The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood is named after the intersection of the two main avenues of the neighborhood, Cedar and Riverside. The neighborhood is triangular-shaped with three definitive boundaries: the Mississippi River on the east side, Interstate 94 on the south side, and Interstate 35W on the west side. Cedar-Riverside‘s history is nearly as old as Minneapolis'. In the late 1890s, the neighborhood was known as "Snoose Boulevard," with a thriving community of Scandinavian immigrants, many of whom worked in the milling and lumber industries on the Mississippi River. In the 1960s and 1970s, Snoose Boulevard turned from a quaint neighborhood to a beehive of hippies, intellectuals, actors, artists and musicians. Presently, the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood boasts the largest community of immigrants in the Twin Cities, continuing a long history of ethnic and cultural diversity.
Source: City of Minneapolis Neighborhood Profile Page
Andy Lee has lived in Cedar Riverside since Fall 2001 when he started his academic career at the University of Minnesota in a residence hall. After earning his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, he decided to continue his education and remained in the neighborhood. He is in-between his first and second years at the Humphrey School's Masters of Urban and Regional Planning program. He is currently an intern working for Metro Transit on Arterial Bus Rapid Transit, which he says is a fancy way of saying that he’s helping make the most heavily used urban bus routes faster. So, if you see someone taking photos at a bus stop, it may be Andy doing research. When Andy is not studying or working, he spends a lot of time biking or walking around exploring the city. He says that even though he’s lived in Minneapolis his entire life (grew up in Prospect Park), he still finds new things.
Caren has been a Cedar-Riverside/West Bank resident since 2007. She chose to live and work in this community because it so vibrant. Caren is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota on the West Bank. For fun, Caren bikes, takes photos and likes to explore.
Click on the map to open in Google maps. Caren's tour (blue) is an approximation because I forgot to turn on the GPS tracker during our walk. Thankfully I remembered to track the 5.39 mile walk with Andy!
As with all of the neighborhoods I've visited, these tours are not exhaustive (though this one is LONG) and not intended to capture everything each neighborhood has to offer. I hope to return to the neighborhood for additional tours or to highlight specific neighborhood gems. Perhaps you'll personally invite me back and introduce me to something I missed!?
Riverside Plaza Area
It is fitting that Andy, a current employee of MetroTransit, would suggest we meet at the Cedar-Riverside LRT station! In addition to buses that run along Cedar Avenue, the Light rail connects Cedar-Riverside with downtown and along the Hiawatha route leading to the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport. Another reason why people visiting the Twin Cities have easy access to visiting Cedar-Riverside!
The Cedar-Riverside LRT Station even made Larry Millet's AIA Guide to the Twin Cities! On page 150, he points out that a "glass canopy etched with star constellations and pavers that use Somali textile patterns are among the features of this station."
If Andy hadn't pointed out these sculptures, I certainly would have asked as they are quite distinctive. He informed me that they are meant to serve as beacons to the neighborhood - leading the way to the LRT station since it was not possible to have the station more centrally located within the neighborhood. I have contacted the artists, Jim Hirschfield and Sonya Ishii to learn more about their sculptures because the only article I could find, 'Beacons' to point way to light rail, was written prior to the installation.
Andy must know that I have a dream of one day living in a converted building that was not initially designed as residential property. He discovered this off the path property and through property tax research discovered that it is, in fact, a private residence. Do you know anything about this property? Share in the comments!
Darul Quba mosque's original location is being razed as part of a Cedar-Riverside redevelopment plan and they've relocated into the former Bedlam Theatre space. Articles from 2010 have been written but I was unable to learn much more. I hope a future tour guide will include learning more about the community members who worship and socialize here.
"Riverside Plaza is a modernist and brutalist apartment complex designed by Ralph Rapson that opened in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1973." (Source: Wikipedia)
"Originally known as Cedar Square West, the project was the brain child of a team that included developers Gloria Segal and Keith Heller along with architect Ralph Rapson. It came to fruition during the time of the federally backed New Town [in Town] movement." (Millet, Larry. AIA Guide to the Twin Cities, p. 150)"
Pop culture enthusiasts may know that Cedar-Riverside was home to Mary Richards on "The Mary Tyler Moore" TV show (she moved there from a home on Lake of the Isles later in the series).
Riverside Plaza is currently being renovated and according to the media packet the $132 million renovation "will revamp 1303 housing units, provide 300 construction jobs (90 of them to area residents) and invest $7 million in public realm improvements."
Of course, this historically significant apartment complex is not without controversy. Many people believe it is an eyesore and have given it a host of derogatory nicknames. What are your thoughts about Riverside Plaza? Add them to the comments.
Open since January 2005, the understated building houses some of the most colorful threads you'll see in the Twin Cities. The large building is broken into smaller shops many of which sell clothing, perfume, rugs, and other decor and others provide services like henna tattoos. Caren spoke of the importance of the mall for economic support for individual entrepreneurs who otherwise could not afford retail space. This 2007 Minneapolis Bridgeland News article also points out that most of the businesses are run by women, which I observed while visiting.
Parks & Public Spaces
Both Caren and Andy introduced me to Currie Park. Named after Edward A. Currie, Director of Pillsbury Settlement House at 4th Street and 16th Avenue, in 1977, is an important space because it is the only park near this stretch of Cedar Avenue. The park serves the diverse community of mostly East Africans who live in nearby apartment complexes, Riverside Plaza and The Cedars.
Andy’s favorite spot in the neighborhood is Riverside Park because “it’s a wonderful but little known park off of west river road”.
Riverside Park is huge (40 acres) and has both an upper and lower level. Andy introduced me to a trail that led us to a set of old stone steps built during Works Progress Administration (WPA - 1939-41). He also pointed out a sidewalk stamp marking "WPA 1939" on the lower level of the park. Along the lower level trail along the bluff, there are mini waterfalls springing from the stone.
Today it is hard to imagine that the stretch of land along the river between the University of Minnesota and St. Anthony Falls used to be filled with 100 or more homes and a church for immigrants (Scandinavians, Germans, Slovaks, and Bohemians) looking for work as Minneapolis was incorporating (1867) until 1915 when the City of Minneapolis made effort to relocate them. Read more about the history of Bohemian Flats thanks to the work of a group of citizens who organized Bohemian Flats Day in 2008.
Technically in the Seward neighborhood, the oldest tree in Minneapolis is located in Riverside Park. It recently succumbed to disease in 2010 after an estimated 333 years of life. So beloved is this tree, there is a website dedicated to it called The Ancient Oak Tree.
Another one for the record books is Murphy Square, Minneapolis's oldest park is named after Edward Murphy who donated the land to be used as a park in 1857.
Near the park, pedestrians and cyclists can cross over Interstate 94 which connects Seward and Cedar-Riverside neighborhoods.
Built in 1866, Dania Hall was a center of activity for Danish Americans who recently immigrated to the United States. Destroyed in a fire on February 28, 2000, many people mourn the loss of such an historic site. The African Development Center remembers Dania Hall. Today, the space is used as an Outdoor Market every saturday from noon until 4:00 PM. The sidewalk is pictured because there is an interesting story behind its creation.
Added to the National Registar of Historic Places, the 10th Avenue Bridge was built between 1826 and 1829/ Engineer Kristoffer Olsen Oustad used an open spandrel arch design and today the bridge accommodates four lanes of automobile traffic.
"Northern Pacific Bridge #9 is a deck truss bridge that spans the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, between the Seven Corners area and the University of Minnesota campus. It was built in 1924 and was designed by Frederick W. Cappelen." (source: Wikipedia) Today it is used for pedestrians and bicyclists to go between the Seven Corners area and the University of Minnesota East Bank campus.
A blog by Lisa Peters, Bridge Number 9, is an excellent blog to follow because she ties today's happenings in Southeast Minneapolis to the history of our city. An example is the post "When will the leaning tower of pier fall?" which also gives you an idea of what it was like to build the 10th Avenue bridge.
Although not currently listed as a park on the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board website, Andy informed me that this was designated as a park space because it was vulnerable to other uses. This community supported effort is explained in a document by Groundwork Minneapolis.
Seven Corners Restaurants & Entertainment
Caren's favorite place for food and drink in her neighborhood is Republic. I had an opportunity to talk with Matty O'Reilly, one of the owners of Republic and to say he cares about good food would be a an understatement. It is his passion and a talent that has proven itself in Wayzata's 318 Cafe and St. Anthony Main's Aster Cafe. Matty and I spent a lot of time talking about the nature of the Seven Corners area of Cedar-Riverside and the fact that the mix of high density residential and business creates a lot of foot traffic, a definite benefit for restaurants and pubs. He tells me his neighbors have been welcoming and that he believes Republic has brought new business to the area. The mix of drastically different music venues within Cedar-Riverside, in his opinion, helps everyone - the business owners and the clientele. His approach to offer affordable, locally sourced good food is his primary goal. Matty and the staff he and business partner, Rick Guntzel, have hired are extremely welcoming and genuine in their approach. Matty talked about instilling open-mindedness in the staff - something I benefitted from when I arrived 1.5 hours early for my talk with Matty. The staff welcomed me in for lunch and helped me with wifi so I could continue working remotely while I waited. I would be remiss if I didn't discuss Republic's love of beer and beer programming. They have hosted Master Brew Dinners and are currently hosting Beer School on Wednesday nights.
The Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery was founded in 1997 by Pete and Scot, friends since childhood. Town Hall brews five every day beers, about 5 seasonals and they serve beers by guest brewers. Craft beer fans enjoy their release events in which they introduce their new brew. In addition to their beer selection, they offer a full-menu for lunch and dinner. I suggest getting a sampler of beers and a hot pretzel after walking around the neighborhood.
One of the oldest theatres in Minnesota, Theatre in the Round has a Ralph Rapson connection as his architecture firm helped design its unique arena stage which has received national recognition and praise.
The Southern Theater cultivates artistic exploration by providing a vibrant home for performance, fostering a multiplicity of voices, and catalyzing connections among artists and audience. Source: Souther Theater's website.
Cedar Avenue Businesses & Organizations
Caren was excited to show me The Hub Bike Co-Op because the employee-owned business is one she has supported with two bicycle purchases. We had the opportunity to talk to a staff member who said she is proud that they offer all kinds of bikes for all kinds of people, of their community outreach, free classes and inclusive hiring practices.
Mayday Books was founded in 1975 in St. Paul, and ended up in its current location in 1991 after another spending a decade on Franklin and Chicago in Minneapolis. Mayday Books is a volunteer-run, non-profit collective bookstore in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Its organizational mission is to provide leftist political books and magazines and a space for political organizing. Mayday Books carries a selection of new and used political books, magazines, zines, t-shirts, postcards, and select CDs and DVDs.
From their website: Midwest Mountaineering is a Mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, providing the best gear and clothing for adventure travel, backpacking, canoeing, cross country skiing, frisbee golf, hiking, ice climbing, kiting, mountaineering, nordic skating, nordic walking, sea kayaking, rock climbing, telemark skiing, ultralight backpacking, and whitewater kayaking.
Every other night, you can find entertainment at The Red Sea Nightclub, Bar & Restaurant.
According to their website, Keefer Court is a family oriented business; we provide a variety of mouth watering delicious buns and pastries. We are widely known for our Barbeque Pork and Curry Beef Buns. They also offer dine-in and take-out for Chinese meals. Caren suggests Fried sesame balls, curry puff and egg tarts.
Acadia Cafe offers lunch, dinner and happy hour specials. They also have a stage with regular performances.
Another entertainment venue in Cedar-Riverside is the 400 Bar. A random fact I learned on their website is that their official 400 Bar T-Shirt is featured in Green Day's American Idiot Broadway musical.
"The Wienery was started in the early 1980s by an an entreprenuerial couple who brought Chicago dogs to the Twin Cities, Al and Jean Wohl. Jerry Petermeir bought the restaurant in 1987, engendering a loyal following of wiener lovers. Jerry sold the Wienery to Airaq in 1999. Pat added breakfast to the Wienery menu when he started working for Airaq, who then sold him the restaurant [in 2000]." Source: Wienery website.
"The Cedar Cultural Center (also known as the Cedar) is a highly eclectic music venue known for hosting a wide variety of folk, blues, jazz, indie rock and world artists, as well as films, spoken word performances, dances, and community events. The Cedar is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization operated by a small professional staff, with assistance from a large pool of volunteers." (Source: The Cedar Cultural Center website).
I am not sure why I don't have a photo of this entire mural but you can see it in its entirety thanks to Baron Dave.
"The Nomad World Pub is a cool, small concert venue in the Twin Cities, replacing the much outdated, yet classic 5 Corners Saloon. They have jumped into the Minneapolis Music Scene full boar by booking, in their first year, some of the better concerts around.
The Nomad [opened in 2005, with its] roots as a successful music venue in Milwaukee. They mostly play live music and/or have great games on the patio like lawn bowling and croquet (2 large patios). They also air international soccer games and encourage lively mingling of their guests. Our favorite part is the extensive beer list made up of delicious, yet incredibly rare and hard-to-find brews; over 20 varities on tap that make good on the claim "World Pub." Note: The Nomad Pub does not serve food, so make sure to get dinner beforehand!" Source: The Thrifty Hipster
The current owners of Palmer's Bar, Lisa Hammer and her husband, Keith Berg, recently celebrated their tenth anniversary owning the nearly century-old building as recounted by the Star Tribune blog post by Chris Riemenschneider. The bottom right photo above shows a piece of Minneapolis history that I may not have noticed had I not been walking around with an urban planning minded guide. It is what remains of a former foot bridge that crossed over Cedar Avenue.
Just one example of how the diversity found in Cedar-Riverside requires negotiating can be found at the 500 block of Cedar Avenue South. As mentioned in the aforementioned Star Tribune article, the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Civic Center shares a wall with the music venue. The bar learned a lesson in respecting religious practices when it discovered that one if its loudest acts was performing during Ramadan and impacted the Muslim's ability to pray. The two groups now work together to avoid such conflicts.
Also demonstrating the shifting demographics is a look into the history of what was in the space before the Islamic Civic Center - Electric Fetus (links to a PDF of the history). Shown above, the Minnesota Micro Systems "ghost mural" is left over from the 1970's.
The Minneapolis mural at the top is the work of youth involved in Action Crew and other Brian Coyle Center programs. Each summer, they work with an artist to design and paint at least one large community mural to contribute to the beautification of the neighborhood and help reduce graffiti.
As told on their website, in "1974 Freewheel Bike was founded by a small group of progressive bike nuts who were looking to challenge the norms of the 1970’s bike industry. With a loan of $600 dollars and an eagerness to change the world, this small group of cyclists started a movement. Paying a livable wage and creating a valuable resource for the dedicated cyclists of Minneapolis were at the heart of their mission." (Source: Freewheel Bike website)
Riverside Avenue Businesses & Organizations
One of Caren's favorite places in the neighborhood, Afro Deli & Coffee serves delicious African dishes. Thankfully, Caren suggested this as our meeting place so I was able to try, and fall in love with, their sambusas (pictured). Caren also highly recommends the Somali Sweet Spiced Tea. Caren especially appreciates the diverse clientele that comes into the restaurant, a sentiment echoed by its owner/manager, Abdirahman Kahin shares. He and I talked about his favorite aspects of owning a restaurant near the University of Minnesota and he mentioned the diversity of the students immediately. Kahin was recently featured in the Star Tribune article, "The art of the sambusa" by Allie Shah.
Sharing space with the deli is an important resource for African immigrants to the state of Minnesota - The African Development Center of Minnesota (ADC). "Through workshops and consultations on financial literacy, business development, and home ownership, ADC provides culturally competent services to Minnesota’s African community." (Source: ADC website)
According to its own website, "Trinity Lutheran Congregation is the only remaining Christian congregation located in Cedar-Riverside. Trinity is originally a Norwegian immigrant Lutheran church, with roots in the Lutheran Free Church. Our theology is solidly Lutheran. Our new immigrant members are largely from Mekane Yesus, the Lutheran Church in Ethiopia." (Source: Trinity Lutheran Congregation website)
"Cedar Riverside People’s Center was founded in 1970 by grassroots organizers who sought to address the needs of the economically and socially disenfranchised. The result was one of Minnesota’s first free medical clinics. Back then, the clinic was staffed by volunteer medical personnel and had very limited hours of operation. Today, we are a Federally Qualified Health Center that is staffed by professional physicians, nurse practitioners, and social workers, with daily hours of operation and a variety of programs and services." (Source: People's Center Health Services website)
"Formerly home to such companies as Joking Apart, Mary Worth, Pig’s Eye, Minnesota Shakespeare Project, and others, its [People's Center Theater] history dates back to the 1970s when it was home to the longest running Women's Theater Company in the United States, At the Foot of the Mountain." (Source: People's Center Theater section of the website)
Hard Times Cafe, an employee owned restaurant, is open all day except a two hour window from 4 AM until 6 AM.
Broadcasting since 1978, "KFAI is a volunteer-based community radio station that exists to broadcast information, arts and entertainment programming for an audience of diverse racial, social and economic backgrounds. By providing a voice for people ignored or misrepresented by mainstream media, KFAI increases understanding between peoples and communities, while fostering the values of democracy and social justice." (Source: KFAI website)
A side note is that my guide for the soon-to-be-published Willard-Hay neighborhood tour, Bill Cottman, hosts Mostly Jazz with his daughter, Kenna.
Both of my guides pointed out that KFAI is located in the "historic Bailey Building" - something that KFAI also points out on its website. Though I've only looked through the AIA Guide to the Twin Cities and the usual internet search, I have not found any significant information. I'm hoping that my Minnehaha Tour guide, Ian Stade, librarian of Special Collections at the Minneapolis Central Library will be able to assist me in finding information. If you have information about the Bailey Building, please add it to the comments section.
Institutions of Higher Education and Healthcare
University of Minnesota West Bank
An important anchor to the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, the University of Minnesota's West Bank campus includes: The Social Sciences, the Carlson School of Management, the Law School, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, and the West Bank Arts Quarter (art, theatre arts, dance and music). Wilson Library, the largest in the university system and Middlebrook Hall, the largest residence hall, are also on the West Bank.
A partnership between Fairview Hospitals and the University of Minnesota, Amplatz Children's Hospital [now University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital] opened in April, 2011.
"Augsburg College educates students to be informed citizens,thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders.
The Augsburg experience is supported by an engaged community that is committed to intentional diversity in its life and work. An Augsburg education is defined by excellence in the liberal arts and professional studies, guided by the faith and values of the Lutheran church, and shaped by its urban and global settings."
Source: Augsburg College website.
Augsburg College Campus Kitchen Project/ Augsburg Community Garden – Launched in October 2003, the Campus Kitchen Project works to provide healthy food for the community and uses this activity to build leadership, provide service learning, and connect the campus with the larger neighborhood community. Students serve free meals at over eight neighborhood locations, maintain a garden on campus for people to grow their own food, help host farmers markets on campus and at the community center, and provide education to enhance cooking and gardening skills. (Source: Augsburg College Community Partner Handbook)
St. Catherine University
The mission of the St. Catherine's University School of Health: "The Henrietta Schmoll School of Health educates diverse learners and engages clinical and community partners to influence health, health systems and health policy. The School is distinguished by an emphasis on relationship-centered care, socially responsible leadership and interdisciplinary initiatives." (Source: College of St. Catherine website).
* City of Minneapolis Cedar-Riverside neighborhood profile
* Cedar-Riverside Neighbors Forum
* West Bank Community Coalition
* West Bank Business Association
* Cedar Riverside Neighborhood Revitalization Program
* More Cedar-Riverside neighborhood photos
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I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment. What was your favorite part of this tour? What places do you plan on visiting? Do you live and/or work in the neighborhood? If so, do you have additional information on any of our tour highlights?