North Fifth Street Story
Minneapolis, c. 1978
Living on the fringe of an old warehouse district I found myself surrounded by the ghosts of the past. When the area was built up, in the 1880s, the primary source of moving merchandise within the city was by horsepower. This meant that there were numerous stables in the outlying areas along with modest housing for the teamsters who used horses to draw their wagons. Most of the houses were gone by the mid 70s, lost to redevelopment or highway construction. There were still a large number of stables remaining, however. They had all been converted to storage or light industrial use. With their tell-tale hay lofts, it was easy to spot them.
One day a car containing an elderly woman came by the house where I lived. She was on a visit to the neighborhood of her youth. She had her son, who was driving, stop so she could talk to the "young urban pioneers" who now lived in her old haunts. Her house was gone, but she remembered most of the buildings which remained. She mentioned that the Fire Station (on the next block) was where a large horse barn had once stood. She said that her most vivid memory of childhood was when that barn had caught fire.
She said she could still hear the horses screaming.