Rochester, Minnesota features a climate-controlled walking skyway and subway that allow visitors, residents, and various employees that work at downtown businesses and organizations to walk throughout the town in comfort all year long. Utilizing the skyway and subway system, a person can make their way from the Mayo Civic Center and Rochester Art Center, all the way to Mayo Clinic and beyond all without stepping foot outside. This becomes particularly helpful in inclement weather, and when the cold Minnesota winters make walking inside between buildings much more appealing.
While some Rochester residents are familiar with the skyway, those less so and visitors to Rochester may find it interesting to know that the skyways and subways feature shops, amenities, and services. Even the most well-versed skyway user might not be aware that the skyways and subways feature a few hidden gems.
Art in the Sky
A project of the Youth Commission of Olmsted County, Art in the Sky features artworks by various students from Rochester Public Schools. Most of this artwork can be viewed in the skyway connecting the library to the 2nd Street SW ramp headed towards The Galleria at University Square.
Rainbow Hall at the Rochester Public Library
In 2018, the Rochester Public Library unveiled a refresh to their visual identity. Previously, they had been using visuals and a logo created in 2006. The new logo and color palette is meant to suggest vitality and vibrancy at the Rochester Public Library. Rainbow Hall is located at the Skyway level of the Civic Center Ramp. This skyway level leads directly to the main entrance of the Rochester Public library. These same vibrant colors are featured throughout the library and provide a colorful, cohesive experience for visitors. Rainbow Hall at Rochester Public Library
Tucked in the Subway level of the Marriott hotel, you’ll find Ell Boutique. It can be easy to miss as the shop is situated on a corner and it doesn’t appear spacious from outside the door. But once inside, you’ll see how the shop twists and turns and utilizes the space they have creatively and cleverly. Previously called Exquisite Leather and Luggage, Ell Boutique carries designer fashions and beautiful luggage. Their shoe and accessory selection is trendsetting and unique. Ell Boutique carries brands such as Tumi luggage and Haflinger wool clogs.
Just around the corner from Ell Boutique you’ll find The Chocolate Oasis. It features an incredible counter full to the brim with specialty chocolates, truffles, confections, sweet treats, Minnesota-made chocolate, and more.
The Chocolate Oasis
Glen and Norma Hage Atrium
Located just steps away from one of the busiest areas of the subway is the Glen and Norma Hage Atrium. This natural-light-filled multi-story atrium provides a quiet and peaceful respite to those who are seeking to rest from the busyness of appointments or a work day. The atrium is just around the corner from the Mayo Clinic Hall of Benefactors and features works of art, a beautiful staircase leading up to the Siebens building, comfortable seating, cafe tables, and a piano for guests and visitors to tinker on. Bonus: Just outside the entrance to the Hage Atrium is a water fountain that was part of the original 1914 building. Be on the lookout for it: it’s a work of art!
Gonda Building Artwork
This next hidden gem is hiding in plain sight! Mayo Clinic has recognized that creativity and creative values found in both art and medicine are essential to the well-being of people and their healing. To that end, Mayo Clinic has an extensive collection of art that it has acquired or been gifted throughout the years. Some of the artists featured in the Mayo Clinic art collection include Andy Warhol, Auguste Rodin, and Paul Norwood. One of the most dramatic pieces in the collection is the large Dale Chihuly blown glass piece found suspended from the ceiling of the Gonda building as you enter from the subway near the parking ramp elevators. It features 13 separate chandeliers comprised of elongated tubes and bulbs of blown glass.
Dale Chihuly is a world-renowned glassblower and is often called the world’s foremost glass master. The piece was made possible through a generous donation from Serena Fleischhaker whose grandmother first registered as a Mayo Clinic patient in 1910, making the Fleischhaker family one of the longest patient-care relationships in Mayo Clinic’s history.
Art by Dale Chihuly in the Gonda Building
Carroll’s Corn is a mainstay in the subway of downtown Rochester MN. Rochester residents are most likely familiar with this sweet and salty popcorn treat, but visitors might not know where to look. Directly across from the Glen and Norma Hage Atrium is the Mayo Clinic store. There you will find an inconspicuous hallway, follow that back and then let your nose do the rest of the work…it will lead you to this popcorn shop that has been selling freshly popped corn and more since 1993. Pick up the Triple Mix featuring regular, cheddar, and caramel corn. It’s the most popular flavor for a reason!