Monday, October 06, 2014

The Houses Across the Street

North Fifth Street, Minneapolis

While digging through the archives I came across this shot of a vintage '48 Chrysler. It was parked in front of the first place I lived when I moved out from home in 1971. The car, which was somewhat unusual to see on the street at the time, wasn't in the best of shape but the thing in the picture which really caught my eye was the house across the street, directly behind the car. I hadn't thought about it in years. We were renting a very small two bedroom house in what was zoned as a 'mixed-use' area, about a mile Northwest of the warehouse district of Minneapolis. There were several small businesses as well as a smattering of houses and apartments, vestiges of what was once a vibrant neighborhood. This portion of the city had been ignored by planners; it was assumed it would be taken by the Interstate 94 expansion and would have cost the city much more to condemn the houses (and did, very expensively, 20 years later) than to let them remain, still paying taxes.

We were young, thrilled to be on our own, but very nervous at living in such a marginal part of town. The house across the street was a duplex, with a middle-aged black couple living on top and three Mormon missionaries below. The missionaries never bothered us, I don't think they cared for my appearance (Charles Manson look-alike) and we never bothered them. The couple upstairs were quiet, except for Saturday nights when they would hold good-natured card parties. We didn't have a lot in common with them, either, I think the whole neighborhood (with one exception) operated with a live and let live philosophy.

The one exception, who lived down the block, thought that brandishing a BB gun shaped like an M-16 would intimidate his neighbors who were warming their car in the dead of winter. The police were called and when they told the miscreant to drop the gun he leveled it at them.

We heard the shots and, later on, saw the gurney. That house was torn down quickly thereafter, they didn't fool around with 'troubled' properties then. The house across the street was taken about year later, this time for the expansion of a business. I stayed put, got a different partner (a new 'we' as it were) and then, over the years, some of our friends actually moved in, the freeway was built behind us, and as our little neighborhood became cut off from the rest of the city it turned into an "artists' colony" of sorts.

By Professor Batty


Blogger Jono said...

Interesting how urban planning or lack thereof shapes a city.
My look back then was described as more like Fidel Castro.

Blogger Professor Batty said...

We dodged the urban renewal bullet for nearly twenty years, but they did finally take those houses to build a bus garage—for a private company!

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