This structure is the University of Minnesota Southeast Steam Plant. It is
used generate steam that is used to heat most of the buildings on the
Minneapolis campus. While this structure is built right on the river, it is
not a hydro power plant. Rather, it was built in 1903 to generate electricity
for the street car system using coal fired boilers. When the street car
system shut down in the early 1950s, Northern States Power took over the
steam plant to generate commercial electrical power. The University of
Minnesota acquired the facility in 1976 to provide steam heat to the east
and west bank campus buildings.
It was hoped that this building would be removed when it became obsolete in
the 1980s. There was a move to shut down the steam plant and covert the land
to park use that was widely supported within state and local government.
However, the University invested millions to rebuild the plant, scuttling
the effort to reclaim the riverfront. This investment effectively rules out
using much of the east bank of the river for parkland for many years into the
Fans of the rock band Pink Floyd think of the album Animals when they see this
building. While this building resembles the powerplant on the cover of Animals,
that power plant is the Battersea Power Station on the River Thames.
The photo above is a summer view of the Southeast Steam Plant as seen from
the Endless Bridge at the Guthrie Theater on the south bank of the
Mississippi River. The bridge pier in the river channel is from the
Lower Bridge, a bridge that was demolished 1943.
The photo above is a same view from the Endless Bridge a few years later under
better lighting conditions. The photo below is the west side of the Southeast
Steam Plan as seen from the deck of the Stone Arch Bridge.
These two photos are views of the Southeast Steam Plant as seen from the
same location on the Stone Arch Bridge. The photo above is a view from
the fall of 2008, while the photo below is a view from the winter of 2009.
The photo above is looking across the Mississippi River towards the Southeast
Steam Plant from the riverbank access road leading to the upstream side of the
Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock & Dam. The late evening sun leaves the
south face of the plant in a shadow. The river flow is heavy and turbulent
due to an unusually heavy winter snowfall total. The photo below is a
similar view from the overlook at the I-35W Bridge Memorial as seen around
midnight on a midsummer evening.