Stevens Square-Loring Heights
"A Community Defined"
A History Project Sponsored by the Stevens Square Community Organization and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs
by Liddy J. Howard
Neighborhood Planning for Community Revitalization
Center for Urban and Regional Affairs
University of Minnesota
Table of Contents
1852 - 1906 Conception and Birth *
1907-1928 Growing Pains *
1929 - 1974 Reunification *
Just south of downtown Minneapolis sits a small neighborhood called Stevens Square-Loring Heights, created in 1974. The boundaries of Stevens Square-Loring Heights are formed by Interstates 94 to the north and 35W to the east, Franklin Avenue to the south, and Lyndale Avenue to the west. The two parts of the neighborhood are separated by Nicollet Avenue, a street lined with businesses, restaurants and coffee shops. Loring Heights lies west of Nicollet Avenue, and consists primarily of large homes from the 1800s to 1910s that have been converted into multi-unit dwellings. Stevens Square lies to the east, a densely populated cluster of three-and-a-half story apartment buildings, also from the 1910s. Many people who played key roles in the development of Minneapolis lived in the Loring Heights community in its beginnings. Meanwhile, although the Stevens Square community was platted in 1856, it remained largely undeveloped until the 1900s and 1910s. Only then was it developed into a cluster of apartment buildings housing a diverse middle-income population.
The Stevens Square-Loring Heights community’s history can be divided into three stages: 1852-1906, 1906-1929, and 1929-1974. Like fraternal twins, Stevens Square and Loring Heights shared many of the same traits at their birth in 1852. And, like twins, they had disparities as well, developing at different times and heading in different directions throughout their lives. The years 1906-1929 define this era of differences for Stevens Square and Loring Heights. After the death of a primary landowner in the Stevens Square-Loring Heights neighborhood in 1906, Stevens Square developed into a dense gathering of brownstone apartment buildings. Meanwhile, Loring Heights changed very little, acquiring some new houses and a few apartment buildings on its northern edge. The onset of the Great Depression in 1929 marks the beginning of Loring Heights’ assimilation to Stevens Square. Between 1929 and 1974, urban expansion and economic trends pushed Loring Heights in the direction of its twin, slowly adding new apartment buildings within its boundaries and converting its large houses into multi-unit dwellings.
The city government did not officially recognize Stevens Square-Loring Heights as a neighborhood until 1974, when they used the newly built freeways as convenient boundary lines for the small community. However, Stevens Square and Loring Heights shared much in common and functioned as one cohesive unit long before its official designation as a neighborhood suggests. Although the 1910s divided the two communities architecturally, the effects of urban expansion, suburbanization, and city planning gradually transformed the two geographical orphans into a compatible duo. The following pages use the three stages of development described above to explain how the wealthy residential community of Loring Heights and the apartment district of Stevens Square evolved into the cohesive community that is seen today.
1852 - 1906 Conception and Birth
In 1852, the Fort Snelling reservation along the Mississippi River reduced its borders, leaving large tracts of real estate open for market. Settlers took advantage of the open real estate, formerly off-limits to white settlement, and the population of the small community in the area grew from an estimated 300 people in 1854 to 3,391 by 1857, and 4,607 by 1865.
Minneapolis had a promising future. Located on the western side of the Mississippi River, the city had an advantage in trade and the use of a powerful water source for milling purposes. The rich agricultural lands which stretched to the west and the dense virgin forests looming in the north provided the raw materials necessary for a successful milling city. The lumber and flour industries eventually brought people, wealth, and fame to the city, and Minneapolis established itself as the industrial capital of what was then the Northwest. With growth in industry came growth in business and trade. This growth promised a wealth of jobs, and thus attracted a wide variety of people to the area. Wealthy Yankees from New England moved to Minneapolis in hopes of increasing their fortunes and becoming part of a new era in the Northwest, while immigrants from the Scandinavian countries, Germany, Ireland, and other countries were recruited from both the eastern states and their homelands with promises of land, jobs, and fresh opportunities. As people continued to arrive to Minneapolis from near and far, neighborhoods began to develop around the city’s center and the milling and industrial districts. Two such communities are presently referred to as Stevens Square and Loring Heights.
The area presently known as Stevens Square was first platted in 1856. The area included a portion of Jackson, Daniel, and Whitney’s Addition to the city of Minneapolis, and was divided into standard blocks. By 1874, two men owned the land in Stevens Square. Richard J. Mendenhall owned the land west of Stevens Avenue, the only graded street to run through the area. Nathan B. Hill, a physician, owned the land east of Stevens Avenue.
Mendenhall arrived in Minneapolis from New England in 1856. Recognizing the city’s potential for banking, he wrote to longtime acquaintance Cyrus Beede to join him. The two opened Mendenhall Bank in 1857, one of the first banks in the city. The Panic of 1873 left Mendenhall Bank in financial ruin. Although he continued to work as a banker and loan officer after 1873, Richard Junius Mendenhall turned his attentions to his favorite pastime of horticulture for added financial security. He transformed his hobby into a floral business and converted one city block into greenhouses for his business. Stevens Avenue remained the only graded street to run through the area until the 1880s, when Mendenhall sold part of his holdings, repercussions of the Panic of 1873.
Mendenhall’s wife Abby devoted much of her free time to local charities and social organizations. She performed the majority of her community service at the Bethany Home, located within a short riding distance from Stevens Square on Bryant Avenue South, between 37th and 38th Streets. The Bethany Home opened in 1876 and offered a refuge for "erring women who manifest a desire to return to the path of virtue by procuring employment for their future support." Abby Mendenhall died from pneumonia contracted during one of her visits there.
Dr. Nathan B. Hill married Mendenhall’s sister and delivered at least one of the Mendenhall children. He practiced medicine downtown in the partnership of Hill and Lindley. He lived in various places in downtown Minneapolis throughout his life, including downtown in a house on the corner of Sixth Street and Nicollet. He also lived in Stevens Square, first with the Mendenhall family, then at 1800 Third Avenue South. His son resided at 1910 Stevens Avenue. Aside from some large brick rowhouses on the north half of Mendenhall’s block between 17th-18th Street and 43 other dwellings on the perimeter of Mendenhall and Hill’s land, the 12 blocks of property remained vacant.
Ironically, improvements and further developments in Minneapolis’ public transportation hindered the development of the Stevens Square area, rather than helped it. The streetcar lines on Fourth Avenue South, and later on Nicollet Avenue extended south of the neighborhood and did not stop within the boundaries of present-day Stevens Square. Not surprisingly, these lines led to the homes of the prosperous and elite of the city. The street railway system at this time was a private business which built rail where it would get the most ridership, in the neighborhoods of the wealthy. The flat rate for commuting fares meant that those who could afford the commuting fare could live as far out as the railway stretched without any added expense. At the same time, Stevens Square remained well within the standard walking distance of 1-3 miles from downtown. Thus, in the latter decades of the 19th century, Stevens Square remained primarily a thoroughfare for the rail to pass through in order to reach the outlying neighborhoods.
While Stevens Square lacked development in its earliest years, Loring Heights blossomed into a wealthy neighborhood rather quickly. The land presently called Loring Heights was originally owned by Joseph Smith Johnson, whose brother-in-law, Samuel A. Jewett, staked a 150-acre claim for him in 1855. Johnson’s Addition was platted in 1857 and subdivided in 1882, 1883, 1886, 1893, and 1918. This land, combined with William S. King’s Vine Place Addition (platted in 1891) and Thomas Wilson’s Ridgewood Addition (platted in 1881), formed the boundaries of the present-day Loring Park and Loring Heights neighborhoods.
The hilly topography of Loring Heights called for some creative platting. In contrast to the straightforward platting of Stevens Square, the streets in Loring Heights are laid out in a terraced pattern, which are perpendicular to the slope to form east-west streets. Except for the short Clifton Place and fragments of Pleasant and Pillsbury Avenues, there is an absence of north-south streets . . . the terracing sometimes creates an exposed basement story and in some instances creates impressive display shelves for buildings.
The tops of two ridges near Groveland and Ridgewood Avenues were cut away and thrown into the ravine in order to "improve" the site for development.
The first houses were built on these "display shelves", particularly on the block located north of Ridgewood Avenue, along Oak Grove Street, which provided a scenic. view of Loring Pond. The houses sat on long, narrow lots, with plenty of yard in front and back. Horse stables existed on the southern end of the lots, preserving the elegant appearance of the north side. An architectural materials shop at 610-608 Ridgewood Avenue in 1892 suggests heavy construction in the area during that time period.
Loring Heights had many amenities of a country setting: close proximity to beautiful lakes, paved roads, and spacious lots. It had the added bonus of being close to the downtown business and milling districts. By 1892, the entire Loring Heights community had water and sewer lines, as well as gas lighting, making construction that much more attractive. Prosperous Yankees such as Charles S. Pillsbury, William D. Washburn, and George W. Van Dusen built homes large enough for themselves and their families, forming a band of wealth that stretched southwest from Loring Park toward Lake of the Isles, Lake Harriet, and Lake Calhoun. Servants, mostly immigrants from the northern European countries of Ireland, Sweden, Norway, and Germany, also lived in the large dwellings of their employers.
The residents of Stevens Square-Loring Heights area required educational institutions for their children. In New England, schools and colleges were well-established. The newcomers to the Northwest demanded the same opportunities for their children that their old homes had to offer. As a result, two private girls’ schools were founded in Stevens Square-Loring Heights in its early years.
In September 1890, Stanley Hall opened at 10 East 17th Street. Girls from all over the Northwest attended the school and took courses in Domestic Science, Domestic Art, Public School Music, Public School Art, Dramatic Art, and Physical Training. Those who completed the two year program could enter as juniors in the state university system or as juniors in the women’s colleges of the East.
Graham Hall (1800-1804 First Avenue South), started out as part of the Minneapolis Classical School, located at 2524 Stevens Avenue, but then became its own private girls’ school and moved to 1800-1804 First Avenue South. The school offered a variety of courses, from art and theater to French. The school included a dormitory to house students from all over the region, enabling families from distant locations to send their daughters to prep school.
The girls who attended these schools came from families of substantial wealth. Ruth Gage-Colby, a student at Stanley Hall in 1915-1916, kept a record of her activities there. Her scrapbook photos show young women in fur coats and fashionable clothing, while numerous program bulletins from plays, orchestra concerts, and musical theater productions suggest an abundance of pocket money for entertainment. One set of photos connects her directly to Loring Heights, captioned "a call to Ridgewood". Surnames in the yearbooks such as Loring, Northrup, Crosby, and Jones link the students to prominent families in Minneapolis.
The existence of these schools in Stevens Square confirms prosperity in the neighborhood. It is unlikely that a private school for wealthy girls would be established in a questionable neighborhood. It is even less likely that wealthy families would send their daughters to a school located in a poor or even middle-income neighborhood. Just as the schools’ existence proved the presence of wealth, so, too would their eventual relocation give clues to changes in the neighborhood.
As already mentioned, the milling industries drew a multitude of people to Minneapolis. The wheat supplied by farmers from throughout the Northwest helped produce flour that placed Minneapolis on the map in the milling business. Meanwhile, the dense forests of northern Minnesota, combined with long chain of lakes, streams, and rivers, provided ideal conditions for the logging and paper milling industries. Many millers and lumbermen lived in Loring Heights.
James G. Wallace made a career for himself in the lumber industry. He came to Minneapolis in 1883, and was employed by the Carpenter Brothers Sash and Door Company. He eventually became a partner in the Wallace-Ballard Lumber Company. His brother, Thomas, lived with him at 124 Groveland Avenue, and became secretary and treasurer of the Farmers and Mechanics Bank.
George W. Van Dusen also made his home in Loring Heights. He started out in central Wisconsin as a grain dealer and invented a "flat-house"-- a warehouse without machinery. He also invented a "belt and cup" device that enabled grain to be elevated by horse power. He owned and operated one of the first grain elevators in the Northwest. He moved to Minneapolis in 1887, alert to the opportunities that the Twin Cities held in the grain trade.
His house at 1900 Vine Place (today’s La Salle Avenue) was built in 1892 by the architectural firm of Orff and Joralemon, noted for their romantic and well-detailed residential designs. The Van Dusen mansion is Richardsonian Romanesque Chateausesque in style which includes rusticated stone, roundhead archways, and deep-set windows. The house included several amenities, including a servant call system in each room of the house, indoor plumbing, combination gas and electric lighting, and fireproofed walls and ceilings (made entirely of masonry).
George Crocker lived just down the road at 201 Ridgewood Avenue. Crocker, a native of Maine, involved himself in milling in Minneapolis immediately upon his arrival in 1855. He bought interest in the City Mill in 1855, then sold it in 1865 in order to build the Arctic Mill, which produced 300 barrels of flour a day. He sold out in 1870 and bought interest in the Minneapolis Mill. He also managed and/or was senior partner in Perkins, Crocker and Tomlinson; Crocker, Tomlinson and Company; Gardner, Pillsbury and Crocker; Pillsbury, Crocker and Fiske; and Crocker, Fiske, and Company. His son William followed in his footsteps in the milling business.
Millers such as Van Dusen, Wallace, and Crocker relied on bankers to keep their businesses running smoothly. Minneapolis served as a financial center not only for the local millers, but also for farmers, traders, and business professionals from out-state Minnesota, and as far away as Montana. Financial transactions multiplied exponentially as Minneapolis grew and the Northwest developed into a milling center. The amount of bank clearances in Minneapolis was $3,000,000 in 1890, and by 1907, the amount reached $1,000,000,000.
Loring Heights was home to several bankers, including Vader H. Van Slyke (216 Ridgewood Avenue). Born in Northfield, Minnesota, Van Slyke obtained his education from St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges. He trained as a banker under his father in Benson, Minnesota, before moving to Minneapolis, where he became an agent for the Union Central Life Insurance Company. He founded and was president of the Metropolitan National Bank (2nd Avenue South and 6th Street) in 1907 and became the chairman of the board in 1917. He resigned as chairman in 1918 and founded the Holland Investment Company (519 Metropolitan Bank Building). He spent 41 years as director of the Minneapolis Savings and Loan Association, and served over 40 years as a trustee of the Episcopal Diocese. Van Slyke’s multi-faceted life is typical of early residents. Many individuals in Loring Heights maintained business interests in several areas, served on a variety of boards, and experimented in numerous ventures.
One of the quickest, albeit riskiest, methods to make money in Minneapolis was through real estate speculation. Many men tried their luck in real estate and many made money. James Franklin Conklin (434 Ridgewood Avenue) was one of these men. Born in Newburgh, New York in 1852, Conklin operated a wholesale grocery business in Jacksonville, Florida from 1876-1879 before moving to Minneapolis in 1880. He managed both the Academy of Music music theater (lower Nicollet Avenue) and the Grand Opera House in downtown Minneapolis and served as secretary and general manager of the Arcade Investment Company. In 1893, he began dabbling in real estate and formed J. F. Conklin and Company, which later became the real estate firm of Conklin, Zonne and Company. He paid for the installation of the first electric curb lamps in Minneapolis, in front of the Syndicate Building in 1899, former site of the Grand Opera House.
The money earned by the men of Loring Heights did not necessarily come easily. Frank W. Nevens, like Conklin and Van Slyke, used innovation and flexibility to his advantage. Nevens first arrived in Minneapolis in November 1873. With C. W. Dexter, he founded and operated the Minneapolis Ice Company in 1874. The two operated out of Nevens’ home at 422 South 6th Street, cutting ice on the Mississippi River and in Loring Park. Nevens married in 1876. A few weeks later, he fell ill with appendicitis. Not expecting to live, he sold his ice business to provide money for his family. He survived, but the medical costs depleted his finances. At age 50, he found himself starting all over again, founding his own laundry business in 1899. Initially supported by his friends’ money, Nevens Company served the downtown area from its location at 1201 Marquette Avenue for a number of years, and provided the financial stability that Nevens sought. Meanwhile, he also experimented with inventions and developed several implements still used today, including electric flat irons and electrical heating elements for small appliances. He designed and displayed an electric oven at the 1890 Minneapolis Exposition. Nevens lived at 401 Ridgewood Avenue until his death in 1931.
Clearly, Stevens Square-Loring Heights contained a substantial amount of wealth, prosperity, and talent in its infancy. However, the neighborhood was not unique; rather, it resembled the neighborhoods bordering it on the south and west. Just as men like Van Dusen, Wallace, Conklin, and Nevens lived in Loring Heights, other prominent individuals such as millers William D. Washburn, Charles Pillsbury, and William H. Dunwoody, along with street railway president Thomas Lowry lived directly south or west of the neighborhood. By the time of Richard J. Mendenhall’s death in 1906, these areas combined to form some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Minneapolis.
1907-1928 Growing Pains
After the Mendenhall’s death in 1906, Mendenhall and Hill’s heirs decided to sell their property holdings in and around Stevens Square. To help increase the value and the attractiveness of their lands, they teamed up with David P. Jones, successful real estate broker and future Minneapolis Mayor, and approached the City Park Board with the idea of creating a park in the neighborhood. The Park Board Commission bought the land from Hill’s heirs in 1907 for $41,600. The result was a 2.48 acre park on the site of the most uneven land in Stevens Square, land that would be difficult to develop into housing. Stevens Avenue, Second Avenue, East 18th Street, and East 19th Street formed the boundaries of the park. In 1908 the Park Board named the park Stevens Square after Minneapolis’ founder, Colonel John P. Stevens.
Several elements including the park contributed to the building boom that followed in Stevens Square during the 1910s. First, Minneapolis thrived. The city had defeated Duluth in a duel over the commercial trade, confirming its dominance over the port city to the north. Meanwhile, Minneapolis had also established itself as the milling capital of the United States, if not the world. The labels of flour bags nationwide advertised the success of Minneapolis. Secondly, street railway lines in Stevens Square provided easy access for would-be residents to the downtown district. Cheap commuting fares and increased mileage of rails enabled a larger segment of the population to ride the street railway than before. Whereas only 987,000 paid passengers rode the rails in 1880 in Minneapolis, the number reached 87.4 million passengers by 1910.
Downtown employment opportunities augmented. Young native-born out-staters migrated to the city in search of jobs. Between 1910 and 1912, construction of apartment units in Minneapolis increased by 400 percent to accommodate the influx. To cut down on cost, architects and developers stuck to three-and-one-half story brick structures in order to stay within the limits of non-fireproof residential buildings. Only a few dwellings in Stevens Square-Loring Heights had fireproof walls or ceilings, one being the Van Dusen mansion. The apartment buildings generally contained 18-24 units and were similar to others built all around the city. City ordinances required builders to leave at least 10 feet of space at the end of lots, and at least 16 feet of space in areas that opened to a public alley. In maximizing the use of their land, developers built structures as close to one another as possible according to the restrictions. A densely packed group of three-and-one-half story brownstone apartments resulted. Few original buildings needed to be removed to make way for these apartment buildings, facilitating construction. In turn, in the following years, few efforts would be made to change the neighborhood, since the high density of buildings discouraged further redevelopment.
The first apartment building to face the park was the 41-unit apartment building known as Stevens Court. Built in 1912 at 128-132 East 18th Street, the building project launched a construction boom that resulted in six additional apartment buildings in 1913. Despite similarities in architecture and layout, six different developers were involved in the building of these structures.
The effects of World War I on the labor force and economy slowed building down until 1919, when seven new apartment buildings were built. Six of the new buildings belonged to developers Benjamin Paust and Joseph M. Baltuff. The Restricted Residential District laws prohibited apartment building in certain single family areas after 1913. These restrictions did not affect Stevens Square, and only added to the popularity of apartment development in the community. Developers built three more apartment buildings in 1923 and 1924, and the last apartment building in Stevens Square was erected in 1926, reaching the maximum level of development possible for the 12-block space.
The new apartments helped to accommodate returning war veterans who moved to Minneapolis. Most residents worked in department stores and other businesses downtown. Childless married couples and single men occupied many of the apartments at first, but by the late 1920s, single women occupied much of the area. Many single women came to the city in search of work and a different life than they had led in out-state Minnesota and other rural areas. The cities presented more employment opportunities and higher wages than the rural towns or countryside had to offer. Afraid these women would be led astray by "depraved persons who prey upon the unsuspicious and innocent," many organizations and city offices took upon themselves the responsibility of making sure these women were safely sheltered in the city. They posted notices in railroad depots throughout the state, warning women of possible dangers.
Aside from protection and support against the dangers of living alone in a strange place, these boarding houses and women’s centers provided affordable housing and the companionship of other women.
The Clara Doerr Center of the Woman’s Christian Association (1717 Second Avenue South) opened in October 1925 and offered a home to single women who came to Minneapolis and needed a place to live. Henry Doerr, husband of an active WCA member, sold the land at a discounted price to the Woman’s Christian Association, enabling the organization to build a brand new center for the first time since 1878. Doerr came to Minneapolis from Milwaukee in 1870. In 1873 he formed the tobacco firm of Winecke and Doerr. When Winecke died in 1901 Doerr became the full owner and manager of the firm. Henry Doerr also served as the vice-president of the Minneapolis Drug Company and director of the German-American Bank. The Minneapolis WCA named the center after his daughter, a social welfare advocate who died from cancer when she was a young woman.
Some women in the Stevens Square neighborhood worked at the Abbott Hospital, built on the northeast corner of East 18th Street in 1911. The hospital was designed by popular Twin Cities architect William Channing Whitney. Founded by Dr. Amos Wilson Abbott (1844 - 1927), the new building would determine the demographics of the neighborhood for years to come. Nurses and other medical professionals lived in the nearby apartment buildings which provided easy access to the hospital and the downtown area.
Although Abbott lived outside of Stevens Square-Loring Heights at 21 South 10th Street, his impact on the area is significant, and his contributions to Minneapolis, the Midwest, and the field of medicine are innumerable. Abbott was born on January 6, 1844, in India, where his parents were missionaries. At age four, Abbott returned with his parents to the United States. He remained there with his aunt who "was of the old New England type, very religious, stern, and unrelenting" when his parents returned to India three years later. He ran away at age twelve and worked a succession of jobs to support himself and pay for his education. He enrolled in Dartmouth College at the age of 15, but interrupted his education two years later to join the Union Army as a drummer boy. During the Civil War, Abbott was captured and taken to Libby Prison near New Orleans. He managed to escape from the prison with six others, nearly losing his life in the process.
After the war, Abbott worked in the Pay Department in Washington D. C. in order to pay for further education. He received his physician’s degree at the college of Physicians and Surgeons in New York and then interned at a "colored hospital" on Ellis Island. Afterward, he practiced in Delhi, New York where he met Helen Wright. Perceiving that Minneapolis needed medical practitioners, Abbott moved to the city in 1877. He married Wright in 1880.
In Minneapolis, Abbott opened and operated a small hospital for his patients at his residence at 613 Second Avenue South for about five years. He then closed the hospital and worked out of St. Barnabas Hospital (901 Sixth Avenue South), where he was chief of staff. He kept office at his new home on 10th Street and Harmon Place, and made frequent house calls by horseback, rain or shine, day or night. He had a well-equipped laboratory in his home where he and his assistant carried out routine work.
The Abbott Hospital opened on March 5, 1902, at 10-12 East 17th Street, a three-story building with the dining room, kitchen, and laundry in the basement. The nurses were housed on the third floor on one side with a well-equipped, good-sized laboratory and interne’s [sic ]room on the other. The first and second floors had rooms for ten patients. The operating-room was on the second floor...There was no elevator. The patients were wrapped in blankets and carried from the operating-room to their rooms by the doctors.
Later on, when more room was needed, 15 beds were added by moving the nurses to outside housing. Nurses’ residences existed at 1801 First Avenue South and 1714 Stevens Avenue South.
The first patient operated on in the hospital died, but no more deaths occurred there for almost two and a half years. The average mortality rate for the hospital was only one per year and doctors performed 112 operations in the first year alone, 70 of which were major procedures. Such accomplishments did not go unrecognized by others. Abbott was elected and served as President of the Hennepin County Medical Society, the Minnesota State Medical Society, the Academy of Medicine, the Pathological Society, and the Western Surgical Association. In addition, he was the first delegate to the first House of Delegates for the American Medical Association. He also cofounded the Minnesota Pathological Society and taught anatomy at the St. Paul Medical College. In 1881, he founded the Minnesota College Hospital.
Abbott’s friends and clientele included the social elite in the area, including milling magnate William H. Dunwoody and family. In an expression of gratitude for attending to his wife Kate, Dunwoody donated money for a new hospital building. Construction began in 1910, and the Dunwoody Building opened on August 28, 1911.
There were twenty-one private rooms and eight ward beds. The twelve student nurses were housed on the third floor. The one graduate nurse in charge was housed in the room on the first floor. The laundry and kitchens were well equipped for the size of the hospital; though there was no mechanical equipment in the kitchen, the arrangement was convenient, and work was easily carried on. There were one operating room with sterilizing-room, doctors dressing-room, cystoscopy room, and a good-sized laboratory opposite.
The wing served primarily as a children’s hospital. Dunwoody died in 1914, leaving the Hospital under the administration of Westminister Presbyterian Church, with an endowment of $100,000, recommending that "the said Trustees continue Dr. Abbott as the head of said hospital as long as in their judgment he shall be able to perform the said duties pertaining to that position." Abbott served as chairman of the Executive Staff of the hospital for the remainder of his life. The hospital expanded further in 1920 to include the Janney Pavilion, donated by Mr. and Mrs. T. B. Janney. The wing served primarily as a children’s hospital. Abbott Hospital more than doubled its original size due to these donations.
While Abbott Hospital grew and building activity abounded in Stevens Square businesses popped up in the neighborhood as well. In 1912, a sign-making and carpentry shop at 1901-1903 Nicollet Avenue, and a Moving Pictures House at 1706 Fourth Avenue South were the only businesses in the neighborhood. By 1929, a wholesale candy and tobacco shop appeared on Lyndale Avenue, a restaurant rested on the corner of Nicollet and Franklin Avenues, and a large Walgreen’s store had arrived on Nicollet Avenue. The majority of Loring Heights, however, remained populated with wealthy, influential families, particularly from the medical, milling, law, and street railway professions.
Several doctors lived in the Loring Heights neighborhood. At least three hospitals of substantial size were located in and around the Stevens Square-Loring Heights neighborhood: Abbott Hospital and Janney’s Children’s Hospital (1717 First Avenue South), St. Barnabas Hospital (901 South 6th Street), and Hillcrest Hospital (Corner of Franklin and Harriet Avenues). Living in Loring Heights enabled doctors to make frequent visits to their patients and emergency calls to these hospitals without traveling long distances. Like Amos Wilson Abbott, the doctors in Loring Heights each had talents which gave them prestigious positions in the medical field.
William A. Jones, a nationally-known neurologist and physician, grew up in St. Peter, Minnesota, and became a physician for the State Hospital for the Insane there. He later moved to Minneapolis and lived at 307 Ridgewood Avenue. He edited the Journal Lancet, a prominent medical journal of the region, and served as President of the Minnesota State Board of Health from 1903-1917. He practiced medicine until one month before his death in 1931.
Another doctor of note in the Loring Heights area was Dr. Franklin R. Wright (604 Ridgewood), a native of Canton, Illinois. He operated as house surgeon at St. Barnabas hospital and practiced general medicine for five years, after which he specialized in dermatology and genito-urinary diseases. He instructed at the University of Minnesota for 41 years before retiring in 1936. Colleagues regarded him as an authority in the field of urology, and honored him in May 1940 with the establishment of a Franklin R. Wright lectureship at the University of Minnesota.
Not all the doctors in Loring Heights were men. Dr. Fannie Anderson was a woman ahead of her time. Remembered as the person responsible for bringing psychiatry to Minneapolis, Anderson studied suggestive therapy, a precursor to modern psychiatry, in Europe before coming to Minneapolis around 1900. At that time many of the medical profession considered her a quack and did not want to have anything to do with her. Local surgeon Dr. Warren J. Little befriended her and allowed her to practice out of Hillcrest Hospital (Franklin and Harriet Avenues). Soon thereafter, other doctors started consulting her. She also operated an office out of the Masonic Temple, (528 Hennepin Avenue).
According to letters received by her family after her death, Dr. Anderson touched the lives of many people in the Twin Cities, namely "the tense, the unhappy, the nervous, the unsure; specifically, prominent clergymen, professors, and doctors themselves, lonely old maids, quarreling married couples." She gained their respect and patronage despite her lack of a medical degree.
Her talents were not limited to psychiatric medicine and teaching. For awhile, she traveled as a concert violinist. While traveling she met her future husband, Olaf, and they lived in Moorehead, Minnesota before heading to Europe to study. While in Minnesota, they adopted two daughters.
After retiring in 1943, she continued to help people. She adorned her home on Pillsbury Avenue with several couches and chairs in which people reclined and, supposedly, she never charged for her services after she retired. She gave piano and voice lessons. She provided financial support to a number of students who could not afford college expenses. According to her daughter, Mrs. Winthrop Wadsworth, "her house and life were surrounded by young people. Folks her own age were too busy moaning about aches and pains." Anderson, in the meantime, continued to challenge the restrictions placed on her age. She drove until she was 85 years old, at which time she had difficulty renewing her license. Not letting that stop her, she went to the licensing station in St. Paul and took the road test. She refused to do a U-turn on University Avenue, saying it was illegal, and the examiner passed her. That accomplished, she gave up driving.
Fannie Anderson did not fit the conventional mold of the old elite of Minneapolis. As noted, peers questioned the respectability of her occupation. While her neighbors came to Minneapolis from New England, she grew up in Montana. More importantly, she did not come from a wealthy background. However, she was only one of several of the early residents in Loring Heights who were new to the wealthy class, people of meager backgrounds who became successful within their own lifetimes, not through family inheritance. Loring Heights witnessed the mixing of the old money with the new, and the unconventional with the conventional.
While doctors abounded in Stevens Square-Loring Heights, other professions remained well-represented as well. Two men involved in Minneapolis transportation lived in the Loring Heights community. Calvin G. Goodrich (1815 Vine Place) was born on March 12, 1856, in Oxford, Ohio. His father, Dr. Calvin G. Goodrich moved the family to Minneapolis when he was 12. Dr. Calvin G. Goodrich helped organize the Northwestern National Bank and was one of the directors of the Lakewood Cemetery Association. Meanwhile, Goodrich, Jr. studied at the University of Minnesota and, in 1886, became the representative of a grain commission firm. Goodrich played a key role in the development of the Minneapolis Street Railway Company system, which later became part of the Twin City Rapid Transit Company. He served as bookkeeper, superintendent, general manager, vice-president and, after Thomas Lowry’s death in 1909, the president of the company. In addition, Goodrich succeeded his father as director of the Lakewood Cemetery Association and the Northwestern National Bank.
Ironically, another Ohio native who battled the Minneapolis Street Railway Company per request of the city lived just blocks away from Goodrich. Frank C. Brooks (432 Ridgewood) was born in Cuyahoga County, Ohio and attended law school in Madison, Wisconsin. After his admission to the bar in 1878, he practiced law in Eau Claire, Wisconsin for three years. He came to Minneapolis in 1884 and formed the Brooks and Hendrix law firm with his former law partner, Fred N. Hendrix. In 1894 city officials asked Brooks to act as special counsel in conducting litigation against the Minneapolis Street Railway Company. The company had, for some time, upheld their claim that the city had no right to demand that free transfers be carried on all railway lines. At the time of litigation, the company only offered transfers at certain locations along the various routes, so people had to ride out of their way in order to obtain a transfer ticket. The case went to court before Seagrave Smith, and the judge ruled in favor of the city. From that time onward, the Street Railway Company offered free transfer tickets on all cars. This huge win for the city influenced elections for judgeship and Brooks was elected to the bench in 1898. He presided on the bench for 11 years and then left voluntarily in 1909. He practiced law in the Brooks and Jamison law firm until his death in 1917.
While Brooks counseled against the street railway company, Frank D. Larrabee (119 Groveland) served as lawyer and counsel for the railroads. Born in Parish, New York in 1856, Larrabee came to Minneapolis as associate counsel for the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad Company, and then became counsel for the Soo Line. He left the railroad in 1890 to run his own general practice until his retirement in 1931.
Loring Heights still remained a popular place for milling people during this period, too. Benjamin S. Bull, Jr. (300 Ridgewood Avenue) represented part of the great milling era. He was born in Minneapolis in 1869, the son of Benjamin S. Bull, Sr., a real estate dealer. In 1889 Bull, Jr. became a bank clerk and was employed by Union National, First National, and Northwest National Banks. In 1895, he became an accountant for the prosperous Washburn-Crosby Company. He became the directorate of the company in 1910, secretary in 1914, and then treasurer in 1919. He also served as the treasurer of the St. Anthony Elevator Company, Royal Milling Company, Kulispell Flour Mill Company, and the Rocky Mountain Elevator Company.
As bankers balanced books and millers built businesess, architects designed and built homes. Two prominent Twin Cities architects made their homes in the neighborhood, Edwin H. Hewitt (126 East Franklin Avenue) and Arthur B. Chamberlin (435 Ridgewood). Hewitt was born and raised in Red Wing, Minnesota and studied architecture at the University of Minnesota, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and L’école des Beaux Arts à Paris (School of Fine Arts in Paris). He came back to Minnesota and formed the architectural firm of Hewitt and Brown in 1911, whose largest commission was the Bell Telephone Building (1931) in Minneapolis.
Some of Hewitt’s fine architecture still exists today. His works include St. Mark’s Cathedral (519 Oak Grove Street), Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church (511 Groveland Avenue), Northwestern Life Insurance building, Fort Snelling chapel, Minneapolis School of Fine Arts, the YWCA building, the Charles S. Pillsbury residence, and the George C. Christian residence. Hewitt was strongly influenced by classic styles, using Gothic features in his churches and simple, classic lines for other buildings.
Arthur Bishop Chamberlin (435 Ridgewood) was born in Milwaukee in 1865. He came to Minneapolis in 1882 to complete his education at the University of Minnesota. Upon graduation, he joined a local architectural office, and in 1898, he and another architect formed the architectural firm of Bertrand and Chamberlin.
Bertrand and Chamberlin designed and built several impressive structures in Minneapolis, including the Minneapolis Athletic Club, the Automobile Club, Chamber of Commerce, Minneapolis General Electric Company, Asbury Hospital, Minnesota Masonic Home, the old Minneapolis auditorium, and the Builders Exchange Building. Chamberlin also designed the house of banker and grain merchant Samuel Arthur Harris, at the corner of Franklin and La Salle Avenues. Like Hewitt, Chamberlin emphasized clean, simple lines in his designs.
Some of the most impressive structures in and around the Stevens Square Loring Heights neighborhood are the area churches. The wealthy residents of Minneapolis invested large sums of money into their churches. Many residents attended Westminister Presbyterian Church, Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church, and Plymouth Congregational Church at their locations in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. For example, Stanley Avery (432 Ridgewood) served as organist and choirmaster and Harry W. Rubins (224 Ridgewood) did elaborate wood carvings for St. Marks Episcopal Church (Cathedral). William H. Dunwoody left Abbott Hospital to the trustees of Westminister Presbyterian Church, one of whom was lumberman George H. Rogers (124 Groveland). Meanwhile, Reverend John E. Bushnell (1817 La Salle) acted as minister for the same church. Prominent members of Plymouth Congregational Church included real estate dealer and Minneapolis Mayor David P. Jones (234 Ridgewood) and banker Henry S. Kingman (331 Ridgewood).
However, as the population grew and the downtown business district expanded, the church buildings became too small, and the land they occupied escalated in value. Unable to resist the profits to be made by selling their land, many congregations opted to sell and moved their churches out of the downtown area, building larger structures closer to their residential homes in the southern neighborhoods. In 1895, Westminister Presbyterian Church sold its old church at Seventh and Nicollet and built a much larger building at Twelfth and Nicollet. Hennepin Avenue United Methodist moved to Hewitt’s newly designed structure at 511 Groveland Avenue in 1910. In October 1906, the Plymouth Congregational Church’s congregation decided by unanimous vote to sell its downtown church property and move to a location further south. In 1907 it moved from its location at Eighth and Nicollet downtown to 1900 Nicollet Avenue, in Stevens Square-Loring Heights. The new church was christened March 14, 1909 when David P. Jones received the keys to the church, while serving as President of the Plymouth Society.
Churches served dual roles as places of worship and houses of charity in a time when public welfare programs were scarce. Philanthropy was commonplace among the wealthy in the Stevens Square-Loring Heights area, and many individuals used their churches as a resource to serve the poor, homeless, and disabled. Using their own neighborhoods as "home base", charitable organizations reached out to the poorer areas of Minneapolis, including North Minneapolis and the Cedar-Riverside area. The Plymouth Congregational Church’s archives give a glimpse of the services provided by local churches.
Ladies’ Aid Societies at Plymouth had up to 75 members at a time, all of whom were active in various facets of the organization. These women gathered weekly at each other’s homes to sew clothing for local charities, raise money for various functions, and to support the war effort of World War I. The Red Cross Unit at Plymouth Congregational Church recorded the number of garments, bandages, and blankets they were able to contribute. In 1917, the Red Cross Unit met twice a week over the last eight months of the year, and contributed almost 10,000 articles for the war effort, from hospital garments to gauze dressings. The average attendance at the meetings was 20 women during the summer months and 35 during the fall.
Plymouth Congregational Church served the community in other capacities as well. The church sponsored the first Boy Scout Troop in the Minneapolis area. Most of the boys came from the surrounding neighborhood. They were selected as the Outstanding Troop of the area in 1923. As a reward they greeted the motorcade of the visiting Marshall Foch. In a ceremony honoring the World War I hero the boys congratulated him and presented a statuette.
Plymouth Church has other firsts to its name. Plymouth opened the Minneapolis Bethel Sunday School at Second Street and Third Avenue South in 1879. It offered the first free kindergarten class in Minneapolis there the following year. The school eventually included a kindergarten, day nursery, sewing classes for girls, industrial activities for women, a kitchen garden, and recreational programs for all ages.
Plymouth Congregational Church started the Newsboys’ Club in 1890. Concerned church members brought the newsboys, many of whom were very poor and/or homeless, to Mrs. Farr’s store basement in the Syndicate building where they received a free lunch and religious instruction. Eventually, the newspaper companies themselves took over the program.
The location of a Red Cross Sanitarium at 1812 First Avenue South, a Woman’s Christian Association Travelers’ Aid Home at 1914 Stevens Avenue, and the Clara Doerr Center at 1717 Second Avenue South, suggest further charity in the community. Indeed, individuals connected to these programs and other charity organizations in Minneapolis lived in Loring Heights. Henry S. Kingman (331 Ridgewood) acted as the Red Cross War Fund Chairman. George H. Rogers (124 Groveland) served as board member and founded the Rogers Craft Shop in the Minneapolis YMCA, and Arthur Bishop Chamberlin designed the building and was active in the Shrine Hospital for Crippled Children.
One can see, then, that the Loring Heights community witnessed little change during Stevens Square’s development. However, the relocation of Stanley Hall several blocks south to 2118 Pleasant Avenue, and the relocation of Graham Hall south to the Washburn-Fair Oaks neighborhood, along with the construction of a few apartment buildings on Loring Heights’ northern edge prophesied future changes in the Loring Heights community.
1929 - 1974 Reunification
Even before the stock market crash in 1929, the prosperous ‘20s were giving way to troubled times. Agriculture was no longer as steady as it had once been; businessmen from Minneapolis attempted to finance farmers, but the optimism of the early ‘20s quickly diminished. Tariff and freight rates changes, shifts in wheat-growing patterns, and the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 led to the downfall of Minneapolis milling. In 1930, Minneapolis lost its position as the nation’s premier milling city to Buffalo, New York. Flour production had decreased from 18,541,650 barrels in 1916 to 10,797,194 barrels by 1930.
Minneapolis was hit hard by the Depression. The population growth rate decreased from 22 percent in the ‘20s to only 6 percent in the ‘30s, ending new construction in the Stevens Square area and elsewhere in the city. Thousands of people found themselves unable to pay bills, put food on the table, or make house payments. The apartment buildings continued to attract residents, however, and the apartments maintained a high level of occupancy. City directories show few vacancies in the numerous apartment buildings in Stevens Square.
In fact, apartments became one of the most feasible options for housing during the Depression. People seeking a place to live near the downtown area could better afford apartments than larger dwellings. Transportation was available, and family-run businesses in the area provided the essentials for apartment dwellers. The apartments provided housing for the nurses and hospital employees of Abbott Hospital. Nurses occupied apartments on La Salle Avenue in Loring Heights, as well as the apartments in Stevens Square. The 1935 City Directory shows ten nurses residing in the 1800 block of Stevens Avenue alone, a block that didn’t even have designated nurses’ housing. The Clara Doerr Center and Lindley Hall still housed single women as well. The occupancy rates varied a lot in these places, however, ranging from five to thirty vacancies within a few months of each other. The surrounding apartment buildings lowered their rent prices in order to keep occupancy high. Committee members at the Clara Doerr Center reported on several occasions that young women left the center to live in these apartment buildings.
The apartment buildings also drew people because of their architecture. Influenced by the negative reaction to apartment buildings in New York City, developers did their best to make apartment living an attractive option, naming the buildings and using details from Collegiate Gothic and Renaissance Revival architectural styles. Symmetrical form and consistency in height gave the illusion of conformity in the neighborhood, but variation in decorative trim, windows, and cornices added elements of eccentricity to each apartment building. Most of the buildings had distinguished names, reflecting Anglo-European influence, such as the Gladstone, Blackstone, and Castleton.
Long-time Stevens Square resident Jeanne Krueger was born after the depression had ended, but remembers her parents’ tales about living in the neighborhood during the 1930s. Krueger’s father worked for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression and made $46.00 every two weeks. According to Krueger, the family never lived better than at that time. In an interview with Burt Berlowe, Krueger describes living in cold-water flats, where hot water had to be cooked on the stove. She also describes Fourth Avenue, an entertainment district which catered to Stevens Square, Phillips, and Elliot Park communities.
There were a lot of beer joints along Fourth Avenue, as many as four in one block. That street was mostly commercial with only a few residences. There were two beer joints between 19th and Franklin called Dee’s and Eddy’s. Between 18th and 19th, there was one called the Bottle House. From 18th to 17th, you had the Scenic, the Tap Room, Red’s, the Jailhouse, and the Bop-Inn. They were mostly neighborhood hangouts where everybody knew each other and with few problems. Mostly, people would go to them on weekend nights for pleasure. Some had music and dancing. It was a cheap form of entertainment. My family went there regularly.
While beer joints and clubs were viewed as acceptable in working- and lower-class neighborhoods, they were not to be found near the wealthy Loring Heights community. Nicollet Avenue maintained a shopping atmosphere, with several furniture stores, small grocery stores, drug stores, and other small family businesses, along with dressmakers, beauty and barber shops, and restaurants. These businesses catered to the apartment dwellers and to the families in Loring Heights.
The segregation of Stevens Square and Loring Heights was not complete, however, and Loring Heights was slowly reuniting with its twin. The Great Depression made it difficult for residents to afford to keep both a home in the city and homes further out from the metropolitan area. Many residents sold their downtown area homes and maintained a more peaceful existence in their summer vacation homes on Lake Minnetonka, White Bear Lake, or other outlying areas. The Depression and expansion of downtown created a slow migration of the wealthy further south and out of the city. Arthur B. Chamberlin moved to 520 West 22nd Street, Edwin H. Hewitt moved to Excelsior, and Franklin R. Wright moved to 2623 Irving Avenue South.
With automobiles, living further from the downtown district became a more attractive and convenient option than it used to be. Between 1912 and 1914, the number of automobiles registered in Minnesota was 42,000. By 1934, the city of Minneapolis had 80,000 automobiles by itself. People readily mortgaged their homes in order to buy their own Model T Ford. Approximately 30 passenger automobiles belonged to Loring Heights residents in 1908. In 1934, residents owned more than 250 automobiles.
Much of the success in automobile sales goes to Henry Ford, who was able to reduce the cost of his Model T while increasing the wages of his employees. In 1914, Ford introduced a moving assembly line, which increased his output of cars per day to nine thousand (one every ten seconds). Ford recognized that boredom and monotony concerned his workers, and to compensate, he raised their wages, effectively keeping his work force stable while increasing overall productivity.
In urban communities, automobiles became highly favored over horses. According to Kenneth T. Jackson in Crabgrass Frontier (1985),"the private car was initially regarded as the very salvation of the city, a clean and efficient alternative to the old-fashioned, manure-befouled, odoriferous, space-intensive horse. On the basis of common good, many local governments applied general revenues to easing the way for the motorcar." Just as the street railway companies had made the streets thoroughfares for commuting traffic in the late nineteenth century, twentieth century neighborhood streets became paved, concrete pathways for the primary purpose of vehicular traffic.
While the improvements in roads and the popularity of the automobile drew people to homes outside of the city, the noise of increased traffic discourage people from staying in the Loring Heights area. The large residences split into duplexes and boarding houses, and the era of single family residences in Loring Heights came to an end. In 1930, five houses had been converted to duplexes. By 1941, nine houses reported multible boarders. In regards to Loring Heights, Calvin F. Schmid’s Social Saga of Two Cities (1937) states,
On one hand is to be found a class of fine old gentility who have lost their money or who, for sentimental reasons of association and attachment, dislike to move out; also numerous respectable middle-aged childless couples who wish to reside close to the central business district. On the other hand, there are many and various elements necessitating frequent raids by the "morals squad" or other agencies of the police department. Such is the Loring Park area--this intriguing little district just bordering upon the fringe of the "beau monde".
Some of the wealthy did remain in Loring Heights, most of whom had lived there for a long time already. Frank W. Nevens, Fannie Anderson, Mabel Bull (widow of Charles S. Bull), and David G. Jones (son of David P. Jones) all remained in Loring Heights throughout the depression. However, they were the minority. In 1948, the Minneapolis City Planning Committee created a comprehensive zoning plan for the city. In the plans, the center of Loring Heights remained primarily residential, but the surrounding edges had been designated for multi-unit dwellings. Several apartment buildings and apartment hotels already existed on the north and southwest ends of the neighborhood at this time, including Irving Apartments (522 Ridgewood), Ridgewood Court (601 Ridgewood), Fairmont Apartments (608-610 Ridgewood), and Twin Courts (611 Ridgewood). Stevens Square had changed in the early 1900s, but now Loring Heights was changing, and its demographic profile came to more closely resemble that of Stevens Square.
The relocation and disappearance of the elite from Loring Heights affected some of the neighborhood institutions as well. By the 1940s Plymouth Congregational Church was once again surrounded by businesses and had become a "downtown" church. However, instead of moving again, the church remained at its present location. Congregational families from the church’s early days continued to attend, commuting from their suburban homes every Sunday. As the congregation grew, it acquired more land for parking and expanded the building. On April 8, 1948 construction of a new educational wing and chapel began. Workers completed construction on April 28, 1949. In 1953 the church’s sanctuary was overhauled, remodeled, and then reconsecrated
According to Lois Thompson, a member at Plymouth since 1949, most of the worshippers come from the suburbs now, whereas they originally came from the Loring Park neighborhood and downtown. The Plymouth Women’s Organization is not as active as it used to be, either. Many of the more zealous members died or moved away, and many women today do not have the luxury of time to devote to such events. Careers, family, and other commitments have taken the place of Ladies’ Aid Societies.
The end of the Depression in the 1940s only expedited the move to the suburbs. Fueled by optimism and a thriving post-war economy, white flight to the suburbs continued. Attracted to spacious back yards, modern housing, and newer schools, city residents migrated outward to suburban developments. The Bloomington township grew from 3,647 people in 1940 to 81,970 by 1970.
Businesses, complaining of congestion and high costs of both property and taxes downtown, followed their owners out to the suburbs, taking jobs with them. Between 1946 and 1970, over 400 business firms left the central cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and relocated to the suburbs. By 1963, half of the industrial employment in the United States was based in the suburbs, and by 1981, that figure increased to two-thirds. The relocation of businesses and residents to the suburbs affected the downtown economy drastically. Many people who remained in the downtown residential districts did not have the financial means to move or were physically dependent on the public transportation system.
This decline of the economy in and around downtown brought other problems. Drugs, alcohol, and prostitution became more pervasive in Minneapolis neighborhoods, including Stevens Square, and the crime rate increased. Resident Virginia L. Heureux (20 Groveland) explains, "When I moved here, every vice you could think of was going on in and out of this building." Residential structures in the Loring Heights area continued to decline due to age and neglect. Some houses converted into businesses. The Semple House became a funeral home and then the Franklin National Bank, before being purchased in 1996 by African American Family Services. The George W. Van Dusen mansion served as the Institute of Medical Technology from 1952-1970, and then the Horst School, where many of the Aveda hair care and beauty products were developed.
Thus, by the end of the 1940s, few, if any remnants of the wealthy elite in Loring Heights remained. Aside from structural differences, Loring Heights had assimilated with Stevens Square. Once again, the two communities were recognizable as twins.
Meanwhile, the metropolitan area desperately needed freeways to alleviate the traffic congestion caused by commuters from Bloomington and other suburbs. Auto registration had increased 58% between 1947 and 1950, and roadways were not wide enough to disperse the traffic. A 24-hour vehicle count in South Minneapolis north-south streets counted anywhere from 7,000 to 20,000 motor vehicles on each north-south street ranging from La Salle Avenue to Chicago Avenue. Franklin Avenue’s results were not much better.
In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Interstate Highway Act, giving four reasons for the new law: current highways were unsafe, poor roads created high business costs in transportation, traffic was too congested, and "in case of atomic attack on our key cities, the road net must permit quick evacuation of target areas." Road construction projects ensued all across the nation. Minnesota already had money coming from the 1944 Federal Aid Highway Act, which promised Minnesota $12,400,000 a year for three years to build urban highways and secondary rural roads once World War II concluded. The state, anticipating additional funds, devised a plan for an interstate system by 1959, based on data collected since the 1940s.
The traffic situation in south Minneapolis proved to be the most critical, and became the first stage of interstate construction. Engineers planned the freeways according to predictions about future traffic flow and survey responses from the public. They drew "desire lines" to show where traffic was heaviest and where drivers thought the best route would be. When asked, drivers doubted they would habitually add more than 20 to 25 percent to their mileage in order to use a freeway, unless they could save significant amounts of time by doing so. Therefore, engineers and planners stuck as close to desire-line concentrations as they could.
The original plans for 35W ran north between Stevens and Second Avenues. However, such a path promised to be costly in terms of apartment acquisition, and would have eliminated Stevens Square and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. The City secured a re-alignment, and Interstate 35W instead carved a boundary between Stevens Square and Phillips to the East. Meanwhile, construction of Interstate 94 in the area effectively cut Loring Heights off from the rest of Loring Park, creating the northern boundary of Stevens Square-Loring Heights. Heavily-traveled Franklin and Lyndale Avenues marked the other boundaries of the community, creating the borders of Stevens Square-Loring Heights.
. The fraternal twins of Stevens Square and Loring Heights had shared the same characteristics when they were first born. As shown above, over the next several decades distinctions between socio-economic levels distinguished Stevens Square from Loring Heights, allowing Stevens Square’s development into an apartment district and keeping Loring Heights as a wealthy neighborhood of single-family dwellings. Eventually, however, urban growth and demands for housing did not discriminate between these old lines. They affected every community in and around the downtown area, from the wealthy Loring Heights, Washburn-Fair Oaks and Lowry Hill to the more modest Stevens Square. By the late 1940s, Loring Heights had caught up to its twin, and once again the neighborhoods shared the same traits. When the City officially designated Stevens Square-Loring Heights and its present boundaries as a neighborhood in 1974, making it eligible to receive federally funded Community Development Block Grants (CDBG funds), they merely gave a name to a homogeneous neighborhood that had long since existed.
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