Monthly Archives: January 2013

Northeasters Love Their Neighborhood – and Their Presidents

In Minneapolis it is a sad fact that most of the street names are logical, but boring.  Still, there are exceptions.  Streets in Southwest Minneapolis, for example, still bear the names of prominent citizens who built the city.  Some neighborhood street names are just plain quirky, often the remnants of the original landowners.  Northeast stands out as the most patriotic of all neighborhoods.  The Presidents’ Streets are legendary, an inspiration to most and a conundrum to those who aren’t up to speed on American history.

Writing in The Northeaster in 1988 Penny Jacobson describes in detail the story of how “many early settlers’ names disappeared from streets for the sake of uniformity.”  It’s a great story of how Northeast streets got their historic names.

Though street names have changed more than once over time, the “permanent” names of today’s Northeast neighborhood streets reflect a burst of Americanism surrounding World War I and welcoming the wave of immigrants coming to the community.  One way to learn the Presidents’ names was to walk the neighborhood itself.

Jacobson reminds residents that Tyler Street Northeast was once known as Clayton; Polk Street was Wilkin; Taylor Street used to be Cummings; Fillmore was known as Eastwood; Pierce was Brott; Buchanan was Wells; Lincoln was Maryland and Johnson was East.  The previous names, with the exception of Maryland and East, were those of property owners in the early era of Northeast development.

And so the street names of Northeast continue, Ulysses (as in Grant)  through McKinley,  until  it comes to Stinson Parkway.   James Stinson donated the land for Stinson Boulevard in 1885; naming rights for the Parkway are the responsibility of Minneapolis Parks and Recreation.

Sometime in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s the city fathers continued the re-naming of Northeast streets.  The Committee on Roads and Bridges recommended and the City Council approved, changing the name of “L” Street to Harding, “M” street to Coolidge, “O” Street to Hoover Street, and “P” Street to Delano.  Delano slipped in because there was already a Roosevelt Street and a Franklin Avenue.  (Delano, by the way, is just North of Hennepin and in proper historic sequence.)

All this comes to mind as Northeasters prepare for the fifth annual We Love Our President’s Walk scheduled for Saturday, February 16.   It’s a tradition!

Participants, walkers, bikers, even pets will gather at 10:00 a.m. at Edison High School (between Washington and Monroe).  The Northeast Urban 4-H Club will lead walkers up Central;  along the way they will stop at designated points to share trivia about the presidents.

After a stop for hoc chocolate at the Eastside Food Coop walkers will head East on 29th for a hot lunch and program featuring a trivia contest, drawing, prizes and a brief presentation.

What’s new this year at the President’s Walk will be some intrepid bikers and a focus on presidential pets.  There will also be presentation of the coveted 2013 Northeast Presidential Seal to the group with the most participants.  A shuttle bus will transport talkers back to the start of the Walk.

For more information or to volunteer to help with the Walk, contact David Warnest with Minneapolis Public Schools Community Education.  Reach him at 612 668 1515 or

Readers Look to Spirited Romance for Literary Love?

“The brain may die, but my compulsion for useless trivia lives on.”

Molly Harper, Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs

Molly Harper is a librarian which is probably why I opted for this pithy quote.  She’s also a lover of a genre commonly known as “spirited romance.”  This is the gentle term often used to describe literary works that deal with love among the vampires, werewolves, demons, shapeshifters, ghosts, angels, changelings and their ilk.

And spirit romances are hot – in more ways than one.  So hot that exhibit designer Ruthann Ovenshire is feverishly creating a display of blistering fiction titles plucked from the shelves of Minneapolis Central Library.

The exhibit includes titles from these and other prolific authors adept at weaving a tale of spirited romance just right for a long winter evening’s read:  Cherry Adair, Claire Ashgrove, Michele Bardsley, Anya Bast, J.K. Beck, Cynthia Cooke, Lydia Dare, Mary Janice Davidson, Alyssa Day, Laurie London, Katie MacAlister, Sarah McCarty, Pamela Palmer, Lynsay Sands, and Nalini Singh.

Paranormal romance writer Keri Arthur defines her genre in this way:

A romance with paranormal characters and events.  It follows the same rules that apply to all romances and it has the build up of the romance as the heart and main plot of the novel.  The only real difference (between paranormal romance and urban fantasy is that either one or both of the main characters often aren’t human, and the story itself can dip into darker waters plot-wise than a regular romance.  That said, the paranormal elements have to be a believable, intricate part of your plot.

Arthur goes on to note that paranormal romance covers the whole genre spectrum.  They can be humorous, historical, futuristic, contemporary, mystery, fantasy, urban fantasy, scifi, gothic, erotica.”

Some critics suggest that the increase in interest in paranormal romance is a 21st century phenomenon of technology.  The genre thrives in an environment of telepathy, robots, implants, time travel and other anomalies.

There are organizations of paranormal romance awriters and readers, blogs, journals and book groups.  A popular title in the genre may sell over a half million copies.

There was once a cherished reader’s choice award.  The P.E.A.R.L. (Paranormal Excellence Award for Romantic Literature) conferred annually to the top voted paranormal romances by the ParaNormal Romance Groups.  The award has not been active since 2008, but then again….

Check out the exhibit, escape to the netherworld of the paranormal for an evening.