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The Mary Tyler tour: getting to see Mary Richards� Minneapolis

by Sandy McLendon

IF you have the good fortune to visit Minneapolis, you�ll probably want to see the sights shown in The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Even though 32 years have passed since a film crew and Ms Moore shot the original opening sequence, almost everything you remember is still there. Here�s a rundown on what to see and where it is; a visit to Mapquest ( can give you directions from wherever you are. Each site�s location is given, plus info on what each is like in real life. Access varies from site to site; please respect the restrictions listed.
   Please note: if you�re the kind of fan who wants to maintain absolute belief in the show, you should know that this article contains "spoilers" giving information about certain aspects of the series that were not possible in real life.

2104 Kenwood Parkway
This is the turn-of-the-century Victorian house that Mary Richards� studio apartment was supposedly located in. On the show, it was owned by Phyllis and Lars Lindstrom, and was subdivided into apartments.
   In real life. Built in 1891, the house is actually a mansion, and is a private residence, not an apartment building. The famous window behind the balcony has nothing behind it except unfinished attic space. The house looks a little different today than it did on the show; it is currently painted brown, instead of the white seen in 1970. The trees and shrubbery are larger, as well; the house is not as visible as it was in the opening sequence. The area is more upscale and exclusive than it was in 1970.
   Access. Not open to the public. Please enjoy looking at this house only from the public street or sidewalk. Setting foot onto the property in any way is trespassing and a violation of the residents� privacy.

Nicollet Mall, between 7th and 8th Streets
This is where the famous hat toss seen in the opening credits was filmed.
   In real life. Donaldson�s Department Store, seen in the opening credits, is long gone. Nicollet Mall is not an enclosed retail mall; it is a pedestrian mall stretching for 12 blocks through Minneapolis�s downtown. In May 2002, Nick at Nite�s TV Land spent $150,000 to have a statue of Mary Richards created by artist Gwendolyn Gillen; the eight-foot-tall bronze depicts Mary throwing her famous hat in the air. The statue has been donated to the City of Minneapolis, and TV Land has provided funds for its upkeep.
   Access. This is a public street.

1525 South 4th Street
This is the high-rise building that Mary Richards supposedly moved to in Season Six. On the show, it appears very upscale.
   In real life. Built in 1973, and designed by famed modernist architect Ralph Rapson, the complex is known as Riverside Plaza. It is actually low-income housing owned by the Minneapolis Community Development Agency (MCDA). It was originally designed as a mixed-income, mixed-use development, consistent with its appearance on the show, but has fallen into disrepair.
   Access. Not open to the public. The Cedars�Riverside area surrounding Riverside Plaza is an area known for high crime, although Minneapolis officials seem to have made some progress with the problem. It is suggested that you visit only by taxi, tour car, or rental car during daylight hours. It�s a good idea to have at least one other person along, and it�s best if you don�t attempt to leave the car.

710 Marquette Avenue
This is the famous balcony restaurant overlooking the Crystal Court of the IDS Tower where Mary had lunch in the credits of later seasons.
   In real life. The restaurant is called Basil�s, and the staff accommodates requests for what is called �The Mary Tyler Moore Table� when possible. The balcony is also available for private parties. The restaurant is part of the Marquette Hotel. The Crystal Court below the restaurant has the escalator Mary rode. You can�t miss the 51-storey IDS Tower; the Phillip Johnson-designed, all-glass building is the major landmark in Minneapolis.
   Access. Open to customers of Basil�s Restaurant, when tables are available, and when the balcony is not booked for a private party. For reservations, call 1 612 376-7404. Major credit cards are accepted.

Logan Avenue and Franklin Avenue South
This is the park where Mary Richards is seen walking in the opening credits.
   In real life. Known as Lake of the Isles, this small lake surrounded by parkland really is in the same Kenwood neighbourhood where Mary�s first apartment was located.
   Access. Open to the public. Minneapolis residents have a tradition of keeping their parks clean, and they�d probably appreciate it if you followed suit. Ice-skating is possible during the winter months.

801 Nicollet Mall
The fictional Snyder Building, where WJM-TV was supposedly located.
   In real life. The building was actually Midwest Federal Savings and Loan, which closed in the S&L crisis of the 1980s. The building is now known as Midwest Plaza. A Barnes & Noble bookstore currently occupies the former banking floor of Midwest Federal. The building�s lobby is changed from its appearance in the show; the elevators do not look the way they did on TMTMS. The WJM windows shown in exterior shots on the show are on the east side of the building, which means that Episode 149, �Ted�s Change of Heart�, where Mary, Lou and Murray watch the sunset from the windows, could not have happened in real life.
   Access. The lobby and Barnes & Noble are open to the public during business hours. As with most office buildings nowadays, other floors in the building are subject to security restrictions.

If you�d like to tour all these locations in maximum comfort, Twin Cities Tours ( arranges personalized tours with custom itineraries. One of their tour guides, Doug Mehrkens, has done over 400 tours, and says that he�d be delighted to drive readers to all the locations listed.
   Rates begin at $45 per hour for a Lincoln Town Car that can carry four passengers; the hourly charge includes multiple passengers and is not per passenger. To make reservations, you can reach Doug directly at [email protected]; Twin Cities Tours accepts credit cards. Enjoy Minneapolis, don�t forget to tip your driver, and have a very Mary time! � Sandy McLendon

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  Article copyright ©2002 by Sandy McLendon. Site copyright ©1998–2001 by JY&A Media. All rights reserved. This site is not connected with ABC, News Corp., Twentieth Century-Fox and MTM Enterprises Inc. or their divisions. Site broadcast from San Antonio, Tx.