“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” Apartment BuildingMay 10th, 2010 | By Lindsay | Category: TV Locations
In 1975, after the real-life owner of The Mary Tyler Moore Show house put a big, fat ixnay on letting the series do any more filming on her property, producers decided to move their spunky heroine to the newly-built, multi-colored apartment complex known as Cedar Square West in the Cedar-Riverside area of Minneapolis. My parents and I had actually driven by the complex, which is now called Riverside Plaza, numerous times during our stay in the North Star State – and had often commented on what an eyesore it was – but it wasn’t until stumbling upon John Weeks’ Mary Tyler Moore Show locations website while killing time at the Mayo Clinic that I realized the place was a filming location. Once I learned that the building stood in for the home of Mary Richards during the final two seasons of the iconic series, I decided I just had to write a blog post about it, which I did during the 90-minute car ride from Rochester back to Minneapolis this past Friday morning. I had planned on taking photographs of Riverside Plaza once we reached our destination, but, sadly, it rained pretty much all day on Friday, so I put it off, thinking the pictures would not come out very well. I figured I could snap a few photos the following morning while on our way to the airport to fly back home. Since we had passed Riverside Plaza on our way into town after first landing in Minneapolis the week prior, I thought it would stand to reason that we would also pass it on our way out of town while heading back to the airport, but that’s not exactly what happened. For whatever oddball reason, our GPS unit took us on an alternate route to the airport, a route which did not go past Riverside Plaza, and I therefore never got any photographs of the place! UGH! But since I had already written the content about the locale, I decided to do a post on it anyway. Which landed me in uncharted territory – a blog post with no photographs to go with it. Thankfully, though, I found a video about the Plaza on the MinnPost news website, from which I was able to make the screen captures which appear above and throughout the rest of this post. Thank you, MinnPost! And let that be a lesson to me – never write a blog post without first taking pictures of the subject on which I am writing. 😉
Riverside Plaza, which is comprised of six towers, was constructed in 1973 by modernist architect Ralph Rapson and was modeled after a multi-use residential housing design known as Unite d’Habitacion, which was created by the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, aka Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris (try saying that one three times fast!). The towers were designed in the very aptly-named brutish-style and, in my never-to-be-humble opinion, stick out like a sore thumb in the otherwise beautiful skyline that makes up Downtown Minneapolis. The buildings are such an eyesore, in fact, that each time my family drove past them, one of us would comment on their not-so-aesthetic appearance. Rapson was inspired to build the complex after a vacation in Europe, during which he discovered similar style communities in which groups of different economic and cultural backgrounds lived together in close proximity. He originally envisioned Riverside Plaza to be comprised of 11 buildings with 12,500 different apartment units which would house over 30,000 people. His vision was never realized, however. The developer funding the project defaulted on his loans and only six buildings, comprised of 1,303 individual units, were completed. Supposedly, there are several “skyways” – covered walking bridges which connect buildings – on the premises which were never finished and therefore lead to nowhere. Because 50% of the units are subsidized housing, the complex is currently home to a large number of low-income residents. According to quite a bit of information online, the Plaza is rundown, infested with crime and drugs, and is colloquially called “the crack stack”, which is why I had only planned on taking pictures of the place from afar. 😉 Riverside Plaza is scheduled to undergo a $90 million renovation project in the near future in order to make the place more energy-efficient and is currently being considered for Historic Landmark status. Being that so many Minnesota residents despise the place, though, I have serious doubts that the status will be awarded. You can see a great photograph of Riverside Plaza here.
Riverside Plaza first appeared in the Season 6 episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show which was aptly entitled “Mary Moves Out”. Mary continued to be a resident of the building throughout the remaining two seasons of the series, which ended in 1977.
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Riverside Plaza, aka Mary Richards’ apartment building on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, is located at 1600 South 6th Street in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota.