Neighborhood Spotlight: Northeast Minneapolis

I love living and spending time in the Twin Cities, but I have a few favorite spots in particular. As I’ve mentioned previously, Uptown and the Chain of Lakes in the summer time are truly superb. Grand Avenue also is a unique neighborhood to explore. But, I think the spot I love the most, and the one where I’ve spent the most time, is Northeast Minneapolis—or just “northeast” as we locals call it.

Stone Arch Bridge
Photo by Jeremy Nelson

Starting with the Stone Arch Bridge and Main Street, Northeast is truly the birthplace of Minneapolis. Father Louis Hennepin, a French missionary, called this area home starting in 1680. He discovered the Mississippi’s only waterfall, naming it St. Anthony after his patron saint. These falls (explore the lock and dam, if you’re interested) were then the main power for the flour mills that lined the banks in later centuries. In 1883, James J. Hill established the Stone Arch Bridge (now a bike- and pedestrian-only pathway) as a rail connection between both sides of the river.

Years later, Polish, German, and Scandinavian immigrants settled here and the area remains a hotbed of culture with restaurants, shops, and nightlife. It’s where my college friends and I would celebrate birthdays—at the kitschy, yet well-loved (Best Bar in America), Nye’s Polonaise Room, complete with a sing-a-long piano and the World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band. It’s where my husband and I had our engagement photos taken, and more recently, our family photos with our son and baby-to-be. It’s where we celebrated my best friend during her bachelorette party, sitting on Pracna’s patio on a hot summer night and quizzing her on how well she knew her husband-to-be. It’s where I meet my girlfriends for rare nights out, sipping coffee and wine (and noshing on pie or housemade gelato) at Wilde Roast.

I’ve met friends for happy hours at the Bulldog, watched an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives filmed at Kramarczuk’s, caught several flicks at the theater, purchased gifts at Pacifier, Bibelot, and I Like You, and gotten an inexpensive cut and color at Aveda Institute. While the summer months are grand along Main Street, with the restaurant doors flung open (or grab a group and a pedal pub), it’s a happenin’ place year-round. The area lights up around the holidays, the wine bars feel cozy, and the clippity-clop of the horse-drawn carriages through the snow take you away from present day. You can almost hear silver bells in the air and, “City sidewalks, busy sidewalks…”

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