Gentrification and Preservation of East Town Through Google Maps

One of the best ways for me to learn about different neighborhoods is to check them out through Google Maps. Their algorithm is complex enough that it shows map perimeters of Elliot Park and Downtown East, but not quite fast enough to include one for the new(er) East Town, but I digress.

A few months ago, I had coffee with a Director of a lot of things Minneapolis. We chatted about many things downtown including transportation, gentrification, preservation, Elliot Park and East Town. Later that day, I decided to take a zig-zag 6-mile #mspwalk to learn more about the places, businesses, and areas where gentrification meets preservation, and will historic preservation of Elliot Park contribute to gentrification?


Light Rail in East Town

First, the Light Rail line cuts right through the center of East Town. The U.S. Bank Station is within a mile from anywhere in East Town and shares the Blue and Green line. Take the wrong line, it doesn’t take long after you realize it to track back and get back on the correct line, not that I would know or anything.

Many of the links below will be Google Maps links of the location which includes your standard address, website and directions. They’ll also include features like reviews and extra information relevant to the business or area of attraction.

A few blocks away is the Minneapolis Armory. Last October, Google Maps showed this place as “Permanently Closed”. Since I moved here in 1999, I supposed I always just thought of it as a landmark of where the old Minneapolis Lakers used to play. If you look at their Google Maps page now, it’s open again, of course with directions for walking, biking, transit and cars. Also included are ratings and reviews and Google’s newer Q and A feature.


Armory in East Town

One last thing Google Maps shows is this week’s Armory events as Imagine Dragons and Pink perform during Super Bowl week.

My original question was what are they going to do with the Armory once the Super Bowl is done? I’m hoping they include events to benefit the community who lives here. We’ll see what the councils-that-be have planned or are already on top of it. It does look they are bringing in some national acts including Slayer. The last time  I saw them I hung out way back by the merch table and still got caught in a mosh. But again, I digress. Hopefully, these performances will bring in money to nearby restaurants and hotels.

The Portland Tower is a new luxury condo complex. As a nearby Downtown West resident, I’m cautiously optimistic about this. I get that there is just going to be gentrification. Hopefully, this is an example of where it doesn’t take away preservation, at least as little as possible. The location was probably thought out very well being right by downtown skyway access and easy access to 35 and 94. It hopefully fits in for preservation well, too. It’s right by the House of Charity and close to old Brownstones.


House of Charity

My hopes were to keep this neighbor as is, but this is where the cautiously optimism comes in. The House of Charity is part of the Minneapolis Big Build. They’re building with new construction while renovating their current location. I consider places like House of Charity essential for a growing urban downtown and sends a pretty powerful message of promoting positive social change.

The place has mixed reviews on Google Maps, IMO the lower rated ones being a bit suspect, but I digress.

These last two places were right on that border or Elliot Park and Downtown East/West. It was time to head further into Elliot Park because I was hungry and wanted to see NCU as I’ve always been fascinated by that college and how it quietly fits in an urban setting.



Elliot Park Field

Elliot Recreation Center by NCU has a collegiate sized field with a fantastic view of downtown Minneapolis. Opened in 2015, the field’s a partnership between the North Central University Rams and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation. It only has a few, mixed Google reviews, but they keep it pristine during the season and is available for rental through the city of Minneapolis. They even use it for the North Central Wellness department. Next to Currie Field, this is my favorite urban soccer pitch.

I’ve been by the Hinkle-Murphy house many times and never gave it a second thought. It’s a historical landmark built in 1887 first lived in by a leading flour producer, now to multi-commercial tenants including Fay & Associates, injury attorneys at law. It’s pristine and right on the southern edge of downtown in Elliot Park. Will this be an example of good preservation near gentrification? Or will it be historic preservation that builds nearby natural gentrification and of course, higher housing costs?


Hinkle Murphy House



Band Box

What can you say about the Band Box Diner? It’s delicious greasy breakfast, burgers and fries, and that’s about it. It’s an easy walk from both downtown and within Elliot Park. The positive reviews say it all and to top it off, they have a good sense of humor. Community and diversity at its finest!

One of the East Town motives is a chance. Maybe it will eventually be a combined neighborhood where development and gentrification successfully meets preservation. We’ll soon see. The area has been growing fast the last couple of years. What are your thoughts? Please let us know in the comments!


Paul Jahn

About Paul Jahn

Ward 3 Mpls resident, virtual tours and 360 photographer, and you can find him at LocalMN, also on Twitter and Facebook. Volunteer for Streets for People and love urban walks. Music grad at Central Washington University.