From The WPA Guide to Minnesota (1938): "A short distance upstream and about halfway down the riverbank were the Chalybete Springs. Early residents of St. Anthony Village, impressed by the healing properties of the waters, built paths and steps to their outlet. But the spring lost its reputation, its steps, and its platform, when an analysis, urged by skeptics, showed that it drained a neighboring swamp which was responsible for the bitter odor and taste." Not even the most gullible visitor to Minneapolis today could be hoodwinked into taking a mouthful of the Mississippi, but the fascinating properties of the surrounding neighborhood remain unchanged. Back in 1938 writers laid out a 2.3-mile jaunt through the industrial heart of what was then known as the Northwest. The WPA Guide recommends stops at the "Great Northern Stone Arch Bridge"--once known as "Hill's Folly" after the railroad baron who dared build it in 1881; the Ard Godfrey House (Chute Square at Central and University Avenues), variously described as the oldest frame house in this part of the city, or just one of the oldest; and the Pillsbury "A" Mill, whose mechanical hum can still be heard day and night. A few other sites are worthy of mention: Our Lady of Lourdes Church (at Ortman and Bank Streets), which served the French Catholic community and was once connected to the city's only French-language newspaper; Nicollet Island, whose neatly cobblestoned streets and Candy Land painting schemes have taken on the luster of Disney's Celebration in recent years; and the historical displays that flank the newish Federal Reserve Bank, laying out the growth of St. Anthony Falls in a row of handsome panels. Guests to our fair, post-industrial Cities will no doubt appreciate such a concise, scenic overview of the past. People who are thinking of staying will gawk at the $350K row houses and luxury lofts that have sprung up in the neighborhood, marking the next stage in our river town's evolution.


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >