Corcoran neighborhood, just east of Powderhorn Park, is between Lake Street East and 36th Street East and between Cedar Avenue South and Hiawatha Avenue. Named in honor of William Wilson Corcoran (1793-1889), who founded the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., this is a mainly residential neighborhood – more than 60 percent of the land is used for single-family residences. The light-rail stop at Lake Street gives the neighborhood an easy connection to Downtown, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and the Mall of America. In addition, plans to develop the Lake Street corridor as a commercial thoroughfare are under way, and will have an important local impact.
Source: Minneapolis Neighborhood Profile.
Amy Arcand has been the Executive Director of the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization for 9 years. She and her husband, Jim have lived in Corcoran for 8 years. They have a 3 year old daughter, Piper, so most of their free time is spent at the park, playing in the yard, coloring, painting, going for walks, swimming, playing Candy Land, or pretending they are princesses. Jim and Amy love to camp, travel, cook, and hang out with their friends and family. Jim plays golf in a league at Hiawatha Golf Course and Amy has been in a book club with friends for more than 10 years.
While on our walk I learned that Amy has a lot in common with my sister - she graduated from Humphrey with an MPA and studied in Namibia. Her African study abroad experience was through Augsburg in 1993 right after Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa.
For visitors, Amy suggests: To get here, take the [light rail] train to the Lake Street station or ride a Nice Ride bike on the Greenway, then work out at the Midtown YWCA, and finish off with a stop at the Midtown Farmers Market [May - October] for the best locally grown produce in town.
I asked Amy to describe the culture of Corcoran and she had this to say:
Corcoran's cool! It's this little neighborhood with a BIG personality. On every block you will find a mix of renters and owners, cultures, interests, languages, income levels, and new and established residents. The Midtown Farmers Market and the YWCA are like our main street where you can't help but run into people that you know and hundreds of young people flock to our neighborhood every day during the school year to attend South High. We're accessible, with an LRT stop, a great bus route that goes through the neighborhood, and access to the Greenway just a block north of Lake Street. Residents actively engage in projects around the neighborhood like Corcoran GROWS, Mujeres en Accion y Poder, public art, land use planning, community gardening, and National Night Out. Corcoran has it's own monthly newspaper that is created by neighborhood volunteers for over 26 years. For me, it's a great place to live, work, and play and I'm lucky to get to do all three!
We started our tour at Amy's beautiful home and took photos in the backyard. I couldn't help but notice what I thought was a huge barrel of wine or beer! Turns out, it is a sauna! Amy purchased the Minnesota made barrel sauna for Jim's 40th birthday. I've already made reservations for a visit this winter!
Throughout Corcoran, you'll see brightly colored walls on commercial and residential properties. While this public art initiative may have started to combat gang graffiti, it has turned into a community enrichment activity in which artists lead volunteers through the process of mural painting. I was lucky to be part of a major public art project in Corcoran- Paint The Pavement- which you will see at the end of this post.
Corcoran Neighborhood Organization makes it easy for anyone to go on a public art walking or biking tour as they have mapped out all locations. Please remember to be respectful of residents and businesses as many of the murals are on private property.
I highly recommend a walk through Corcoran to see all of the homes and landscapes with unique personalities. It is one of the areas in Minneapolis in which every block has varying styles of architecture. I am certain Corcoran is beautiful any time of year but I am so happy I was able to see the beautiful flowers in bloom. It is clear that Corcoran citizens take pride in their homes - rented or owned.
From Hiawatha Yoga's website: Hiawatha Yoga LLC is a small community based center. We offer small classes that will offer you individual attention for your needs. Hiawatha Yoga strives to build community so people can get to know each other and feel connected to each other and their community. Hiawatha Yoga offers wellness classes for regular people of all body types and needs.
Get social with Hiawatha Yoga: Facebook I Twitter
Before the Minneapolis 81 tours, I ask my guides about notable residents they think I should meet. I was fortunate to run into one of the notables on Amy's list, Joe Hesla. He and his nephew, Sam, were walking passed Hiawatha Yoga and stopped to chat. Joe is co-chair of Corcoran Grows, a Transition Town movement which strives to move from dependence on oil to become more reliant on local resources.
To help promote awareness, Corcoran Grows has hosted public art/repurpose projects for two years in which community members create pieces of art out of unused or underutilized doors. You can see these works of art all over the neighborhood and beyond. After the 2011 event the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization chose several works of art to be displayed on the side of their office.
In addition to a full menu of food and drink, Chatterbox Pub is a great place to bond with your dining companions through a little good old-fashioned friendly competition. The living room style decor lends itself to game pits where patrons can check-out electronic games on Atari, Nintendo and Sega Genesis as well as board games like Yahtzee, Apples to Apples and Jenga.
Find Chatterbox Pub on Facebook & Twitter.
We stopped into The Corner Mini Market to say hello to Abdul and though he would't pose for a photo, I want it to be known that he is an extremely welcoming gentleman. He gave us complimentary sodas and I was excited to find a rare soda - diet and caffeine-free Squirt.
The latest deals are advertised on The Corner Mini Market's Facebook page.
Shear Art Hair Studio is a colorful, Paul Mitchell Focus Salon offering cuts, coloring, waxing and nail services. We met Ashley when we stopped by and she kindly posed for a photo.
Socialize with Shear Art: Facebook I Twitter
The Bratt Tree Company's office is located in a former Pure Oil Station which was renovated to maintain the features of the gas station including the pumps. The history of the company is explained on the website:
Jon Bratt and his father, Walter Bratt founded Bratt Tree Company in 1991, and Jon's brother Stan joined the company the following year, after serving in the U.S. Air Force.The small basement business in the Longfellow community of south Minneapolis has steadily grown.
This home is a certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat which means it meets a set of wildlife-friendly criteria set forth by the National Wildlife Federation. They are also advertising that they are members of Wild Ones- people dedicated to restoring and maintaining native landscapes. This home also features a monarch waystation, a peace pole and a Corcoran Grows painting.
Opened in 2000, the Midtown YWCA is the largest of all the Minneapolis YWCA locations. It features an indoor water park and the attached Minneapolis Sports Center has the largest indoor walking track in the Twin Cities. The Midtown YMCA is accessible by bus and light rail and recently acquired a Nice Ride station making it easy for visitors and people who do not own bikes to enjoy the Midtown Greenway on two wheels (thought it is also fun to walk!).
The Lake Street/Midtown LRT station allows passengers to transfer to three bus lines, one of which is a high frequency line carrying passengers between Minneapolis (Uptown) and St. Paul along Lake and Marshall Street.
The feather in Corcoran's hat is surely the Midtown Farmers Market which was founded in 2003 and a grass roots effort by the volunteers from seven surrounding neighborhoods. "It was the first Minnesota farmers market to accept SNAP-EBT. Each year over 60,000 people visit the market." (source: Midtown Farmers Market website). The Corcoran Neighborhood Organization and supporters of the Midtown Farmers Market are currently active in discussions for land use of 2225 East Lake Street as the Minneapolis Public Schools is selling the property to a developer. The developer has incorporated the market into the current plans which will be unveiled in a public meeting on November 3, 2011.
Please follow this and other important market announcements on Midtown Farmers Market's Facebook and Twitter pages.
People from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy's Farm2School program were on hand at the Midtown Farmers Market to build awareness of their mission and to serve delicious foods. The mission of Farm2School is to: link children to nearby small and mid-size farms and ranches that produce fresh, healthy and minimally processed foods that are served at their schools.
When I saw a tray of yogurt parfaits to sample, I made a bee-line for Seven Sundays. I fell in love with their Ginger-Pear-Macadamia muesli. Hannah and Brady started Seven Sundays artisan muesli after a trip to New Zealand. People can buy their muesli at Midtown Farmers Market, from co-ops around the Twin Cities and through their online store. Find Seven Sundays on Facebook and Twitter.
Kabomelette was suggested to me by Hannah of Seven Sundays. It was fun to watch Greg and family work together to serve up delicious kabobs, omelettes and potatoes. They also started serving at the West Broadway Market. Stay in touch with them on Facebook.
Scott and I had the great pleasure of meeting Tootie Martin when I returned to the market to get better photos for this blog post. He is a the most enthusiastic market vendor I've met. He generously offers samples to introduce the upper-midwest to a southern treat- boiled peanuts. Boiled peanuts are made from green peanuts (un-roasted peanuts grown in small batches) and boiled in heavily salted water for 2-4 hours. I tried and liked the cajun-flavored boiled peanuts.
Like Tootie's Boiled Peanuts on Facebook so you can meet him at an upcoming event!
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Minneapolis, 10 commissioned public art drinking fountains were installed throughout the city. The fountain in front of the Midtown YWCA on Lake Street includes three forms of water: gas-cloud, liquid rain, and solid-ice and reference Minnesota's geology, different rock types, glaciations and water's capacity to erode and flood.
While walking along Lake Street, we ran into Marisol and her daughter. Any was excited to introduce me because Marisol is the leader of an organization of Latina women and is extremely active and dedicated to the community.
Boasting vibrant art inside and out, La Alborada Market strives to be a piece of Mexico in the heart of Minneapolis. In 2009, Heavy Table's Lori Writer interviewed owner Orlando Cruz and gave it a superb rating.
The mission of Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly (LBFE) is to reduce emotional and social isolation and promote well-being and independence among older adults.
Connect with Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly Minneapolis/St. Paul on Facebook.
"First Nations’ Kitchen (FNK) is a ministry of All Saints’ Episcopal Indian Mission in Minneapolis and has been serving healthy, organic, traditional indigenous food in a welcoming, family environment every Sunday evening since November 2, 2008." (source: First Nations website)
"South High School has a tradition of excellence in academic, artistic and athletic achievement. We take pride in the many accomplishments of our students. South has three academic programs: All Nations, Liberal Arts and Open. All programs provide core programming and preparation for college and opportunities beyond high school." (source: South High School website)
Corcoran Park used to to be a school until 1975 when community members pushed for a park. While walking through the park, we met Jaylen (JJ), a 4 year-old Corcoran resident.
As Amy and I were walking, I spotted another Corcoran Grows door and went to take a photo. We lucked out because home owner, Eric and his son, Aldegundo were outside playing. Eric's wife, Lisa joined us to give a tour of their beautiful gardens. I ran into Eric, Lisa and Aldegundo again during Paint The Pavement and where Eric strolled around playing guitar. You can hear Eric's music on his Silva Music Facebook page.
When we toured Corcoran, The Susan Hensel Gallery was not open. I'll definitely go back because her mission is important. From the gallery website:
The Susan Hensel Gallery is devoted to the narrative impulse in art with a mission to
- Communicate stories using all the senses and any media, transforming the personal into universal or political.
- Change reader/observers into active participants in the art experience.
- Share ideas and stories by creating opportunities for public interaction.
The Corcoran Neighborhood Organization's (CNO) office is at 3541 Cedar Avenue South. It's hard to miss because of the stainless steel signage, brightly painted building and framed murals on its south facing exterior wall. With a small staff and a dedicated group of volunteers, CNO accomplishes large, long-term projects and is active in issues that impact their immediate borders as well as the larger South Minneapolis community.
Kalpulli KetzalCoatlicue, a dance troupe directed by Susan De Leon, meets at her and her husband, Bruce Nestor's immigration law practice.
From the group's Facebook page: "The main focus of our kalpulli (learning community) is to conserve and share the cultural teachings of our ancestors, with dance being one of the essential pieces. KetzalCoatlicue pursues this spiritual, mental, and physical vocation with music from the sacred drum, conch shells, seeds, and other instruments gifted by the natural environment."
We lucked out when we passed the office and the dancers were meeting to practice before a performance the next day. Like the group on Facebook so you can learn of their upcoming events!
This summer, Lebanon Lutheran Church celebrated its 100 year anniversary!
One of the highlights of my summer was taking part in the Paint the Pavement event. Led by artist Elise Kyllo, volunteers from all over helped create a beautiful mural at the intersection of 34th Street and 19th Avenue South. Thanks to KSTP Channel 5 Eyewitness News, you can see the bird's eye view of the finished work: video,"Mural Painted on Mpls Street to Help Slow Traffic".
As you can see, there is a lot to love about Corcoran. My favorite quote of the day happened at the end of our tour when Amy said, “People are what make this neighborhood great.”
* City of Minneapolis Corcoran neighborhood profile
* Minnesota Compass neighborhood data - Corcoran (PDF)
* Corcoran Neighborhood Organization website I Facebook I Twitter
* Midtown Farmers Market
* Lake Street Council
Invite me back!
Fill out the tour guide form if you want to take a walk with me and make multiple stops (resuming tours in Spring 2012) or fill out the neighborhood gem nomination form for me to consider featuring a specific person, place or thing (especially interested in winter-friendly gems)!
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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?