North Loop neighborhood makes the northern part of the loop that encircles Minneapolis' downtown. The neighborhood extends from Plymouth Avenue on the north to Interstate 394, which makes the southern boundary. The western boundary is Interstate 94. The boundary continues along 12th Street North to Third Avenue North, then to Washington Avenue, and Hennepin Avenue. The Mississippi River is the northeastern boundary.
The neighborhood grew very fast in the last few years, as industrial buildings and old warehouses were converted for residential and commercial uses. This transformation was followed by new residential construction. The North Loop, which used to be industrial land, is now a vibrant residential neighborhood, very conveniently located near the downtown core.
Source: City of Minneapolis neighborhood profile
I met Jan Elftmann at the Linden Hills Festival after I spent about 15 minutes admiring her art car. Jan is an Artist, ArtCar artist, Director of the ArtCar + ArtBike's of Minnesota, Curator of 801 Art Gallery, Educator of Art, Science and Engineering and a foodie!
As Director of Art Cars of Minnesota her work involves directing, curating, producing, organizing, promoting, writing grants, and participating in the yearly activities of the ArtCars, including the ArtCar Parade cruise, with her ArtCars, the Cork Truck (needs a new engine and new tires) and the Holey Circle. As you can imagine, much has been written about Jan and her art cars and the article Holey ArtCars! by Norma Smith Olson is a great account of Jan's work in art and science within in the community and in schools.
Jan's husband, Dave Lewis, is a fabulous, passionate cook, drummer and Art Buyer at Fallon, an advertising agency in Minneapolis.
To access the map and walk this route yourself, visit North Loop on MapMyWalk.com.
I was first introduced to Allen Christian through his "Loaf of Wonder Why" trailer which I documented as part of my Seward neighborhood tour. I learned that his studio and gallery were in the North Loop and when I informed him that my tour guide would be Jan, I learned that they have know each other since their days at Minneapolis College of Art and Design in the '80's.
Allen wants the community to interact with him and his art and because of his electrical background, has set up systems in the front of his studio/gallery in which passerby can play with him anytime- day or night. When Allen is sculpting in the studio, you can "enter his world" and see his creations and purchase one you like. He has a wall of plasma cuttings that have a $69 price tag for a piece of his art - a steal if you ask me. He also has other types of sculptures and you can see his work in his online gallery. Allen and his cat, Cassius were so welcoming and I can't wait to return for a longer visit.
The House of Balls is one of many cool spaces in the Colonial Warehouse. Before my tour, I had an iced chai from Moose & Sadie's which I know to be a popular weekend brunch destination. Jan also told me that several artists have studio space in the building including Venus DeMars, a local artist and musician, who started All The Pretty Horses, which celebrated 15 years in 2009.
The tour route is a little misleading because Jan had to move her car after we talked to Allen Christian so we drove to her loft. The good news is that I can now say that I drove in an art car with THE director!
Jan gave me a tour of her loft building, 801 Washington Lofts. Dave and Jan's loft has a garage door and patio leading to a terrace which creates a backyard feel without the worry of maintenance. The building is also home to a gallery, Art at 801, which features rotating artists every four months with corresponding openings three times a year. Sculptures are also on the private terrace- pictured above is a sculpture by Allen Christian. Jan also showed me the rooftop deck which all 801 Lofe residents can access.
As we left Jan and Dave's home, Jan pointed out some symbols which she informed me where used by hoboes to communicate with one another. I have never heard of hobo signs and symbols but there are several websites dedicated to the topic so I guess I have some research to do. In looking at a few sites, I am not able to translate what this particular hobo was trying to say.
Parts of 8th Avenue North have exposed wooden block pavers, a glimpse into material that was used in the early 1900's as described in this Water and sewage works article published in 1912.
We stopped at Club Jager so Jan could show me their patio, where she suggests I have a drink in the winter by their fire pit. Inside, the bar seating area are made of amazing woodwork. I was not able to capture the beauty because it was so dimly lit and I did not want to disturb the patrons. I did manage to document the beauty of Terrence Payne, a fine artist who founded Rosalux Gallery, a cooperative art gallery.
One of Jan's favorite places to go is The Salvation Army within blocks of her home. While she doesn't make use of it, many people are attracted to this location because it is where Target sends all of their samples.
Jan showed me where the horses live who are employed by The Hitching Company for carriage rides in various Minneapolis locations. We didn't see any horses and it is still hard for me to believe that they are really kept there. I guess the fence and the bandana are a couple of pieces of evidence to trust.
Cordsets, Inc. awning certainly is the runner-up to the World's Largest Electric Plug, a Ken Nyberg sculpture 184 miles away in Vining, MN.
This reminded Jan of her friend, Erika Nelson, the creator of the World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things Traveling Roadside Attraction and Museum. Erika was on Conan in 2010 which has a cautionary tale of blow torches and metal turkeys from Frazee, MN.
Dave and Jan often dream of owning a restaurant so it is perfect that they live a short walk away from a Jos F. Palen Restaurant Equipment. They had everything from patio tables to industrial ovens to a tower of dishwasher racks. The guard dog had a tough bark but he quickly made friends with Dave. That said, I'd obey the no trespassing sign.
Jan pointed out this building because she thinks it looks like it is out of the South. I immediately wanted to identify what it was and the only clue is a sign reading "Consumer Electronics Group Receiving". Jan wanted their photo taken in front of it and I guess it does make a nice textural backdrop.
Moments before walking by the Fire Station #4, we saw a rescue boat being hauled by a large suburban with sirens and lights going off. It is hard to know what was happening but our guess was it involved the Mississippi River.
Potholes in this part of the city at least reveal a bit of history! There is exposed brick under the pavement.
On our walk, we met a man who was touring this section of the city because it is where he grew up. It is hard to imagine but he remembers there being a lot of houses similar to the one pictured above. This home is now connected to the building that houses Stafford Photography.
Another visually out of place building is a Pepto-Bismol pink cement block building which is home to the Faith Deliverance Holiness Church. A Pentecostal church with several services a week.
Established in 1980, the Greater Lake Country Food Bank (GLC) was founded by Hy Rosen, Al Hoffman and former U.S. Congressman Jim Ramstad. In 2007, Ray Nest wrote an article about the Rosen and GLC in his Twin Cities Daily Planet article titled Hy Rosen And The Greater Lake Country Food Bank.
The above building had no significance to my tour guides, Jan just likes repetition. We have no clue what this means.
Dave and Jan talked of what has changed in the neighborhood and at the corner of 5th St N and 6th Ave N. They told me that there was a great diner in the now vacant lot next to the Weather Rite building. I tried to find the name of it but I couldn't located it. They also said that the new Holiday Stationstore used to be a T&Y. Another new development is the Hennepin County Energy Recovery Center about which they were not too pleased.
Jan wanted to show me the Ford Center because it was home to many artists and it is where she had her first studio. Read Target Field’s Funky Old Neighbor: Historic Ford Centre
I'll admit that covering Fulton Brewing Company's brewery is not because of Dave and Jan. I bent my personal rule of only covering items highlighted by the tour guides themselves. My rationale is that I am married to a home brewer and beer enthusiast and we live near the birthplace of the beer, it's namesake, Fulton neighborhood. Beer fanatics will be excited to learn that the brewery is slated to open sometime mid 2011.
Even if they have only gone to one game since Target Field opened in 2010, Dave and Jan are happy to have it in the North Loop neighborhood. If for nothing else, it brought the light rail closer to them. Jan likes seeing the crowds fill the stands on her ride home from work.
Everywhere I looked, there was a photo opportunity. Dave and Jan said that the above photo is a popular filming location.
Dave and Jan endorse the work and customer service of Imported Car Service Corporation. They do not have a website but they are located at 201 Washington Avenue North and their phone number is (612) 332-6366.
The topic of zoning and adult entertainment clubs and shops came up a couple of times on my walk. Historically, many of these venues were near the Mississippi River because of the proximity to longshoreman.
At the top of my list of places to return is Haute Dish. It was mentioned by Allen Christian as his favorite restaurant in the North Loop neighborhood and I've wanted to go since reading a Heavy Table review.
One part coffee shop and one part bicycle shop, One on One Bicycle Studio and Go Coffee is also a recommended stop in North Loop.
We stopped at Runyon's to admire the sign and also so Jan could show me the original tile which reads "Gayety Annex". From a City of Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission Report: "Located at 107 Washington Avenue North, the Runyon building was originally constructed as the Gayety Annex in 1895. The Gayety building was demolished in 1965; a surface parking lot marks the site, immediately west of the Runyon building."
Dave and Jan sang the praises of Mitrebox which according to its website "features hundreds of framing mouldings, as well as, fine photo frames, beveled mirrors, letter-pressed cards, gifts and vintage items to charm your family and friends or to enhance your home."
Midwest Motorcycle rents Harleys, scooters, exotic cars and other "crazy toys".
Dave and Jan pointed out two tennants within the 250 Third Avenue North building: Traffic Zone Center for Visual Arts and Bev's Wine Bar.
Dunn Bros Coffee at 228 Washington Avenue North is a popular destination in the North Loop.
Dave is a musician and has family in the business he and Jan pointed out the Institute of Production and Recording on our tour. A couple of students, Colt and Shalanie, were taking a break on the steps when we walked by and they were kind enough to let me take their photo. They both have rock star names so I see a bright future for them!
Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine describes Monte Carlo as "John Rimarcik's longtime bar/grill boasts one of the most iconic bars, supper clubby atmosphere, and generous portions of American fare" but I have a new way of describing this restaurant. It will forever be known to me as the site where Jan Elftmann proposed marriage to Dave Lewis. Their wedding date? 8-8-88 of course! I just love their story and am so glad they can return to this restaurant so easily since it is in their neighborhood.
Dave is in love with the Commutator Foundry building at 125 N 1st Street. The information I found on the building may be outdated: Photos by Errol Stewart in 2003 and a Downtown Journal article dated 12-6-2004.
This fantastic building, 124 N. 1st Street is home to charles s. anderson design which specializes in identity development, packaging and product design. Read more about their impressive work here.
Owners Ann and Yulin Lin came up with the concept for Local D'Lish while living in China. Read more about the store here. You can also find them at the Mill City Farmers Market on Saturdays.
Ribnick Fur & Leather has been family-owned and operated since 1945.
James I. Rice Parkway is part of the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway.
One way to enjoy the Mississippi River is to take a voyage on the Minneapolis Queen.
We ran into Bob Schmitz of Above the Falls Sports and he encouraged us to experience the Mississippi by rowing.
Too dark to take photos, we took a sunset hike to the bridge over Bassett Creek (a photo I took in 2009).
Since it was a "school night" for me, I had to call it an evening without truly experiencing Bunkers Music Bar and Grill. Playing that evening was Soulicious. Jan and Dave tell me that Prince has been known to perform at Bunkers and check out other musical acts.
North Loop Links
* North Loop Neighborhood Association
* North Loop neighborhood profile
* North Loop covered by Live MSP
* More North Loop photos
Invite me back!
Jan and Dave showed me a huge chunk of the North Loop neighborhood but I know there is more to cover. In fact, Jan e-mailed me with a list of things to make sure are included in my next tour: Free Spirit Publishing, Penco Art Store, Sapor, Black Sheep and Cuzzy's, just to name a few. Would you like to help me continue getting to know the North Loop neighborhood. 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?