The Wonderful Intangibles of Life in NE Minneapolis

Button with the words: Nordeast is Beautiful

As the packing boxes disappear, John and I are enjoying being the newbie residents in the nations top-rated arts district.  New neighborhoods are fun to explore, and, extravert that I am, having fresh faces  to meet and greet is an extra treat.

We’ve also discovered that we live on one of the most happening streets in the neighborhood: 13th Avenue.  After the night-life focus of the North Loop, it’s been refreshing to have a choice of quality indie coffee shops, gift shops stocked with unique local art, a cool little bookstore which sponsors concerts and discussions, a real barber shop and loads of massage and yoga  options.

But aside from the wealth of small, locally owned businesses that suit our lifestyle preferences, there are a wonderful handful of less tangible things that have already made us fall in love with Nordeast.

1. Mature Tress and Gardens: Living in a neighborhood with a large tree canopy, lush lawns and Peonies, Irises and Spirea

A bush of pink Peony flowers in a lawn.

June looks lovely in NE with a profusion of old fashioned flowering shurbs, like fragrant Peonies.

, (which that I haven’t seen since living in a small rural Wisconsin town as a kid) is so relaxing. We feel so lucky to walk amongst all this greenery on summer evenings.  We are equally amazed by the smells we experience now, like mowed lawns, upturned garden earth and damp foliage after it rains.

2. Children: Sitting at the window counter at Mave’s, a local coffee shop, I was mesmerized by the kids playing in the school playground across the street.  How long has it been since I lived in a neighborhood with residents younger than 20?  I’m not sure I can recall.  But I do know that being around kids makes me feel less serious about the day to day, and reminds me that there are things to laugh about and enjoy.

3. Friendly People: John and I were both floored by the open warmth and friendliness of our NE neighbors.  Every day we are greeted by almost every person we meet on the sidewalk, and easy conversations spring up between us.  This is something we had not experienced in prior neighborhoods. The baristas in our new coffee hang out inquired about our situation when they saw us return for the third time in one day.  When they learned they were feeding us because we couldn’t find our dishes, they kept progress notes one our unpacking and still ask how things are going.

4. A Sense of Community:  People, quite simply, seem to love living in NE and like living with each other. Community bulletin boards with classes, concerts and other events are managed by local store owners.  Anyone can contribute to them and share what’s happening with anyone who wishes to join in.  Folks also help without thought or hesitation.  When John’s Car2Go rental stalled in inconvenient location this week, he was surprised to find that someone seated on a nearby porch had joined him in pushing the car out of the street.  It’s not uncommon for people to offer to help you with your packages or offer a hand in other ways.  It feels like the best parts of Mayberry, and the little farming community a grew up in, rolled into an urban setting.

After only a few weeks, NE has worked its magic on us.  It’s going to be a wonderful, intangible, summer.

UD Moves to NE for a New Urban Experience

Artist's rendering of the new Grain Belt apartments, with the old brewery in the background.
Artist rendering of the Grain Belt apartments with the old brewery in the background.

UD welcomes a new apartment, new neighborhood and new NE Minneapolis!

After an enjoyable 18 months as North Loop residents, John and I will be moving on to our next urban living experience this coming week: Northeast Minneapolis.  The old Grain Belt brewery complex is beckoning us with the larger unit, more picturesque view and quieter, residential neighborhood experience that we’ve been craving.  One of the adventures of renting in an urban area with so much rental construction is having the option to live a slightly nomadic existence, trying out new neighborhoods and different types of apartment homes.

Last evening, we met friends for pizza and drinks at Psycho Suzie’s Motor Lodge, walked the neighborhood for a bit after and finally landed on the lush and lovely patio of Mojo Coffee Gallery in the California Building. (Delightful cup of cappuccino, by the way!)  Having lived in NE Minneapolis about 10 years ago, when it was first designated an “arts district” by the city, it was fun to reflect on the growth and changes in the neighborhood since then.

The northeast I knew 10 years ago was still populated by descendants of some the neighborhood’s original eastern European immigrants.  Churches were still sponsoring community events, in fact, I still have and use some of the hand-embroidered sack cloth towels I bought at a church bake sale, around the corner from the home I was living in at the time.  Art was just getting going in the neighborhood and Art-a-Whirl was starting to gain popularity.

What was awesome about living in the area back then was that there was some type of art gallery opening or event almost every weekend.  Attending these became a wonderful pastime to share with my daughter, who was 12 or 13 at the time.  Some of the galleries were located in spaces that had been long abandoned by industry, making them equally entertaining viewing, next to the art being featured.

Psycho Suzie’s was a much smaller prospect at that time. It was located in an old drive-in restaurant which is the present location of what I call Psycho Suzie’s II: Betty Danger’s.  Back then, the patio looked a lot like their present tiki bar, which feels like Gilligan’s Island, and the interior that always made me expect to meet Jack Lord in an episode of Hawaii 5-0. The bouncer, I remember fondly, as a tough but slight-of-build British biker gent, who, despite his diminutive size, kept everyone in line and managed an extremely tight parking lot. Like most people, I loved the blatant cheesiness of the whole thing, along with the amazing pizza the establishment still serves today.  The present Psycho Suzie’s location was a sports bar I frequented with friends, to munch fries over a beer and play an occasional game of pool.

It’s a new NE for me, and I’m very much looking forward to getting to know it, and my new neighbors.  UD welcomes your input on places to go and things to do in what has become the number one rated art’s district in the US!