Systems Science

South Minneapolis Boundaries, Revisited

Photo Courtesy of - Lake Nokomis and Lake Hiawatha in South Minneapolis

Photo Courtesy of – Lake Nokomis and Lake Hiawatha in South Minneapolis

In a previous article titled I got this, South Minneapolis, I made an argument for the cultural boundaries of South Minneapolis. I based my premise on two things. First, my own experiences as a baseball player travelling the city parks from little league through high school. And second, from the language espoused by adults and children alike from South Minneapolis. Both were a part of the fabric of my growth; and both deeply influenced the way I viewed not just South Minneapolis, but South Minneapolis compared to the other parts of the city.

But these artificial, and physical, boundaries made possible through culture only explain one part of the whole picture. This picture is much more complex and interactive than one realizes, or may only realize in hindsight.

Culturally, the boundary of South Minneapolis ranges from Lyndale Avenue in the central part of the city to the Mississippi river. In addition, Franklin avenue, just south of I-94, is South Minneapolis’ northern boundary whereas Crosstown, or highway 62, is the southern boundary of the area. But these are not the political boundaries. To view this another way, the city of Minneapolis does not recognize South Minneapolis as its own political entity, but does acknowledge it as one of the five primary neighborhoods in Minneapolis. In fact, South Minneapolis is a collection of a number of different neighborhoods and wards that reside solely in South Minneapolis and that overlap and intersect with other parts of the city.

For example, South Minneapolis is composed of

  1. Ward 2 and its neighborhoods: Cooper, Seward, and Longfellow
  2. Ward 6 and its neighborhoods: Cedar Riverside, Elliot Park, Phillips West, Seward, Steven’s Square, and Ventura Village
  3. Ward 8 and its neighborhoods: Bancroft, Bryant, Field, King Field, Lyndale, and Regina
  4. Ward 9 and its neighborhoods: Central, Corcoran, East Phillips, Midtown Phillips, Longfellow, and Powderhorn Park
  5. Ward 10 and its neighborhood: Whittier
  6. Ward 11 and its neighborhoods: Diamond Lake, Hale, Keewaydin, Northrop, Page,  Tangletown, Wenonah, and Windom, and
  7. Ward 12 and its neighborhoods: Ericsson, Hiawatha, Howe, Keewaydin, Minnehaha, Morris, and Standish.
Photo Courtesy of the City of Minneapolis

Photo Courtesy of the City of Minneapolis

This is where the boundaries of culture and political body diverge. This may seem trivial to some, but it is important to understand nonetheless. And there are a number of reasons for this importance. Two are mentioned here. First, is cultural. Although residents of Minneapolis are the residents of one city, South Minneapolis has its own distinct pride in its existence and culture. It is a quiet and tranquil place full of successful small businesses. Some of these businesses are neighborhood gems like A Baker’s Wife in the Standish neighborhood or Matt’s Bar in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood. But none of Minneapolis’ 9 Forbes 1000 companies reside in South Minneapolis. This economic success despite the lack of large corporate representation will be discussed in greater depth in future articles.

Second, is political. According to the above composition of the area, South Minneapolis has seven council members representing it in its respective parts. And in turn, each respective ward representative, from the southern part of the city, deals with the same challenges, similar challenges, or completely different challenges as the other ward members depending on the situation.

For example, the engineering health and maintenance and economic vitality of the Metro Transit Blue-Line not only affects the utility of the neighborhoods it travels through, but it also directly affects the decisions of three of the current council members: Council members Alondra Cano, Andrew Johnson, and Abdi Warsame of the 9th, 12th, and 6th Wards, respectively. In contrast, and whereas the Blue-Line affects the other wards and neighborhoods indirectly, each of the thirteen city council members have a part to play in the minimum wage discussions and outcomes, which directly affect the utility of all thirteen wards in Minneapolis.

There are two things that ought to be understood from this short article. First, the cultural boundaries of South Minneapolis are not the same as the political boundaries or the neighborhood boundaries of South Minneapolis. Second, and even within South Minneapolis, there are differences and similarities in cultural, economic, and political perspectives. The differences in culture may seem like a contradiction, but in fact it is a distinction between the subtleties of one neighborhood compared to another neighborhood, say Standish and Diamond Lake or Central and Morris. But overall, South Minneapolis definitely has its own personality and this is precisely the point.




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