Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Urban Hike and Bike: All Over the Nordeast Map

Nordeast (Northeast Minneapolis) encapsulates much of the early working class history of Minneapolis, but it gets short shrift in guide books.

Recently I've been exploring Nordeast, trying to decode it's history and culture. Later in this post I'll introduce some tools I've developed, including an interactive map and a feature to customize and print Nordeast guides.

But first, here's some background.

Escapes From Urban Planning

Nordeast was platted in the 1840's. Commercial, industrial, institutional, and residential buildings were built right next to each other: houses, churches, bars, retail, factories, side-by side.
When Minneapolis brought in zoning codes in the 1920's, the area was already built up.

When freeways were dropped onto America's cities in the 1950's and 60's, Nordeast missed out. Interstate 335 was planned to go right through the middle of the community, some land was cleared, but the freeway was never built.

Interstates 35 and 94 divided and destroyed other Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) communities. Strong relationships and historical context were lost, bland development thrived. Working class and African American communities bore the largest share of this destruction.

But working class Nordeast families, who would have been cleared or divided by a freeway, remained in their community. They didn't rush, en masse to new subdivisions to erect physical and emotional barriers against "the other."

This is no static community. The affordability of the old housing stock, the proximity to jobs, the underlying stability, and welcoming attitudes have always made this a destination for new Americans.

Nordeast lacks the kinds of commercial development associated with freeways. There's no indoor shopping mall, no hotels clustered around freeway exits, no concentrations of fast food franchises, no vast parking lots. Instead, there's an extraordinary number of historical buildings and locally owned businesses to explore on foot or bicycle.
Today's Nordeast

Nordeast is home to working class, multi-generational families and new Americans. People either settle or use the community as a rung on the ladder. [Population statistics.]

A mix of homes caters to moderate and lower incomes. Yards are tidy, there's sidewalks, commercial areas are within walking distance.
A Minneapolis cop told me the crime rate in Nordeast (2nd Precinct) is the lowest in Minneapolis. [Crime map.]

Immigrants have come in waves. Central Europeans have left a strong mark, but today's Nordeast is also home to people from many non-European countries, including Somalia and Latin American countries.

African Americans have moved in from less-stable neighborhoods. Artists have set up their studios in former industrial buildings, bringing creativity, energy, and sometimes inconvenient ideas.
There are many churches, some with national roots, some holding services in languages other than English. A mosque in a residential street demonstrates a level of tolerance.
Businesses and institutions reflect the people who live here, rather than the visions of remote marketeers. Locally owned shops, restaurants, and little bars directly front sidewalks rather than huge parking lots.
Exploration Tools

Sometimes I've cycled with a friend who has relatives who lived in Nordeast, other tmes I've cycled or walked alone. Rather than following a set route, we've zigged and zagged: our theme word is "meander."

It was frustrating trying to align points of interest (POI) with cycle routes, so I developed an interactive map. The map has become a placeholder for almost 150 POI, along with photographs, descriptions, and links to further information.

Now, I can stand anywhere in Nordeast, look at the interactive map, and know what is around me.

Here's some tips for using the map and the data it contains:
  • The map is best viewed large.
  • Simplify the map by deselecting layers and zooming in.
  • Click on points of interest for photos, descriptions, and links to additional information. 
  • View the map in your phone's browser or the Google My Maps app where it will be location aware. As you walk along, or pause your bicycle, you can identify points of interest that surround you.
  • Produce your own customized printable map and guide here. (Give the link several seconds to display. Printing works best with the Mozilla Firefox browser.) Adjust the map to the area you want to explore. Below the map you'll see descriptions and photographs of the points of interest in the map area you selected. 
  • Take a virtual tour in Google Earth in 3D:
    1. View the large map.
    2. Select Download KML to produce a Google Earth .KMZ file. 
3. Open the file in Google Earth. (Be sure to have Google Earth installed and the 3D Buildings overlay selected.)
  • You can view all my photos presented in the map here.
  • Check back another time: I'm still developing the map.
  • Thank you Map Person for implementing and hosting a site that converts Google My Maps to a printable format. 
  • I've discussed Nordeast Minneapolis in several posts.

No comments:

Post a Comment