A pair of street-level images of the same spot in North Minneapolis. The first is courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society, c. 1953. The second is the same spot taken last year, by erstwhile tumblr’r (and former podcast guest) Paul Merrill. Note the complete removal of pretty much everything. (Also, it’s worth noting that I’m not sure 3rd Street technically exists any more at this spot. Oh well. You can’t make an omelet…)
But look at that traffic flow!
Funny, there are more cars in the pedestrian-friendly version than in the current pic. Traffic can move much faster when there’s nothing to go to. This practice of large scale urban renewal seems to be commonplace in economically depressed neighborhoods, which ironically end up being hurt the most by it because now no one can open a business in a non-existent building to give anyone a reason to want visit and spur further investments. Instead, we’re supposed to wait for developers to build brand new mixed-use buildings in North…when? Is the city going to fund new builds for new residents and businesses and subsidize the costs to resemble what they would have been if they had left those buildings there? No? Then why tear down the basic foundations necessary to allow revitalization of an urban neighborhood? And it’s not like it did anything to make the neighborhood safer with much fewer eyes on the street, nor did suburbanizing much of the north side of W Broadway result in suburban style safety.
I think this Then & Now makes a stronger case for a Washington-W Broadway streetcar then one could ever make for Nicollet-Central if attracting new development is what’s desired from the implementation of a streetcar line. With the former you have lower commercial occupancy in existing buildings which means less resistance to its construction and as you can see hinted in the pic above there are tons of empty lots not seeing new development like there already is along Nicollet.