Tag Archives: U.S. Presidents

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 David.warnest@mpls.k12.mn.us.

Remembering John Adams, Attorney and President, on July 4th


Note:  The following piece was written to honor John Adams on Law Day, May 1.  Somehow it never got posted.  Knowing that John Adams – and Thomas Jefferson – died on July 4, 1826, it seems appropriate to rescue the piece from the “to be deleted” file and resurrect Adams’ memory in anticipation of the 4th which today is much more about picnics and fireworks than about remembering the deeds of our forefathers
and mothers.

Resistance leader and patriot, advocate and diplomat, constitutional theorist and political activist, John Adams became our nation’s first lawyer-president in 1797. Just five years before the American Revolutionary War began, he represented the British officer and soldiers charged with firing into a crowd of protestors and killing five civilians in the “Boston Massacre.”

Already a prominent leader in the American colonial resistance to British parliamentary authority, Adams agreed to take on the cases and ably defended the accused at trial. His role in the 1770 Boston Massacre trials has come to be seen as a lawyerly exemplar of adherence to the rule of law and defense of the rights of the accused, even in cases when advocates may represent unpopular clients and become involved in matters that generate public controversy.

Although each is unique in circumstance and significance, there have been other such noteworthy cases in American history. These cases range from Adams and the Boston Massacre trial to the 1846 “insanity” defense of William Freeman by William Seward, later Lincoln’s Secretary of State, to Sigmund Ziesler’s and William Perkins Black’s 1886 representation of the Haymarket 8 accused of killing a Chicago police officer (marking its 125th anniversary in 2011) to Samuel Leibowitz’s 1930s defense of nine black Alabama teenagers, the Scottsboro Boys, accused of rape to the representation by Michael Tigar and Brian Hermanson of Terry Nichols in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing case to contemporary efforts by lawyers to represent Guantanamo detainees in the global war on terrorism. It is important to recognize that the passage of time can bring historical and legal perspective to passions of the day.

The 2011 Law Day theme provides us with an opportunity to assess and celebrate the legacy of John Adams, explore the historical and contemporary role of lawyers in defending the rights of the accused, and renew our understanding of and appreciation for the fundamental principle of the rule of law.