Get to Know North Minneapolis
Photo courtesy of Farrington Llewellyn
With curbs quickly filled by new businesses taking over, the main drag of W. Broadway Avenue is the new heart of north Minneapolis. North Minneapolis and W. Broadway have deep cultural and historical roots, and they’ve taken it upon themselves to paint the town (literally) with vibrant murals and sculptures by local artists. The art can be seen on storefronts that needed a facelift, new nonprofit organizations, and the now-iconic “Welcome to North Minneapolis” mural that greets visitors driving down W. Broadway Avenue.
What makes this new hub stand out from the rest is the love, hard work, and personal touches its locals have worked tirelessly to put into it. Passing each block down Broadway, you can see how each business has contributed and connected with local artists, community members, and organizations to weave the story of north Minneapolis.
Celebrating ten years this summer, FLOW shows off north Minneapolis’ local artistry and celebrates its radiant point of view. This art crawl started as a small neighborhood celebration, and over ten years, it’s grown into a weekend of block-to-block exhibits celebrating the music, food, and art north Minneapolis has to offer.
This year one of FLOW’s featured highlights was the Pop Up Dinner Party hosted by local nonprofit Breaking Bread Café. The restaurant is devoted to employing local residents and providing a fun, casual dining experience. They specialize in global, health-conscious comfort foods catered to the neighborhood’s multi-cultural community. This pop-up dinner brought local farmers together with visual and culinary artists for a warm summer evening of celebrating community with great food and cocktails.
FLOW also featured the work of Juxtaposition Arts, a nonprofit art education program focused on developing and highlighting creativity and innovation within the youth of North Minneapolis. Juxtaposition opened up their studios to showcase their students’ work, from screen-printing and design to 3D and multimedia arts. Juxtaposition’s showcase within FLOW brought light to the up-and-coming artists and designers born and raised in north Minneapolis.
This organization also plays a key part in developing pop-up events, community engagement activities, and ideas for upcoming city projects, such as the mural designs for façade improvements and even brainstorming ideas for the Nicollet Mall renovation.
Friday mornings in north Minneapolis can be spent strolling through the crowds gathered at the weekly farmers’ market on W. Broadway. North Minneapolis welcomes local vendors selling fresh produce, meat, and poultry at the market, which was started by the West Broadway Coalition a few years back. The project aimed to provide fresh, healthy food choices for the community, which north Minneapolis was lacking before the market opened. It runs from June through early October and has rounded up many regular customers who come prepared with empty bags ready for loading. The vendors are regulars as well, so it’s easy to rely on the products the market will have.
What to watch for
The Twin Cities have seen major improvements in public transportation due to the light rail, which now runs throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul and all the way to the airport/Mall of America area.
A new plan has been implemented to extend the light rail’s Blue Line from Target Field through the northwestern suburbs of the Twin Cities. Stopping in areas of north Minneapolis, Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, Crystal, and Brooklyn Park, this extension will add more than 13 miles of track. The decision has already been made to extend the light rail; however, many proposals are currently under consideration to determine the exact route the light rail will take.
North Minneapolis is an area with a major need for public transportation options, yet it has little accessibility to routes and rail lines. It may be years until the project is permanently set in place and completed, but many are looking forward to an easy transportation option in the future.
Many buildings that reside in north Minneapolis have been standing for decades. Rather than knocking them down, the uniquely designed buildings have been refaced.
Courtesy of the McKnight Foundation through the West Broadway Coalition, many businesses have been awarded façade improvement grants in order to redevelop and redesign. Local north Minneapolis businesses have connected with local artists to help improve their storefronts. No one is the same, yet each adds to the neighborhood’s brand. These refurbished storefronts represent the new art hub era in north Minneapolis.
Storefront painted murals, newly lighted signage, fresh paint jobs, and added awnings have helped businesses such as Breaking Bread Café, Broadway Pub and Grille, and Cookie Cart to grow and have brightened up the street.
Cookie Cart is a nonprofit bakery that strives to provide valuable employment skills to teens in the north Minneapolis area. Since Cookie Cart opened for business in 1988, thousands of teens have gained experience working in a professional setting and learning leadership skills. Their slogan truly says it all: “baking bright futures.”
This successful nonprofit recently shared exciting news: they are broadening their organization with St. Paul expansion. The new program hopes to be ready to bake within the next few years, bringing a great opportunity to youth in the northeast St. Paul area and warm baked goods for the community to enjoy.