Being from Iowa, I am not very familiar with the Twin Cities, let alone the communities within the metro. When I was assigned the community of Seward, a small neighborhood in Minneapolis (about.com states that it is also part of the LongFellow Community), to be honest, I was a little intimidated about going into a neighborhood that I never visited and have no previous information about. Who wouldn’t be a little scared to go into an unfamiliar area and speak to people whom they have never met?
For this blog, I am writing about the history of Seward before actually going to the neighborhood. I find that this may be an interesting way to complete this because you will be able to see what I have to say before going, making my own assumptions and learning information from the internet and after visiting, learning other information from those who actually live there.
After simply typing “Seward neighborhood in Minneapolis” into Google, I came across the group, Seward Neighborhood Group, whose slogan is “Making Seward a better place to live, work, and play”, provide information to an outsider about how some of their community members see their neighborhood and what they might have to offer others.
According to this group, “The Seward Neighborhood Group (SNG) is one of the oldest neighborhood organizations in Minneapolis. SNG was established in 1960 to make Seward a better place to live, work, and play and is recognized by the City of Minneapolis as the official citizen participation organization within the boundaries of the Seward neighborhood.” This group has elected group leaders and is run solely by volunteers. Current committees include; Committee Development, Crime and Safety, Environment, History, and Restorative Justice.
Seward is somewhat enclosed and private because of its surrounding boundaries. It is directly next to both the Mississippi and the Soo Line Railroad, adding character and beautiful scenery to this small community. About.com says that, “Most of the neighborhood is residential, with an industrial area along Hiawatha Avenue and 27th Street in the southwestern part of the neighborhood.”
They seem to pride themselves on the safety of their neighbors, forming what they call “block clubs.” This is intended to connect the community members together to allow one another to protect each other and form better communication within the group. They also describe their neighborhood as a small town surrounded by a big city. This makes me think that they do take great pride in their community by considering this area an actually town. When I make my trip there, this is something I would like to ask a resident about; their feelings about the block clubs.
But before Seward became what it is today, we must look at how it first came about. According to SNG, “A major influence on the early growth of the neighborhood was the construction, in 1870, of the Iowa and Minnesota Division of the Milwaukee railroad, which runs parallel to Hiawatha Avenue on Seward’s western border. With the introduction of the railroad, the western part of Seward began to develop into a small but dense residential area for the immigrant and working-class families who worked in Franklin Avenue’s railroad shops and in nearby Minneapolis.”
As the years followed, the community began to build itself up from commercialization and agriculture, pushing its boundaries further and further outwards. In the past couple of years, Seward has begun to focus on building business that will better meet the needs of its community members.
As for Seward’s future, SNG says that, “What changes does the future have in store for Seward? Only time will tell. The beginning of the new century has already seen a new influx of immigrants who have brought their energy, imagination, and diversity to the neighborhood, and the next several years will see the introduction of a light-rail line that will run along the neighborhood’s west side. Whatever happens, Seward is sure to remain a unique place for people to live, work, and play.” I couldn’t have said it any better than that.
After researching this history, I have begun to for somewhat of a picture of what to expect for my visit. I believe that I will see a variety of businesses run by locals only and possibly different cultures as for the residents. I may be right, I may be wrong. Only this visit will tell.
James, C. (n.d.). The seward neighborhood. Retrieved from http://minneapolis.about.com/od/minneapolisneighborhoods/p/seward.htm
Seward neighborhood group. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://sng.org/