Walking historic Minneapolis — There’s an app for that!

Seldom have we known such a summer for strolling Twin Cities neighborhoods – enjoying the magnificent gardens, the unique architecture, the cool breezes, the friendliness of your own neighborhoods, and the stories of neighborhoods waiting to be explored.

Good news – there’s an app for that!!!

Check out the Minnesota Historical walking tour app now available for iPhone and Android users. The digital guide will enlighten your tour through the Marcy Holmes and Old Highland neighborhoods in North Minneapolis, home of the City of Lakes earliest residents.

Some background: The earliest residents of these neighborhoods were Native Americans for whom the waterfalls on the river were sacred. Father Louis Hennepin, a Franciscan priest, is credited with being the first European to see the falls in 1680. He was so taken with their beauty that he named them after his patron saint, St Anthony of Padua.

The accounts of Father Hennepin helped make this a destination for adventurous travelers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The falls became the center for logging businesses so that by 1850 census records show the town of St. Anthony Falls with a population of 656. The first store was opened in 1847, at what is now Main Street and Second Avenue SE; the first frame houses were built in 1848 and the first school was opened in 1849.

Eventually the town of St Anthony Falls incorporated in 1855, and was later named St. Anthony. It merged with Minneapolis in 1872.  Fifth Street became the premier address in the city. It was home to flour manufacturers, lumbermen, merchants and other civic leaders who built the town of St. Anthony. The Old Highland neighborhood was originally part of the Fort Snelling Military Reservation, claimed for the US in 1809 by Zebulon Pike

Start with the Old Highland neighborhood. The elegantly preserved neighborhoods feature Queen Anne and Victorian architecture built during Minneapolis during what is known as the “Golden Age.” Before venturing out you might want to start with the online walking tour designed by the Old Highland Neighborhood Association (http://www.minneapolishistorical.org/tour-builder/tours/show/id/3#.U9g5ucZQZ4N)

There you’ll find in-depth descriptions of 30 homes, their history, architectural features and the stories of former residents. You’ll find the stories of Ascension Church, built in 1890 and of the Ascension school, begun by three Sisters of St. Joseph in 1897, of the home of Vincent Schuler, founder of the Schuler Shoes Chain, of Frank Gross, the second Minneapolis Parks Commissioner (for whom the golf course is named), churches and homes of Norwegian and German immigrants, The list goes on…

Moving right along, check out the Marcy-Holmes website (http://marcy-holmes.org/neighborhood/map-tours/) The site includes a published guide to the neighborhood, Hiding in Plain Sight by Penny Peterson.  Again you’ll find descriptions and stories of the history, the houses, the people – especially the “musings” of local residents.

Now that you’ve got the idea, take the new app as your guide as you walk the walk through the Mill City’s first neighborhoods. The Marcy Holmes section of the app features 24 historical sites while the Old Highland Neighborhood offers 29 featured sites.

The app is available free on the iTunes App Store and Google Play.

“Minneapolis Historical” was created by Preserve Minneapolis (http://www.preserveminneapolis.org) and the Old Highland Neighborhood Association (http://www.oldhighland.org) with software developed by Cleveland State University. The project was funded with Legacy funds administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.

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