The Twin Cities prides itself on its diversity. Unbeknownst to many, it is home to the largest Somali population in the U.S. In addition, it has the largest Hmong population outside Laos, the second-largest Vietnamese and Ethiopian populations, and one of the fastest-growing Latino/Hispanic populations in the country. The different cultures have helped shape the city over decades and helped create some of most distinctive neighborhoods, which offer unique architecture, places to eat, and cultural activities across the two cities.
One of these historically significant and distinctive neighborhoods is along a major east-west thoroughfare known as Lake Street in South Minneapolis. This part of the city has attracted various groups of immigrants over the course of its history, which can be reflected in its streetscape lined with mom and pop stores, international grocers, and unique businesses. It is home to a contemporary structure known as the Midtown Exchange, a former Sears building which once served as the second largest commercial building in Minnesota. Following its closure in 1994, the site was eventually redeveloped in 2006 into a mixed-use building containing 300 residential units, as well as office and retail space. In addition to housing Allina Hospital & Clinic headquarters, the Chicago Lofts, and the Midtown Exchange Apartments, the structure is also home to the Midtown Global Market.
The Midtown Global Market in itself is home to a variety of small independently owned restaurants, cafes, and specialty grocers from around the world. The space is also used as a community-gathering place for music, dance, children’s activities, and arts & craft fairs. A Sheraton Hotel was built in the former Sears parking lot with direct access to the Midtown Greenway. Since its opening, the Midtown Global Market has attracted visitors from the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area, who can access the Market via biking tours along the Midtown Greenway.
The opportunity to showcase different cultures that have made this city into what it is today has generated interest and an economic boost that has revived this unique and historically significant neighborhood, which had previously been on the decline.
How can our cities better incorporate cultural diversity when redeveloping?
Credits: Images by Jasna Hadzic. Data linked to sources.