Foshay Tower
The Foshay Tower, now the W Minneapolis - The Foshay hotel, is a skyscraper in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Modeled after the Washington Monument, the building was completed in 1929 in the months before the stock market crash in October of that year. It has 32 floors and stands 447 feet (136 m) high, plus an antenna mast that extends the total height of the structure to 607 feet (185m). The building, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, is an example of Art Deco architecture. Its address is 821 Marquette Avenue, although it is set well back from the street and is actually closer to 9th Street than Marquette.

Early skyscraper
The building has been credited as "the first skyscraper west of the Mississippi", although some previous structures in Minneapolis were considered by some to be skyscrapers. It still marked a significant landmark in the push skyward, as the tower was the first in the city to surpass the height of Minneapolis City Hall, completed in 1906. Being "west of the Mississippi" is also somewhat vague—it may have been the first building of its height in the upper Midwest, although buildings on the West Coast (such as Seattle's Smith Tower) were as tall or taller. It remained the tallest building in Minneapolis until the IDS Center reached the same height during construction circa 1972. It remains one of the tallest concrete skyscrapers to this day, second only in height to the Empire State Building in New York City.

Structure and interior
Because the building was designed to echo the Washington Monument, the sides of the building slope slightly inward, and each floor of the Foshay Tower is slightly smaller than the one below it. It is also unusual in that the tower is set back from the street, with a two-story structure surrounding it on the Marquette Avenue and 9th Street sides. The other two sides of the building, facing 8th Street and 2nd Avenue, are now surrounded by the TCF Tower, which rises to seventeen stories on the 2nd Avenue side and entirely obscures the views from the windows of the first seven stories of the Foshay Tower on the 2nd Avenue and 8th Street sides. Internally the building uses steel and reinforced concrete. The exterior is faced with Indiana limestone, while the interior features African Mahogany, Italian marble, terrazzo, gold-plated doorknobs, a silver and gold plated ceiling, ornamental bronze, hand wrought iron and three commissioned busts of George Washington. It cost US$3.75 million to build. From the Marquette Avenue side of the structure, the name, "Foshay," is visible in concrete four times on the exterior of the building (once on the top and three times on the street level).

Foshay Tower was the lifelong dream and namesake of Wilbur Foshay, an art student turned businessman who amassed his fortune by building up three utility company empires (operating as the W. B. Foshay Company). At the time the tower was being built, he had sold his previous two empires in turn and was building up his third (which was eventually to stretch from Alaska to Nicaragua). He planned to locate his business and residence on the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth floors where a three bedroom, three bath suite was built, with a fireplace and library, Italian Siena marble walls and glass-paneled ceilings. Foshay invited 25,000 guests to the dedication ceremony and provided all-expenses paid trips to many who included cabinet members, senators and congressmen. Half nude dancers entertained. Each guest received a gold pocket watch. The military gave 19-gun salutes. John Philip Sousa conducted music, including "Foshay Tower-Washington Memorial March" a march he wrote for the occasion. Foshay presented Sousa with a check for US$20,000. The march was only played once during Foshay's lifetime. Six weeks after the building's opening, Foshay's corporate empire was thrown into receivership (November 2, 1929) as the Great Depression began. Ignominiously, Foshay's check to Sousa bounced, and in retaliation, Sousa prohibited the playing of the march so long as Foshay's debt to him remained outstanding. Foshay never lived in his new home, which also went into receivership. In 1988, a group of Minnesota investors repaid Foshay's debt to Sousa's estate, and the march was permitted to be played in public again.

Magney & Tusler
The Foshay was designed by Léon Eugène Arnal, chief designer for the architects Magney & Tusler, later known as Setter, Leach & Lindstrom, which was acquired by Leo A. Daly in 2003. The building has the name FOSHAY in 10 foot (3 m) lighted letters on all four sides just below the top. A US patent for this display technique was filed in 1929 by Gottlieb R. Magney, Wilbur Tusler and Arnal and granted in 1931, assigned to the W. B. Foshay Co.

Later use
In January 1981, the building was wrapped in a huge yellow ribbon during the final days of the Iran hostage crisis. Once the hostages returned to the United States, the ribbon was moved to the Minnesota State Capitol in Saint Paul. The antenna on the roof has been used by different broadcasters, including television stations WTCN (a predecessor to modern-day KARE) and KMSP. Radio station KFAI has been broadcasting from the tower since 1984, but moved their transmission tower to the IDS Center in March 2007, due to the W Hotel renovation. The only Norwegian consulate in the Midwest was located in the tower until 2007, when it moved to the AT&T Tower across the street.

Conversion to W Hotel
On September 4, 2006, it was reported that developers Ralph W. Burnet and Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies would spend as much as $90 million to convert the 32-story office tower into a 230-room W Hotel, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. All tenants with the exception of Keys Cafe on the first floor moved out. A unique finding occurred at the tower when workers were replacing the ceiling in the hotel's lobby. When the lobby ceiling was removed, they discovered the room's original ceiling, complete with intricate engravings and embossed with various logos. However, due to past renovation work and age, the ceiling had deteriorated and was badly damaged. It has been reported that workers are currently in the process of restoring the original ceiling at the behest of the National Register of Historic Places, a process which will take a total of four months alone. The renovated W Minneapolis - The Foshay opened on August 13, 2008. The hotel retains the 30th floor observation deck and converted Wilbur Foshay's former boardroom on the 27th floor into the Prohibition Sky Bar.


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