The Minneapolis Warehouse District, including the North Loop neighborhood, makes an attractive statement for urban revitalization in a historic district. It also benefits from its proximity to downtown. However, a commercial district is only as valuable as the sum of its parts. Public alleys, often overlooked, offer a window into the functional yet unrefined features of an urban district.
1890 was a pivotal year in the history of the city. The City of Lakes was becoming a city of railroads, dominated namely by the expansion of James J. Hill's Great Northern Railroad. A settlement between the city, two railroads, and a streetcar operator resulted in lowering the 4th Avenue rail yard below grade. It paved the way for massive westward expansion and development. As rail spurs filled alley corridors, even the configuration of building frontages were forced to adapt. The direct relationship between alleys and railroad infrastructure helped to shape how industrious Minneapolis did business.
North Side Crossings, a title taken from a 1885 story in the Minneapolis Tribune, will focus upon public alley corridors that facilitated rapid growth of the Warehouse District. This tour will look at how alleys played a critical role in today's built environment of the historic district, the changing ways in which alleys have provided access, and how their shared space dynamics continue to provide exceptional opportunities for growth and equity.
This tour walks about 2.25 miles and is not ADA accessible.
Tour guide Christian Huelsman is the Executive Director of Cincinnati-based Spring in Our Steps, which enhances, programs, and advocates for public spaces, such as alleys and hillside stairways. He holds a B.A. in urban planning from the University of Cincinnati. He now resides in Minneapolis, where he promotes safer, more vibrant walking experiences through the City's Pedestrian Advisory Committee and the Minneapolis Alley Initiative for Neighborhood Stimulation.