As it cuts across South Minneapolis, Lake Street reflects the city's diversity and its rich history. Initially a narrow dirt road out beyond Minneapolis's early city limits, Lake Street evolved into a major transportation route after the turn of the last century. Spurred by the city's population boom during those early years, the Lake Street corridor soon filled in with retail shops, restaurants, movie theaters, and auto dealers. But Lake Street's role as a major commercial corridor did not last. Buffeted by the forces of suburbanization after World War II, businesses along the corridor began to close, leaving Lake Street pockmarked with vacant, blighted buildings. Then, starting in the 1990s, the seeds of the corridor's renewal were planted when an energetic group of new arrivals to the United States began renovating Lake Street's deteriorating storefronts for their family-owned businesses. Lake Street's rejuvenation has continued into the current century as business and community leaders build on the work begun by those 20th-century urban pioneers.
About the Author
Iric Nathanson tells the story of this resilient urban street using images from archival collections at the Minnesota Historical Society, the Hennepin County Public Library, and the Hennepin History Museum. Nathanson's most recent work, Downtown St. Paul, was published in 2019 as part of the Image of America series.