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Nicollet Island memories come back into focus

Nicollet Island

Some of my earliest memories are of Nicollet Island in downtown Minneapolis. My mother lived in the Grove Street Flats for a time as a child. She would take my sisters and me down there sometimes, usually to go to mass at Our Lady of Lourdes church just over the bridge, where she was married and where I was baptized. “The Island” and surrounding areas were pretty run-down in those days. Now it’s an odd little gentrified-but-funky neighborhood in the middle of the Mississippi River just above St. Anthony Falls.

Nicollet Island’s 48 acres contain Victorian houses, apartments and condos, a high school, a hotel, the iconic Grain Belt Beer sign, trails, open spaces, remnants of old factories and great views of the river, the downtown skyline, and the old village of St. Anthony.

The Hennepin Avenue suspension bridge crosses the island at the site of the first bridge ever built over the Mississippi River in 1855.

I paid a recent visit and found that while some things had changed, there were still a surprising number of my childhood memories waiting there for me.

MinnPost photo by Steve DateGrove Street Flats

MinnPost photo by Steve Date

MinnPost photo by Steve Date

MinnPost photo by Steve Date

MinnPost photo by Steve Date

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MinnPost photo by Steve Date

MinnPost photo by Steve Date

MinnPost photo by Steve Date

MinnPost photo by Steve DateThe downstream tip of Nicollet Island just above St. Anthony Falls.

MinnPost photo by Steve Date

MinnPost photo by Steve DateView toward the old town of St. Anthony from Nicollet Island. Our Lady of Lourdes Church in background.

Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 03/15/2012 - 11:30 am.

    Rare islands in the city…

    What a magnificent photo journey where somebody in city planning; whomever, had the wisdom to save some of old Nicollet Island.

    What a way to view the city. May this place never become overrun with aspiring developers so one cannot see the skyline or the enduring mystique of this jewel.

    Islands in the city are rare , as Park Point in Duluth which tragically has compromised its ‘footprint’ lately with another hotel complex threatening the neighbors view of the harbor.; and so much more.

    I wonder if developers ever look up or out at the splendid views and see other than dollar signs.

    The beaches themselves and old growth forest at the end of the Point deeded to the city by the state; an old conveyance back in the late thirties, under certain conditions: to be used For Public Recognition Only and the maintenance of same. That conveyance has not been respected.

    Beaches erode into backyards and become dunes only the Sahara would love. Does that support the maintenance requirement?

    If the city does not, has not fulfilled the condition of that conveyance – like maintaining the beaches effectively – should it go back to the state? Now there’s a fine kettle of fish but it could happen I suppose?

    Why was an old first nation, Native American burial ground near the end of the Point never preserved..why not?

    May Nicollet Island respectfully retain some of the past ..while another island-in-the-city, Park Point becomes a commercial strip.

    Sometimes you give up and watch a rare gem be destroyed

  2. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 03/15/2012 - 01:31 pm.


    Fifth paragraph should read the phrase…”For Public Recreation Only..”, not recognition, sorry

  3. Submitted by becky ramgren on 03/15/2012 - 07:06 pm.

    these are great pictures of a city treasure! crisp colors and fantastic views. thanks for sharing. your visual tour was quite pleasing to the eye. keep your views coming.

  4. Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 03/15/2012 - 08:10 pm.

    Great photos, but…

    I want to know more about the 2 houseboats I see moored on the island.

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