Historic street on North Loop

The North Loop – Minneapolis’ Historic Neighborhood

September 13, 2019 by Joe Grunnet

The North Loop Neighborhood Association is a great advocate for people living and working in the downtown community. Not only do they promote a clean, safe, and fun neighborhood, but they also help keep North Loop residents informed and involved on important issues affecting the area.

Recently, the association has shifted their focus to sharing stories about the history of this beloved neighborhood through old photos and short documentaries that help showcase what our modern and bustling district looked like back in the day. So, what was life really like back before the North Loop was what it is today? Let’s take a look! 

A Quick History on the North Loop Neighborhood

Many of the buildings in the North Loop were built a century ago as warehouses and industries, which helped make Minneapolis a key distribution center for the United States. This all began in the 1860s, when railroads first crossed the Mississippi River to Nicollet Island. You can still see that bridge today!

Due to Minneapolis’ expanding and modern rail system, the city was positioned perfectly to do big business with settlers making their way across the prairies. Many local and national firms opened up shop in Minneapolis to sell their goods and take advantage of the booming market. After the turn of the 20th century, Minneapolis became the largest distribution point in the world for agricultural implements. In 1919, wholesaling and warehousing became a billion-dollar industry in what is now known as the North Loop.

Eventually, manufacturers also came to Minneapolis to produce products from mixed nuts and mouthwash to the Model T Ford. Flour bags were produced in our office building, Tower Lofts, which has its iconic tower in the middle of the building to combat the city’s water pressure issues of the time. In fact, you will see many towers atop North Loop buildings still today.

Many of the architectural elements of the past can also be seen today on various North Loop buildings. Details, including the companies name or symbols, have been preserved over time. For instance, you can still see the two terracotta deer heads on the old Deere & Webber Co. (which is now the Tractorworks Building), as well as the stone globe dripping with paint on top of the old Sherwin-Williams building located on 3rd street.

As technology advanced, many of these companies started to transition to easier, more economical forms of transportation, leaving behind their warehouses for bigger spaces in outlying areas. This, coupled with The Great Depression, set in motion a steady decline for the North Loop. But because these buildings were not torn down to make room for high rises, today they set the stage for the charm of the North Loop.

Many businesses and residents continue to flock to the North Loop to live in the same buildings that helped spur Minneapolis’ economy a century ago. And today, the North Loop is one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in Minneapolis.

To get the full story, be sure to check out the full “Loop Back” video produced by the North Loop Neighborhood Association.

Become a Part of the North Loop Neighborhood

Want to live in one of Minneapolis’ most exciting and historic districts? Our DRG experts are here to help you find your own piece of North Loop’s history. Learn more about this exciting neighborhood and about the Minneapolis condos and lofts located here and other popular neighborhoods using our Condo Guide.

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