Tiles of the Twin Ports
Places you can purchase the maps
Tiles of Minnesota "Legacy of Tiles"
An Introduction to the History of Public Art Tiles
The Twin Cites of Minneapolis and St. Paul evolved at the convergence of two mighty rivers, the Mississippi and Minnesota, an ideal location for commercial development. The surrounding area was abundant in natural resources spurring the development of lumber, mining and dairy industries, as well as the growing of grains. As a manufacturing base developed, both cities provided employment opportunities in railroads, mills, construction companies and breweries for the thousands of immigrants, notably from Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, who arrived in the United States during the latter half of the 19th century. Food processing, pulp and papermaking, printing, publishing, metal works and machinery were among the promising enterprises.
With the resulting prosperity throughout the region, there was a growing appreciation of the arts; and the need for clay surfacing materials, both ceramic tiles and architectural terra cotta, grew proportionately. Tiles from many of the well-known American manufacturers can be found adorning the entries, fireplaces, kitchens and bathrooms of period homes throughout the area, and terra cotta is in evidence embellishing the exteriors of many buildings in both downtown areas. Today, there are an extraordinary number of localtile artists and craftspeople using tiles as a means of expression. There has been an increase in tile making activity and mosaic work resulting in greater use and appreciation of tiles as a decorative art form.
The Handmade Tile Association, LLC invites you to embark on a historical and contemporary treasure hunt of Minnesota tiles. These gems of architectural adornment serve many purposes in our everyday lives. The major reasons for using tile are their durability, functionality, and decorative beauty.
Tiles are arguably one of the most versatile building materials in human history. With hundreds of color choices and an infinite ability to be sculpted and painted, tiles have been a favorite building material for designers and artists from ancient times to the present. Today, China, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and the United States are leaders in making exciting and innovative tiles to walk and gaze upon. Explore Minnesota's tile legacy and tell us what you think.
The map is an introduction to the history of public art tiles. Get a fuller description and history of most sites by clicking the links near the top of this page. This web site will also have updates as we learn more about each site as well as pictures of many building exteriors to help you identify them as you approach each tile site.
Do you know of a historic tile site or have historic tiles in your home or business? Please contact the Handmade Tile Association to add to our registry of sites.
Josh Blanc, President
Map curators: Jane Swan and Josh Blanc
This map was made possible in part by the Doty Research Grant and by the North East Minneapolis Arts Association
And extra thanks to the many artists, businesses, galleries, museums, individuals, organizations, and our families who helped us put this together.
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