The first connection in one of the world’s most extensive elevated pedestrian networks of interiorized pathways (or skyways) was a footbridge connecting two retail properties owned by Leslie C. Park across Marquette Avenue in the city’s downtown business district. Although no longer extent, this segment, which opened on August 26, 1962, would eventually spawn an eight-mile-long system of walkways connecting 69 city blocks. Conceived of in age of increased competition from suburban office parks and enclosed shopping malls, Minneapolis skyways were originally designed to help counter the exodus of downtown businesses but gained popularity for their climate-controlled convenience in the face of the region’s cold winters. System growth is fueled largely by private sector, entrepreneurial development, which creates a more ad-hoc, decentralized approach. These privately developed and maintained but publicly accessible second-story skyways have inspired lively civic debate about whether their existence aids downtown vitality or robs streets and sidewalks of vital public life.