Elizabeth C. Quinlan Building: The Ramp

  • June 13, 2016

This week marks the 90th anniversary of the opening of the Elizabeth C. Quinlan building in downtown Minneapolis. The building at 901 Nicollet was home to the Young-Quinlan Department Store. I’ll be sharing interesting tidbits about the building, the store, Elizabeth Quinlan, and Fred Young all week. First up: The Ramp.

Even before the Elizabeth C. Quinlan building opened in 1926, word began to spread about the building’s underground parking ramp. The underground ramp was the one of the first of its kind in the country, and the concept was quickly copied by other retail establishments.

Quinlan asked all of her employees to refer to the underground parking as “the ramp” or “the parking floor”, and never as a parking garage. The ramp wasn’t just a convenience for Young-Quinlan customers; it was a public service as well. It was the largest parking ramp in the city with stalls for 250 automobiles. It was open twenty-four hours a day, every day. This convenience made the ramp an attractive place to park in the evenings. Anyone could park in the ramp between 6:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. for just a quarter. As an added benefit, expert washing and oiling services were offered in the ramp as well.

The ramp also featured a lane for customers to be dropped off just steps away from an elevator that would whisk them up to the shopping floors. After a day of shopping, attendants would have each customer’s purchases ready to be loaded into their automobile when they arrived back down to the parking floor. That air of exclusivity and comfort couldn’t be matched by any other store in the country. This type of attention to detail is why Quinlan thrived at making a shopping trip to Young-Quinlan a one-of-a-kind experience for her customers.

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