Author and historian Brian MacMahon will discuss how the Ford Motor Company transformed Minnesota as detailed in his award-winning book, The Ford Century in Minnesota, published by the University of Minnesota Press. The impact of the company will be seen locally, including the introduction of the Model T, the building of the Twin Cities Assembly Plant, cutbacks during the Depression, World War II, women joining the workforce, dealerships on Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street, globalization, the eventual closing of the plant in St. Paul, and more.
James Eli Shiffer, author of The King of Skid Row: John Bacich and the Twilight Years of Old Minneapolis, will visually take us to visit the nucleus of the old Gateway at Hennepin, Nicollet, and Washington Avenues. Though office towers, upscale hotels, and condos abound here, imagine this intersection 60 years earlier where you are surrounded by seedy nightclubs, bars, and flophouses in such filthy, decaying structures that the resident vermin left scathing reviews on Yelp; by individuals sprawled on the grass at Gateway Park; or on corners gossiping, fighting, and passing around a communal bottle of booze. Now imagine yourself at the Sourdough Bar, ordering around for your buddies while chatting with barkeep John “Johnny Rex” Bacich, the subject of our October program and of James Eli Shiffer’s book The King of Skid Row. Join us for a look back at the seamy side of the city!
Just over a century ago the Minneapolis City Council directed the Milwaukee Railroad Company to construct a trench and 37 bridges for roads spanning the trench (just north of Lake Street between Hennepin and Cedar Avenues). This provided a grade separation of three miles from Hennepin to Cedar Avenues between the railroad and the city’s automobile and streetcar traffic. Learn about the controversies surrounding this major civil works project in the early 1900s, the trench and corridor’s transitions from industry to residential use, from rail to bicycle traffic over the last 100 years, as well as what the future might hold for the Midtown Greenway. The program will be presented by local historians Tom Balcom and Aaron Isaacs.
For millennia, the place where the Minnesota River joins the Mississippi has been a crossroads, a place of strategic power. But that symbolism is complicated. This tour is a powerful reminder that most Minnesotans today are descendants of immigrants, living on conquered land.
Peter DeCarlo, author of Fort Snelling at Bdote, shares the story of the power of place and its peoples. He introduces us to key people who lived in the area. Their lives demonstrate a complicated story laden with the brutal realities of how people were treated, government and those chosen as leaders, and the landscape.
Peter DeCarlo is a historian whose research centers on the history of colonialism in Minnesota. He works at the Minnesota Historical Society.
Optional Fort Snelling tours, including “Landscape of Bdote,” following the program.
On this walking tour we will revisit the area known by some as Fern Valley and Mineral Springs. Tour guide Peter Sussman will focus on the transformations that have taken place with the landscape and the community from the 1870s to modern times.
Meet outside the Bakken Museum.
Architectural historian and freelance writer Dick Kronick will lecture on the history of architect John Jager, who laid out the Red Cedar Lane neighborhood in southwest Minneapolis. Research conducted in 2018 uncovered previously unknown information about Jager’s life, and buildings that he designed.
Robert Fischer was the most unusual artist ever inspired by Minnehaha Falls. From about 1900 until 1940, he created tens of thousands of delicate sand designs in clear glass containers, using nothing but the natural colored sands found in Minnehaha Park. Only a few of these still exist. Fischer lived in the Falls neighborhood for decades, and also worked as Park Board commissioner, poet, patent medicine manufacturer, and as policeman. Historian Karen Cooper will tell the story of Robert Fischer, his sand art, and his varied careers. Karen has spent many years revealing Minnehaha Park history and uncovering the stories of the characters who inhabited the area.
One of the area’s best local history resources, the collection covers all aspects of the history of Minneapolis and Hennepin County and includes books, photographs, school yearbooks, archival and manuscript collections, periodicals, maps, postcards, and thousands of files of newspaper clippings. We will get an inside view of their collections including the reading room, their workroom, and storage areas. Staff will give orientation to their online resources. We will have an opportunity to ask questions.
Carpool from Linden Hills Park (4230 Xerxes Ave S). Meet at 9:15.
Call with questions 612-926-0646 or email firstname.lastname@example.org