Loring Park neighborhood is located in the southwest portion of downtown Minneapolis. The neighborhood is bound on the west by West Lyndale North, Lyndale South and Hennepin avenues; on the south by Interstate 94 and on the east by Highway 65. Interstate 394 and 12th Street North and South form the northern and northeastern borders. The neighborhood is named for its park, Loring Park, which was known as Central Park until its name was changed in honor of Charles Loring, the first superintendent of the Minneapolis park system. Turn-of-the-century brick walk-up apartments and a row of businesses surround the park. The neighborhood is home to important institutions and buildings such as the Basilica of Saint Mary, the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church and the Woman's Club. The Walker Art Center and Guthrie Theater nearby and many restaurants and cafés ensure an active social and cultural life.
Source: City of Minneapolis Profile Page
I had the pleasure of going on two separate tours of the Loring Park neighborhood. Both of my guides take lots of fantastic photos of their neighborhood, please take a look:
Julie moved to Minneapolis after she graduated from Michigan State and lived in Loring Park from 1993 until 1994. She left Minneapolis for career opportunities in Chicago and New York City but when Minneapolis lured her back in 2009, choosing Loring Park as her home, to her, was a no-brainer. In fact, she lives across the street from her first apartment. In addition to working as a Creative Recruiter, hiring people to work in marketing, advertising and design, Julie volunteers to do art therapy once week with Free Arts Minnesota. She enjoys talking about “the arts” as being more than just a visual form. Julie is a natural at reviewing restaurants and other venues because she is a regular contributor to Yelp. While living in Chicago, Julie started a brunch club and continued the group here in Minneapolis.
Ren Rhodman first fell in love with Minneapolis in 2006 as an out-of-state visitor. She fell in love with Loring Park and moved here in 2008. Ren is a telecommuting database administrator and is back to school part-time studying software development. For fun, Ren enjoys photography, knitting and crocheting, and is an amateur naturalist. Her dog, Riker enjoys many walks around Loring Park. You can learn more about Ren’s interests and hobbies on wr3n, now and zen and on Flickr.
Both Julie and Ren focused their tours around the perimeter and within the neighborhood's namesake Park. As I look back at the Loring Park map, I realize there is still much to see! If you want to show me around the eastern sections of the neighborhood, fill out a tour guide form!
Minneapolis Community & Technical College & Surrounding Area
From the Minneapolis Community & Technical College website: Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) is a public two-year college located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. MCTC enrolls nearly 15,000 credit students annually and is an active partner in initiatives designed to strengthen the social, economic and cultural vitality of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
Created in 1996, under the umbrella of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system, MCTC is the result of the merger of two institutions: a technical college with a long history of vocational education dating back to 1914 and an open-enrollment community college established in 1965. Currently, the spacious campus covers 21.6 acres of land and recent expansions include a new state-of-the-art Science Center, culinary kitchen and dining hall and outdoor plaza.
I love the reflection of the Basilica of St. Mary in the Technical Building on the Minneapolis Community and Technical College campus.
I took a continuing education class at MCTC in January 2011. Unfortunately, the campus was empty so I didn't get a great feel for campus life but I found out that the Technical Building offers great views!
Julie: I love stopping into Espresso Royale in the mornings for a coffee and almond croissant to go or on a lazy weekend to hang out on the comfy couches or by the sunny windows to read and sip. I started coming here in the early 90's and was so happy it was still here when I moved back. One of the things that truly breaks my heart about becoming lactose intolerant is that I will never be able to enjoy another one of their ridiculously delicious lattes. Seriously, the pumpkin pie latte in the Fall is almost worth tempting the dietary fates for! The fair trade Ethiopian blend is a pretty fantastic substitute. The ladies in the morning are awesome. They let me bring some of my own coconut milk and always have a smile and conversation to share.
Julie: Eli's Food & Cocktails has been around forever! It was around forever when I moved here in 1993. I think some of the same regulars are still hanging out here too. I love it. It is one of our true neighborhood hangouts. They have really good food, a good bar, cozy atmosphere, a free parking lot, late night kitchen, bartenders who intervene when you are stuck on a lame first date and good specials that rotate weekly.
Eli's Food & Cocktails, Espresso Royale, and Salon Rouge are all tenants within The Bellevue building which used to be called Ozark Flats, which was the scene of the murder of Catherine Ging.
Though this Inspire mural by Jawsh is technically in the Downtown West neighborhood, Julie and I share a love of murals and public art so I'll make the exception and include it in Loring Park! A better photo of this mural is on JawshOne's Flickr: Inspire mural
Julie: I love public art. I love the meter boxes that are hand-painted. I love the Walker Sculpture Garden being across the street. I love urban murals. We have a fun one on the side of Jungle Red Salon and right at the edge of the neighborhood, we have a beautiful mural by Jawsh. I first noticed his work in the breezeway under the skyway on Nicollet Mall. When this new mural went up, I was so excited. Even more so when I noticed his inscription of 6 months cancer free - Inspire. Truly an inspiration! Downtown Journal article.
Julie: When I moved here after college, Bucca di Beppo was our once a week treat. We would get some friends together and order tons of pasta and wine for the table. It was like having big family dinners, without any of the clean up. After I moved away, Bucca started branching out to other cities. I have been able to go and enjoy those same big dinners with friends, but this location is still the one that stands out to me. It just seems more real. Brushetta, calamari, macaroni rosa, arrabiatta, meatballs the size of your face, tiramisu. I have been to Italy and I have an absolute favorite Italian restaurant in NYC, but this particular Bucca will always be special to me. The thing I love about Loring Park is the feeling of community and this Bucca is just another extension of that.
When we stopped to talk about Groceries & Deli on Harmon, Ohran was working and immediately wanted to pose for a picture. He even sweet-talked Sofie into being in the photo with him.
Advertising & Design in Loring Park
Julie is in her element in Loring Park helps connected talented creatives with job opportunities. She pointed out at least 10 advertising and design agencies on our walk. There is no doubt that these businesses help build the character of Loring Park.
Julie: I love to watch the trades to see what they are all up to and to walk by their spaces. Black is a particular favorite to walk past. I love their tank of nurse sharks juxtaposed against their giant Audrey Hepburn window display!
PMH (Peterson Milla Hooks) Ad Agency has an impressive portfolio of clients but their story of helping to transform the Target brand makes this Minneapolis-based agency is understandably proud. From their website:
As Target's long-time agency, PMH created a look, feel and personality that transformed Target from a dowdy discounter into one of most iconic brands in the world. Our work for Target has touched just about every category you can think of - designer partnerships, apparel, beauty, home, music, electronics, performance apparel, even toothpaste and toilet paper. Our work has won many creative awards, but we're proudest of this achievement: Target is $50 billion stronger than the day we started.
A team of 15 people, led by co-founders, Molly Rice and Andy Slothower, Spyglass Creative works with many international brands as well as emerging companies.
Olson is a an expanding agency that has outgrown its Loring Park space and I'm told they will be relocating to the Downtown West neighborhood. They have an impressive list of clients and if you have even the slightest interest in advertising, you'll find their Fast Facts pdf interesting.
Julie was able to set-up a time for us to get a look inside one of the many design firms in Loring Park. YYES has a stylish, open office above Lurcat with views of the park and Walker Art Center.
More about YYES from their website: YYES is a boutique design, branding, and advertising studio headquartered in Los Angeles and with offices in Minneapolis. Co-founded by Ron Fleming and Brent Stickels in 2000, YYES provides award-winning design, branding, and advertising for fast-moving companies in a wide range of industries, and was recently recognized with Pacific Design Center’s 2010 Stars of Design award in the graphic design category.
Harmon Place on Loring Park
The Fawkes buildings are part of the Harmon Place Historic District. Leslie Fawkes was an auto dealer and the buildings once included an office, showroom, garage and warehouse.
Julie: I am not into being fancy for the sake of being fancy, but I do love great food and wine in interesting architectural spaces. Lurcat is so lovely. I have spent many evenings in the lounge near the bar, sipping wine on the big couches and nibbling on dishes like the rotating apple salad (the last one had manchego and was ridiculously good!). In the summer, you can enjoy the patio outside or the really cold a/c inside. There is a bit of longing for the late Loring Cafe when I come here, but it is mostly just a reminiscence of good times from that era. The Loring Cafe was one of those magical, special, places. Nothing can ever really stand a chance at 100% replacing that. ...but Lurcat does have that apple salad!
Julie: As a self-proclaimed design nerd, how can I resist Lunalux? Letterpress rocks. I love that they put their presses right up front so you can see them.
From MetroMag Drinkers Guide to the Twin Cities, Best Scott Seekins Viewing Spot: "Scott “white suit in the summer, black suit in the winter” Seekins is a performance artist who never stops performing. Your best chance of catching him in action is at the spare, elegant bar at Nick & Eddie, which shares the same building as his art studio. On the off chance that he’s not there, you can at least view a couple of his infamous (and slightly creepy) Britney Spears paintings adorning the restaurant’s walls."
Julie: When I first moved here from Chicago, I asked my rocker friends where I should hang out that had popped up since I last lived here. Nick & Eddie, Psycho Suzi's and Sample Room [Psycho Suzi's and Sample room are in the Bottineau neighborhood] were the three places they gave me. All three were winners. I love that Nick & Eddie has a cool patio along the park, great bloody Mary's on the weekend, bands and events, one of the best Nicoise salads around and a really cool vibe. It was also my first introduction to the infamous Scott Seekins. I love just going to hang out at the big old wooden bar, especially at happy hour. When I first moved back, they had Hamm's on tap. I am pretty happy that it has been replaced by Brooklyn Brown Ale!
Julie: I love food trucks. Love them! I follow them on twitter. I stalk them in other cities when I travel. I get happy when I see them at events. I could not be happier that Smack Shack is now [was] at Nick & Eddie on Monday nights for the Summer. They first came to Loring Park during Pride and parked outside of Nick & Eddie. Nick & Eddie's owner, Doug, liked the lobster rolls so much he invited them to come back.
Julie: Okay, I am not sure what this place is, when it is open or how you get in. I have heard that it is part of Nick & Eddie. I see tables and chairs. I have never seen a human come in or out. It is becoming my mission to try to figure it out! If anyone goes, invite me along!
Julie: This alley is one of my favorite spots in the whole city. It has an old-world, charming, almost-Parisian feel. There are always party lights strung across the alley. There are gorgeous old buildings on either side. Cobble stones for pavers. It makes me happy any time I walk through.
Julie: I grew up taking ballet lessons, so I still love going to dance studios. The wide-open wooden floors, the walls filled with mirrors, the music playing overhead and enticing you to dance. I love coming down the alley when 4 Seasons has their doors open. You can hear the music wafting out into the alley that has the little party lanterns already strung up and it is like a party could break out at any moment. I have actually seen dancers in the alley a few times. Pretty sure they came from 4 Seasons, but they also might have been spilling out of the back of Nick & Eddie, who also opens up there. Even when the door is not open, I love the big "DANCE" sign on the side of the door that seems to just serve as a constant reminder to do so.
Joe's Garage [now closed] has had a rooftop dining option since 1996 and it offers views of The Basilica of St. Mary.
The Loring Park
Julie: This is the jewel of our neighborhood. I love commuting into downtown via the Loring Greenway. It is so peaceful and pretty with the tree-lined walkway and fountains. Two of my favorite spots in the park are the flower garden on the west side and the Berger Fountain. I spend a whole lot of time reading outdoors near each. The ponds are much more overgrown than they were in the 90's, but there is still plenty of wildlife around. I saw golden eagles last year. The thing I love most about the park is that it is a gathering spot for the community. It is home to movies & music in the park, the Pride Festival, Critical Mass and many other city events, as well as just a great place for neighbors to get some outdoor time. It has a basketball court, paved walking and bike paths, numerous tennis courts, horseshoe pits, a dog park, shuffleboard courts and a wading pool.
I asked Ren about her favorite place within her neighborhood and she said: Definitely the park. There's a lot of great events at Loring Park (Pride, Art Fair, Movies & Music) and the community center there has activities as well. Plus, it is adjacent to the Walker and the Sculpture Garden (which I think are technically in Lowry Hill East but ya know...).
When Ren inquired with the city about these rocks with plaques, she was told it was done in the past to raise funds for the Park system.
Berger Fountain is in need of repairs and the Citizens for Loring Park Community have started raising funds to save the fountain. Read about "the dandelion fountain's" history in this Southwest Journal article, Fountain Blues, by Scott Russell.
Julie: The Basilica of Saint Mary is the first basilica built in the US. It is home of the annual Block Party concert and where I saw Maya Angelou speak. I am not Catholic, but I love going into the parish to enjoy the architecture of the space and also to listen to their amazing choir.
Julie: St Mark's Episcopal Cathedral is so close to my apartment. I love their sign that says that all are welcome, no matter where you are on your spiritual path, so I have gone to a few services here. They sure walk the walk. The members were very friendly and welcoming.
Julie: I love the stained glass windows on the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church. I will go out of my way to walk by it at night, just to look at them when they are lit up from the inside.
Julie: Chef Tim McKee of La Belle Vie [now closed] is a Beard award winner and it is an honor to have him in our neighborhood. That said, I have never had a meal in the main dining room. I am a Lounge gal. I love that space! Someday, I want a house with their ceiling. The food is terrific and there are few bars I would rather sidle up to that theirs. Johnny Michaels is a cocktail master and Tim is certainly a protege in the making. There is nothing I can throw at them that they cannot master. I rarely order off of the cocktail menu. I usually just give some parameters of what mood I am in and let them go to town.
Note: North Star Cocktails by Johnny Michaels and The Northstar Bartenders' Guild, published by Minnesota Historical Society Press is coming out in November 2011.
At the beginning of my tour with Ren, we spent about 15 minutes sitting on the curb of Oak Street, talking with Loring Park residents, Chris and his Beagle, Bacon, and Riawa. We watched people and dogs stroll by which is a great way to spend some time in the neighborhood as you get a feel for the great diversity of the neighborhood. Because people tend to congregate on the sidewalks outside their homes on Oak Street, everyone I talked with agreed that it’s easy to meet people in Loring Park.
The Ladd House: 131 Oak Grove Street
Currently under review to receive historic preservation status, “131 Oak Grove Street is one of a few remaining opulent, late 1800s residences in Loring Park.The Ladd House was constructed by W.D. Lewis for Henry E. Ladd in 1889 for an estimated $18,000. Harry Wild Jones designed the building in the Richardsonian Romanesque style.”
(Source: City of Minneapolis Historic Preservation Study)
"An impressive center-court apartment building, exceptionally well detailed in brick, glazed terra-cotta, and cast-stone (a form of concrete). It was originally known as the Bronzin, a name created by combining those of its owners, Harry Zinman and Solomon Brochin. Note the blue and gold terra-cotta panels above the front windows, some of which sport fire-breathing dragons." Millet, L. (2007). AIA Guide to the Twin Cities. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press.
Emerson a Spanish Immersion Learning Center and boasts beautiful tile mosaics above the doors and paintings on the green space.
Part of my Loring Park neighborhood tour included a chance to take photos from the rooftop of Summit House Towers, courtesy of Mark. He works at Oak Grove Grocery and has lived in Loring Park for more than 30 years.
Oak Grove Grocery is a family-owned neighborhood grocery store. Ren likes having the convenience of being able to get essentials quickly and enjoys that the people who work there care so much about the community.
Ren and Riker live in the Oak Grove Apartment Hotel and she enjoys the beautiful courtyard and art deco style. These photos do not do this amazing property justice. Please view better interior and exterior shots on the property management website.
Loring Park Links
* Citizens for Loring Park Community
* The Friends of Loring Park
* City of Minneapolis Loring Park neighborhood profile
* More of my Loring Park photos
Invite me back!
Fill out the tour guide form if you want to take a walk with me and make multiple stops or fill out the neighborhood gem nomination form for me to consider featuring a specific person, place or thing!
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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?