Great Lakes Bar and Funhouse

Weird Nicollet Tour, Minneapolis

Great Lakes Bar and Funhouse

Minneapolis, Minnesota 55407, United States

Created By: Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District


Gateway Park

Today Nicollet dead-ends at its intersection with Washington Avenue, but for a hundred years the street ran straight to the Hennepin Avenue bridge over the Mississippi. Pause at today’s terminus, near at the main entrance of the modernist ING building, and use your imagination while gazing over the entrance steps. Can you still imagine the street as it once was? This was the center of the city, where Nicollet and Hennepin came together.

This entire area at the north end of Nicollet was once called the Gateway, so-called because there were two large train stations bracketing the area. From 1880 until the auto and airplane era, each of them had dozens of trains a day arriving and departing, taking hundreds and thousands of passengers to all points north south east and west. The Gateway area, at the intersection was often the first sight that greeted newcomers to Minneapolis.

For many people, the Gateway was a recurring problem, because this heart of working class Industrial Minneapolis, was run down. It was full of bars, flophouses, religious missions, run-down hotels, all-night diners, and liquor stores.

One of the weirdest spots, at 101 Nicollet Avenue in the middle of the Gateway, was called the Great Lakes Bar. According to their advertisements, the Great Lakes was the “noisiest joint in town.” The owner, a man named John Suback, used to amuse himself by putting fake spiders in people’s drinks when they were not looking, and the place featured weirdly dressed mannequins on its toilets. Most oddly, there were barstools and chairs in the place that had electric leads tied to them that, at the barkeep’s pleasure, would send a “mild but emphatic” current through the beseated patron.

There were many bars in the city here, all with sordid and offbeat tales of things like ghosts, brothels, country rubes, preachers, drunks. But the Great Lakes Bar and Funhouse on Nicollet was surely one of the weirdest.


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


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