Nicollet Island may be best known as home to the Grain Belt Beer sign, re-lit in 2017. But the island's greatest claim to fame is as the site of the first bridge to cross the Mississippi River, in 1865. The next year, a referendum that would have made the island a public park failed. Instead the island developed as a microcosm of the city, with its own industrial, commercial and residential zones. Then in the 1980s, the city succeeded in making much of the island into parkland after all. The tour starts at the south tip, overlooking St. Anthony Falls, then circles the island with special emphasis on the intact 19th century neighborhood at the north tip.
The tour walks about 1 mile, and with a few modifications, is ADA accessible.
The tour is led by Chris Steller, a Nicollet Island resident who has been leading walking tours of the island for 25 years. He was editor of the Southeast Angle and The Bridge, now-defunct neighborhood newspapers.