of 7th Street and Nicollet Mall.


The much-celebrated Dayton's department store at 7th & Nicollet was renamed Marshall Field's in 2001, and then Macy's in 2006, much to the dismay of locals. Still, the corporate descendant of Dayton's -- Target Corporation -- has a large presence on the Mall, with both their corporate headquarters at 10th Street and a two-level retail store at 9th.

Along with Macy's, there is Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th which was converted from the only Saks Fifth Avenue store in the Twin Cities upon its closing in 2004. It is, however, known as one of the largest Sak's Off 5th stores in the country. National retailers and local boutiques cluster around several locations, namely the Crystal Court, City Center and Gaviidae Common located on the Mall, although most of these buildings are empty on weekends and close by 8 pm on weekdays. City Center has a handful of shops like GNC and Hallmark. Recently Brooks Brothers reopened on the second floor of City Center after closing its store in Mall of America. Over the years, Nicollet Mall has seen the closing of several national clothing brands, including Polo Ralph Lauren and Cole Haan, which was also its only store in the Twin Cities. Cole Haan reopened at the Galleria Edina. Fewer than ten stores of that kind still remain, including Gap, Banana Republic, Men's Wearhouse, Thomas Pink located on the skyway level of Macy's and aforementioned Brooks Brothers. Other shops are either local boutiques or specialty stores. The department stores Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet are located on the mall. Neiman Marcus had a store on the Mall until it closed in 2013.[3] The Macy's downtown, was the division headquarters of Macy's North from 2006 to 2008 before it was integrated into Macy's East headquartered in New York City, is arguably the most upscale Macy's in the Twin Cities. Some not-so-common designer brands like Jean Paul Gaultier are also represented inside Macy's with limited choices. There is a local boutique, Hubert White, inside the IDS Center, selling upscale men's clothing, mainly by Ermenegildo Zegna.

In addition to Target Corporation, Fortune 500 companies U.S. Bancorp and Xcel Energy also have their headquarters on Nicollet, while WCCO-TV (Channel 4) broadcasts from studios on the south end of the Mall, including a 'window to the world' news studio on the first floor of their facility.

As a transit mall, Nicollet Mall has been served by many Metro Transit buses, including several high frequency routes. Aside from buses, only taxis and emergency vehicles are allowed on the two-lane road. Bikes have access during non-weekday rush hours, although this is expected to change in March 2010 when several express bus routes are moved to Marquette and 2nd Avenues in the second phase of the "Marq2" project.[4]

Metro Transit provides light rail service at the Nicollet Mall station via the Blue Line and Green Line. The Blue Line, opened in 2004, connects downtown Minneapolis to the airport and to the Mall of America in Bloomington. The Green Line, opened in June 2014, connects downtown Minneapolis to the main University of Minnesota campus and to downtown St. Paul. Metro Transit has also introduced a free circulator bus along Nicollet Mall that runs from the Minneapolis Convention Center to the Nicollet Mall station.[5]

The Loring Greenway links the south end of the Mall to nearby Loring Park.

The summer of 2015 started a two-year, $50-million renovation of the mall. The improvements will add much more green space, pedestrian amenities and connectivity to surroundings.

Holidazzle Parades

The Target Holidazzle Parades were a series of parades located on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. The parades were held from the day after Thanksgiving until a couple days before Christmas. The parade was started in the early 1990s in order to increase business for the downtown stores.[6][7]

Macy's, sponsor of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and the Celebrate the Season Parade in Pittsburgh, is a former sponsor, [6] as was Target Corporation; Target formerly sponsored the State Street Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago.

In 2013, organizers announced the parades would be discontinued in favor of a new German-style Christmas market called "Holidazzle Village".[8] Located on Nicollet Mall in Peavey Plaza, the village features live music, fireworks and local and international vendors. It runs from the Friday after Thanksgiving up until Christmas Eve.[9]

See also


  1. ^ "Assessment of Community Planning for Mass Transit" (PDF). 7—Minneapolis-St. Paul Case Study. Office of Technology Assessment, U.S. Congress. February 1976. pp. Page 8 ("Metropolitan Setting"). Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  2. ^ Transit-Friendly Streets: Design and Traffc Management Strategies to Support Livable Communities (TCRP Report 33).  
  3. ^ Zoss, Jermey (July 31, 2012). "Biz Buzz // Neiman Marcus to close in 2013". The Journal (Minnesota Premier Publications). Retrieved August 12, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Faster express service is coming to downtown Minneapolis". Metro Transit. 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-09. 
  5. ^ "Metro Transit - Ride Free Along Nicollet Mall". 
  6. ^ a b "Join Us at the Macy's Holidazzle Parade". Emergency Foodshelf Network. Retrieved 2007-12-24. 
  7. ^ "Holidazzle parades begin tonight". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2007-12-26. 
  8. ^
  9. ^

External links

  • Hennepin County Library History of Minneapolis
  • Holidazzle Parades official Web site

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