The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Depot Freight House and Train Shed (commonly referred to as the Milwaukee Road Depot), now officially named The Depot, is a historic railroad depot in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad had a long history in the Minneapolis area, beginning in 1865 when a predecessor railroad, the Minnesota Central, built a line from Mendota to Minneapolis. The Minnesota Central also built a line from Mendota to St. Paul in that early era. Eventually, rail lines connected Minneapolis and St. Paul with Milwaukee, Wisconsin via Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.
The freight house and the first depot were built in 1879 with an Italianate architectural style. The first depot was razed after a new facility, with Renaissance Revival architecture, was built in 1899. Originally, the facility's most distinguishing feature, the clock tower, was pinnacled and modeled after the Giralda in Seville, Spain; high winds destroyed the pinnacle in 1941 and the tower has since had a flat top.
The freight house served a large percentage of less-than-carload freight arriving and departing from the Minneapolis area. Passenger traffic was also significant. In 1916, 15 passenger trains per day used the depot, including the flagship Hiawatha. Rail yard facilities just south of downtown, on Hiawatha Avenue north of Lake Street, serviced the trains. By 1920, the peak of activity, 29 trains per day used the depot.
As passenger rail traffic decreased across the nation and freight facilities were consolidated elsewhere, the Minneapolis depot steadily lost traffic. The depot was closed in 1971 and stood vacant for many years as various redevelopment and reuse plans fizzled. In 1978, the depot and freight house were placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1998, CSM Corporation began a project to reuse the depot, including a Renaissance Hotel and Residence Inn by Marriott, an indoor water park, and an enclosed outdoor ice skating rink located in the former trainshed. The project was completed in 2001.
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