Minneapolis is known for its skyways and its bike culture. But it’s also still influenced by something that helped the city establish itself as a metropolis: banks.

Minneapolis is home to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis – one of 12 banks that make up the Federal Reserve System. It’s long been a banking center of the Midwest, and this bank history is woven through the city’s architecture. What were buildings created for the burgeoning banking industry have been repurposed as the Wells Fargos, Bank of Americas and Citibanks moved into modern skyscrapers.

Here are three spots where you can see Minneapolis’ banking history in new light.


This bar and restaurant is set inside what was the bank floor of the Farmers & Mechanics Bank building – complete with 34-foot ceilings and a bank vault that now holds wine. Spaces that used to be teller counters are now private dining rooms. Mural plates, set up like you’d find Stations of the Cross in a Catholic church, depict Midwest farming scenes. The only thing that looks out of place are the flat screen TVs.

Hotel Minneapolis

The former Security Bank Building, built in 1906, is now a 222-room hotel in the heart of Minneapolis. The lobby has retained its original 17-foot marble pillars and plaster, and the vault is on display (on the way to the bar’s bathrooms, no less). In 2010, they added a 1,300 sq.-ft. Concierge Lounge that holds up to 80 people, offering complimentary breakfast, snacks and business services. It’s open to Silver, Gold and Platinum Marriott Rewards members.

W Minneapolis – The Foshay Hotel

This building, which was designed after the Washington Monument, was the first skyscraper west of the Mississippi river. It was a sensation but Wilbur Foshay, who created the building, had very bad timing. It opened right before the stock market crash Six weeks after a dedication ceremony that included naked dancers and a 19-gun salute, Foshay lost his empire, and his money. Rumor had it that he jumped off the 30th floor, but he actually died in a nursing home in poverty. The building re-opened as a W hotel in 2008 after a $90 million renovation. Foshay’s former board room is a swank bar called Prohibition – a hat tip to the era, of course, but it also because stairways lead off the main bar floor to what were thought to be speakeasies.