Tag Archives: Minneapolis History

April – A season and reason to explore, learn, think, and share ideas!

So many options, so little time!  But do take time, because you will want to participate in these and the scores of other creative and thought-provoking learning/thinking opportunities that invariably bloom when the ice melts and the sun shines (if only for short spurts)  in these parts.  Just a smattering of the possibilities:

  • Thursday, April 13, 6:00-7:30 pm. Join the Friends of Minneapolis Central Library Global Conversations program.  Discussion this month will focus on the subject of Conflict in the South China Sea, the locus of competing territorial claims.  Professor Duncan McCampbell, attorney and professor of international business and law at Metro State University will lead the discussion.  His background includes extensive travel in Asia and publications on commercial, legal, political and security issues.  He recently returned from a month-long visit to China and the Philippines to research the evolving situation in the South China Sea.  Free and open. Register at the Global Minnesota website (https://www.globalminnesota.org)  or at the library prior to the program.  The program will be available as a podcast on the Global Minnesota website.
  • Always a huge crowd pleaser, the Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival is set for April 13-29. This year’s Festival features 350 new films representing over seventy countries. The epicenter of the festival is Anthony Main Theater, with numerous additional screenings throughout the Twin Cities and in Rochester. Learn much more about the Festival in this and other mainstream articles.  http://www.startribune.com/6-hidden-treasures-at-this-year-s-mpls-st-paul-film-festival/418558733/ – For complete information including the calendar, special events and programs, bios, tickets and more, click here: http://mspfilm.org

UPDATE:   4/18https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/15b83104a4132e1c

  On Saturday, April 15, 2:00 pm at Minneapolis Central Library author Iric Nathanson will share the story of the development of downtown Minneapolis from early days as a milling metropolis to its evolution as a residential community. The Minneapolis Riverfront and World War I Minnesota are both part of the Images of America series. “Images of America: Downtown Minneapolis.  His book, “Minneapolis in the Twentieth Century: The Growth of an American City,” published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, was nominated for a Minnesota Book Award. His most recent book is “World War I Minnesota.”  To get a feel for the breadth of Nathanson’s studies of Minneapolis history, follow his regular contributions to Minnpost here https://www.minnpost.com/author/iric-nathanson. Free and open.  (612 543 8203)

  • You’ve heard of Interact Center for Visual and Performing Arts, the nonprofit dedicated to providing studio and performance opportunities arts for people with disabilities. (https://interactcenter.org,)  But have you ever visited Interact?   As part of the Saint Paul Spring Art Crawl (April 28-29)  you are invited to visit and learn more about the Interact Center Visual Arts Department.  The family-friendly event includes the chance to meet an artist and to actually create a unique object d’art . You will also have the opportunity to purchase original art work by Interact artists at 20% off the original price.   Interact is at 1860 Minnehaha Avenue West in St Paul.

UPDATE – NOT TO BE MISSED OPPORTUNITY:  http://www.continuum.umn.edu/event/the-sixth-extinction/

UPDATE — MORE FROM INTERACT https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/15bb43c5277fe6ca

We Love Our Presidents 2017!


We Love Our Presidents

Saturday, February 18, 2017

WALK & Celebration 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Celebrating our NE Presidential Streets: Washington to Kennedy Streets in Northeast Minneapolis

Walk begins at 10:00 followed by noon celebration

In his positive FB post community leader Paul Ostrow reminds young neighbors and their elders that “You don’t have to love all the Presidents to Love Our Presidents Walk. It is a great way to celebrate American history and our northeast community at the same time.”

Recognizing the value of being inclusive, and knowing that the legendary event honors the legacy of their community, Northeast Minneapolis youth will join in the traditional President’s Day walk. Neighbors of every age who live and learn on streets that bear the names that honor the memories of national leaders will walk to celebrate and learn about their neighborhood and past presidents of the U.S.

Northeast neighbors – including Northeasters past, present and future, their friends and families – will gather at 10:00 AM at Northeast Library, 2200 Central Avenue Northeast – All will walk up Central Avenue with a pause for a cocoa break at Eastside Food Coop – then on to Audubon Park and further on to Northeast Middle School for a chance to warm up and enjoy a chili lunch break that features drawings, presidential trivia, awards for the locally famous coloring contest, and a chance to mingle with friends and neighbors.




Autumn Leaves Lots to Learn!

There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!  

Percy Bysshe Shelley

The harmony and luster of autumn somehow inspire us to learn, to engage, to think deep thoughts about “life, the universe and everything.” The good news is that creative colleagues offer food for thought in the form of theater, literature, film, stories and more. Once again, the in-basket is so full of intriguing programs and activities that I plucked just a few that might ignite some plans. To be sure, the list is random, incomplete, intended as a prompt not a calendar of possibilities!

* Theatre Latte Da opens the new season with production of Ragtime, the award- winning tale of life in turn-of-the-century New York, the melting pot of Jewish immigrants, a woman of privilege, and a Harlem musician. The musical, based on the book by E.L. Doctorow, opens September 21 and runs through October 23. (http://www.theaterlatteda.com)

* A reminder that the Twin Cities Zine Fest is set for Saturday September 24 – details in earlier post (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/tag/twin-cities-zine-fest-2016/)

* Stories, Down by the Riverside are featured when storytellers Larry Johnson and Elaine Wyne share their experiences – and those of past residents, their friends and neighbors. It’s Sunday, September 25, 2:00 p.m. at the Hennepin History Museum, (http://www.hennepinhistory.org) They’ll spin tales of “The Great Richter Drug Store Robbery,” “The Day the Old Radio Dramas Vanished” and one about thousands of Minneapolis school children who, in 1896, pulled the John and Helen Stevens house from Cedar-Riverside to Minnehaha Park. Guests will be invited to share their own stories of the Cedar-Riverside community.

* The well-received Women’s Human Rights Film Series sponsored by The Advocates for Human Rights launches September 21; the series is a collaboration with the Saint Paul Public Library where the films will be shown at area public libraries during the weeks to come. “Profiled”, set for September 21, at the Hamline Midway Library, relates the stories of mothers of Black and Latin youth murdered by the NYPD, depicting how the women channel their anger into a struggle for justice. “Red Light Green Light,” set for Thursday, October 13, at the St. Anthony Park Library, explores several nations’ efforts to prevent and cope with the travesty of sex trafficking. “Don’t Tell Anyone”, showing Wednesday, November 3, depicts the life of a young woman who is undocumented, one of the generation of DREAMers “eager to end their silence and push for social change.” All films will be shown at 6:30 p.m. (http://www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org/womens_human_rights_film_series)

* Writer and teacher Wendy Brown Baez (http://www.wendybrownbaez.com/POP-UP-Readings.html) is all about Pop Up Readings, aka Classroom in a Backpack. The first Pop Up workshop is set for Wednesday, September 21, 6:30 p.m. at Eat My Words Books (http://www.eatmywordsbooks.com)

* Nimbus Theatre will inaugurate their new home with an original production of The Kalevala set to run October 8-30. The show is written and adapted by Liz Neerland and directed by Josh Cragun. Based on the 19th century epic of the same name, the original nimbus production overflows with fantasy, giants, gods, maidens and others of their ilk set in the “fierce lands of the north” (https://www.nimbustheatre.com/discover/production/kalevala)

* A quick reminder that the Twin Cities Book Festival is set for Saturday, Octobber 115 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. More about this free event in a separate post.

I’m so glad I live in a world where there is autumn.

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables


Giacomo Constantino Beltrami – A Count Who Counts in Northeast Minneapolis

Residents of Beltrami neighborhood should bask in the glory and aspire to the spirit of one Giacomo Constantino Beltrami!   Over the years I’ve wondered why my nearby neighborhood is called Beltrami, a name shared with the Northern Minnesota county that is, alas, the state’s poorest if you count income, not gusto..  The 19th Century author and explorer, best known in these parts for his claim to have discovered the source of the Mississippi in 1823, is a man with whom to be reckoned.  He made no small plans for himself, as the Beltrami neighborhood makes no small plans of its own.


Born in 1779 in Bergamo in the Northern region of Italy called Lombardy, Beltrami was the 16th of seventeen children.  He must have had a good education in literature, law and other subjects before signing up as a soldier for the Disalpine Republic in 1797.  Since the republic was an extension of France Beltrami was able to work his way into the Napoleonic government and the Masons, both of which were to play an important role in his life.  He spent his early professional life in the Napoleonic judicial system where he established both a sizeable fortune and a liberal world view.

With the downfall of Napoleon Beltrami retreated to his farm where his liberal thoughts soon put him at odds with the papal government.  In 1809 Beltrami befriended Giulia Spada dei Medici; a member of the Medici family.  When she died in 1820 he was distraught.  His distress, coupled with the pressure of the scrutiny and accusations based on his liberal views, spurred Beltrami to embrace a life of adventure.  As an exile, he explored the Continent, ultimately reaching Liverpool, England in 1822.  As the story goes, Beltrami turned his travels to the West, setting sail from Liverpool to the US.  He landed in Philadelphia on December 20, 1822, after what must have been a treacherous Atlantic crossing.

After visiting a number of U.S. cities including Louisville and St. Louis Beltrami began a voyage down the Ohio River with the intention of following it to the Mississippi and then South to New Orleans.  On board he had a life-changing experience when he met the prominent US Indian agent, Lawrence Taliaferro.  Taliaferro’s next plan was to travel up the Mississippi, a plan that intrigued Beltrami who ultimately joined Taliaferro’s expedition.  Eventually Beltrami split from that expedition and set off on his own explorations.  In April 1823 and a small group of Ojibwe Indian guides boarded the steamboat Virginia to begin the seven-hundred-mile voyage for Fort St. Anthony; this was the first steam navigation of the upper Mississippi.

Spurred by a vivid imagination Beltrami pondered the reality that the source of the Mississippi was as yet unknown.  He no doubt entertained a vision of making history by discovering the source of the mighty Mississippi.  In 1823, lured by the possibility of fame and fortune Beltrami left Fort St. Anthon to ventur solo up river, slowed but not discouraged by the fact that he was unable to balance himself in a birch bark canoe which he eventually decided to tow.  His quest led him to a small lake which he called Lake Julia after his friend Giulia who had died;  he named eight other nearby lakes after her children.

Beltrami was convinced he had discovered the source of both the Mississippi and the Red rivers. Though time and modern science indicate he wasn’t quite accurate in claiming the discovery, he deserves credit for a mighty effort.

Beltrami’s claims were largely ignored and sometimes ridiculed.  That didn’t stop his dreams or his studies, however.  After more travels in the Western Hemisphere, Beltrami made a return trip across the Atlantic in 1826.  In 1834 he moved to Heidelberg, Germany, ultimately returning to his estate in Filottrano.  Though he tried to publish his extensive writings, the church-led government denied his requests.  In his final years, he took on the life of Franciscan monks and called himself “Fra Giacomo”. Beltrami lived and worked on his estate where he died in 1855, just five years short of the creation of the Italian nation.

The fact is, the long term impact of Beltrami’s life’s work remain in the records of his learning along the route.  As intellectually curious as he was fearless, Beltrami took time throughout his travels to study the locales he explored and to chronicle his findings for posterity.  His voluminous writings, once banned in Italy, are readily accessible in libraries and archives today.  Among other chronicles Beltrami collected botanical and geological samples and is responsible for the discovery of the only existing texts to provide Latinate translations from the Aztec language.  Throughout all of his travels Beltrami recorded what he learned – whether literary, mineralogical or botanical.  Though his writings were not well received at the time, the record remains intact. When Beltrami died, his nephew left the majority of his written materials to a collection commonly known as Angelo Mai where they remain today. The centerpiece of the library’s holdings of Beltrami materials is the 24 volumes of manuscripts, correspondence and other written work in the Fondo Beltrami. Of particular interest to today’s scholars are Beltrami’s writings about American Indians he encountered in his travels.

Count Giacomo Constantino Beltrami, like his name, is bigger than life, an untapped reservoir of imagination, scholarship and energy. Some have suggested that his relative absence from the American story reflect attitudes about Americans of Italian ancestry.  Never mind, the Italians of Northeast Minneapolis knew a mighty force when they saw one.  In 1947 the park originally called Maple Hill (another story) was re-named Beltrami Park, largely at the request of the predominantly Italian-American residents of the neighborhood.   These Italian-American residents contributed funds for a bronze plaque honoring Beltrami.  Placed in1948, the plaque stands today in Beltrami Park on Polk Avenue and Broadway Northeast.  Today, the Beltrami neighborhood bears the name and remembers a man of courage, scholarship and vision and a proud Italian-American community that continues to keep his name and memory alive.