Donaldson's Ceiling Train

Weird Nicollet Tour, Minneapolis

Donaldson's Ceiling Train

Minneapolis, Minnesota 55407, United States

Created By: Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District


On Nicollet Avenue, Between 6th and 7th

On 6th Street between Marquette and Nicollet once stood the city’s largest department store for a time, the Donaldson’s Glass Block building. Along with Dayton’s Department Store, Donaldson’s store was a key spot for Minneapolis shoppers. It was called the glass block building because of its extensive windows and small dome over its entrance at the corner of Nicollet.

For many years during the 1930s and 1940s, the store had an unusual feature: a small child-size train that was mounted around the interior of the ceiling of the store. Kids visiting Donaldson’s would be permitted to get tickets, queue up, and board the train. From there, they would have a top-down view of the store, and most especially a good view into the toy department where they would, after disembarking from the ride, know exactly which toys they could ask their parents to buy that day.

Donaldson’s burned up in a mysterious and dramatic fire that broke out on Thanksgiving night in 1982. At that point, the old store was slated for demolition and half torn-down already, but somehow two young people had entered the building and lit it ablaze. The department store’s large open atrium acted like a chimney, every fire truck in the city was called in, and in the morning the entire block had been destroyed.


This point of interest is part of the tour: Weird Nicollet Tour, Minneapolis


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