Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nate's Auto Parts

                        1125 North Fifth Street- Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1972

When I was out and living on my own for the first time, one of my neighbors was Nate's Auto Parts. Nate's was actually run by Nate's son, Morrie. Nate was long deceased, Morrie was in his early sixties. Nate's was spread over a full city block with parts hidden behind fences, stacked on porches, and filling several old houses and a couple of commercial buildings. I'd see Morrie from time to time as he checked his stock or pulling a part or two, but usually he just sat in his office. I can't even imagine what the inside of those houses held, their yards were a wild mix of springs, axles, wheels and even a few more-or-less complete vehicles. All of it was very old. The houses Morrie used for storage had been built in the late 1800's, boom times, and once housed the mill workers and merchants and their families, people who were then building up Minneapolis and turning it into a center of international commerce. These "Painted Ladies," as the Victorian houses of that style were called, were nearly falling apart when I moved in the 'hood, but had been fine homes in their day. The picture below shows one of the houses on "Nate's" street circa 1900:

                        1101 North Fifth Street- Photo supplied by Henry Lee Griffith

Behind those houses was a creek, it had long ago been paved over but it still ran underground throughout North Minneapolis, only emerging near its outlet in the Mississippi River. Natural habitat preservation didn't receive much consideration in those times. There is talk from time to time of opening the creek again, but there is just too much industry lying literally on top of it.

Ultimately, in the early 1990's, the whole neighborhood was redeveloped and all the people living there as well as the entire stock of Nate's Auto Parts were relocated. All those old houses were torn down as well, finally erasing the last links to what had once been a vibrant community.

By Professor Batty


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