The 32-floor Foshay Tower at 8th and Marquette was built in 1929. At the time it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi. It remained the tallest building in Minnesota for half a century.
The imposing concrete tower was built by utilities tycoon and financial speculator Wilbur B. Foshay. His own home and office were located on the 27th and 28th floors. Foshay managed to commission John Philips Sousa to write a march that was played only once—at the opening of the tower. Alas, the story becomes operatic:
Foshay's timing couldn't have been worse. Just months after his building opened, America was plunged into recession by the worst stock market crash in history. Foshay lost his tower. He lost his home. And in the ultimate indignity, his [$20,000] check to Sousa bounced.
Contrary to urban legend, Foshay did not commit suicide by leaping from the upper reaches of his tower. "He was sent to prison in Kansas for mail fraud when the particulars of his paper empire were explored. After three years he got a presidential commutation, and eventually a pardon by 1947. He died in a nursing home in 1957."
The urban legend is still believed by many Twin City residents. Several told me the story as I took these photos. The tower now houses the W Minneapolis and the gayest hotel staff EVAH.