Cedar-Riverside, Minneapolis

West Bank

Location of Cedar-Riverside within the U.S. city of Minneapolis
Coordinates: 44°58′00″N 93°14′36″W / 44.96667°N 93.24333°W / 44.96667; -93.24333Coordinates: 44°58′00″N 93°14′36″W / 44.96667°N 93.24333°W / 44.96667; -93.24333
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Hennepin
City Minneapolis
Community University
  Total 0.549 sq mi (1.42 km2)
Population (2010)[2]
  Total 8,094
  Density 15,000/sq mi (5,700/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
  Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 55454
Area code(s) 612
Historical population
Census Pop.

Cedar-Riverside, also referred to as the West Bank, is a neighborhood within Minneapolis, Minnesota. Its boundaries are the Mississippi River to the north and east, Interstate 94 to the south, and Hiawatha Avenue and Interstate 35W to the west. It has a longstanding tradition of cultural diversity and today is home to one of the largest Somali communities in the United States. This has led to the epithet Little Mogadishu (sometimes Little Somalia).


Cedar-Riverside is one of the most diverse areas in Minneapolis-St. Paul.[3] It is home to a number of the 100 or so different languages that are spoken in the Twin Cities.[4] A vibrant neighborhood, it boasts many restaurants, cafés, bars, and venues for performance art and music.[3]

The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood is historically known for its immigrant population, beginning in the late 1940s post-World War II with immigrants from eastern Europe.[5] With the arrival of many new Cambodian, Somali, and especially Latino immigrants, hospitals now also offer services in other languages to accommodate patients whose mother tongue is not English.[6]

The Twin Cities area saw an influx of Somali immigrants beginning in the mid-1990s, largely as a result of the Somali Civil War. The city holds the nation's highest number of Somali immigrants, around 14,000 in total, many of whom reside in the Cedar-Riverside area and in the surrounding neighborhoods on and around Lake Street in South Minneapolis.

The neighborhood is part of the University community, and is dominated by the West Bank campus of the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus, which includes the Law School, Carlson School of Management, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, and West Bank Arts Quarter. The East and West Bank of the U of M are connected by the Washington Avenue Bridge. The acquisition of a number of residential blocks by the University for expansion of the West Bank campus was controversial in the 1960s.

The neighborhood is also home to Augsburg College, a private liberal arts college and St. Catherine University's Minneapolis campus.

It is served by the Blue and Green light rail lines. It is the only neighborhood in the Twin Cities with two light rail stops.


In the late 19th century, Cedar-Riverside had a sizable Scandinavian immigrant community, most of whose members labored in the Mississippi River's lumber and milling industries. It later evolved into a hub for intellectuals, hippies, radical activists,[7] actors, musicians and artists during the 1960s and 70s. In keeping with its tradition of ethnic and cultural diversity, the neighborhood is today home to the largest immigrant community in the Twin Cities.[3]

According to U.S. Census data from the 2005 to 2010 periods, the neighborhood's race and ethnicity profile is as follows: 45.0% Black or African American, 37.1% White, 10.9% Asian or Pacific Islander, 3.4% Hispanic or Latino, 2.8% two or more races, 0.5% American Indian and Alaska Native, and 0.2% other race.[8]

About 51.7% of residents are female and 48.3% are male. Most denizens are young (16.7% are younger than 18), with 18- to 24-year-olds and 25- to 34-year-olds, respectively, representing 41.0% and 15.4% of people in Cedar Riverside.[8]

The neighborhood's overall population has risen at a moderate but steady rate, from 6,368 in 1990 to 7,545 in 2000 to 8,094 in 2010.[8]

The median household income could not be tabulated for the 2005-2009 period due to large error margins. However, it was $18,543 in 1999.[8]


Crime statistics released by the Minneapolis Police Department for all of its neighborhoods indicate that between January and May 2012, Cedar Riverside had 134 instances of vice, mainly consisting of various forms of theft. Only one homicide was reported over this period. The neighborhood's statistics were comparable to the city-wide average, and were a fraction of those of the neighborhood with the highest reported number of incidents, Downtown West.[9]

Overall, according to police, crime peaked in the period between 2002 and 2006, and has steadily declined in the following 5 years. By 2011, instances of serious crime had dropped a reported 40%.[10]

The improvement in security has been attributed to a more active police presence in the area, with officers working closely with local community organizations and residents to keep the peace.[10]


The neighborhood has been a port of entry for immigrants since Swedes, Germans, and Bohemians began arriving in large numbers during the late 19th century. Cedar Avenue became a hub of the Minneapolis Scandinavian community in the late 1800s. Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish were spoken in many of the businesses, and in the early days, stars of Swedish American vaudeville entertained at Dania Hall, Mozart Hall and The Southern Theater.

Samuelson's Confectionery 1890

There was Samuelsen’s confectionery and soda shop, Hagen's appliance store, Moberg’s Norwegian deli, and a host of other Scandinavian-owned businesses. On Cedar Avenue was Dania Hall, where the Danish community would meet. An eclectic mix of Gothic and classical styles, the building included a dining hall and kitchen in the basement, commercial space on the first floor, offices for the Society of Dania plus billiard and reading rooms on the second floor. A theater/assembly hall on the third and fourth floors featured Scandinavian vaudeville acts and weekend dances. On the corner next to Dania Hall was the Breezy Point Tavern owned by Oscar Carlsen, a Norwegian immigrant from the turn of the 20th century. Oscar had come to Minnesota working in the lumber camps.

Where men in the community once worked in small businesses, or as skilled tradesmen, and workers for the railroad, flour mills, and breweries, Cedar-Riverside declined as a core community in the 1920s due to the impact of Prohibition on the entertainment district. Into the 1940s, Cedar-Riverside remained heavily Scandinavian. Postwar immigrants from all over Eastern Europe then settled in the area. The junction of Washington Avenue, Cedar Avenue, and 19th Avenue was known as Seven Corners. The Cedar-Riverside area had been known as "Snoose Boulevard" (Snusgatan) because so many Scandinavians lived there.[11]

The West Bank, with the locally infamous Seven Corners district, mouldered into a skid row scene in the 1950s. In the mid-to-late 1960s, the area became the center of the University-oriented counterculture and antiwar movement. It was home to local hippies, protesters, and other anti-establishment groups between the 1960s and early 1970s. During those days, the neighborhood was known as the "Haight-Ashbury of the Midwest."[7]

The West Bank was home to McCosh's secondhand book store, a center for Beat and Hippie left-leaning bookworms, and later Things, probably the first head shop in the Twin Cities, which sold counterculture curios, anti-war buttons and posters, incense and drug paraphernalia. Marijuana, hashish and LSD were readily available in the area after about 1967. A community of hippies — and numerous students and hangers-on who emulated the hippie lifestyle (at least on weekends) — lived in old rental houses in the area and congregated at coffeehouses, such as the Extemporé, The Scholar and the Broken Drum, and at bars, such as the Triangle Bar, the Viking, Caesar's, The Mixers and the Music Bar. (The latter burned down the night Robert Kennedy was assassinated, and eventually was replaced by a "people's park"). The Triangle often featured performers and recording artists Dave Ray, Tony Glover and John Koerner, who had associated to some degree with Bob Dylan during his brief Minneapolis sojourn.

The towers of Riverside Plaza

In 1973, the Riverside Plaza apartment complex was opened. Designed by architect and Cedar-Riverside resident Ralph Rapson, the tall buildings with their signature colored panels are a Minneapolis landmark and were featured as the residence of Mary Richards in later seasons of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Many of the businesses that were established during that time — Martha's Antiques, the Whale Leather Shop, the Five Corners Saloon, Richter's Drug Store and Smith's Leather Shop — eventually went out of business, gradually giving way to newer stores and shops. However, the old Depth of Field remains.

The neighborhood's past still has an influence in the present. Some of the businesses in the area harken back to an earlier time, like the worker-controlled punk hangout, Hard Times Café and the now-closed North Country Food Co-Op. In fact, some of the businesses, specifically in the Seven Corners district, use the history to promote their own business, such as the "Legend of the Seven Switchmen."

Fairview Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital figured prominently in the neighborhood, being only a few blocks away. Fairview and St. Mary's, which merged in 1986, later merged with the University of Minnesota Hospitals, forming a major medical complex straddling the Mississippi River. The organization is now known as University of Minnesota Medical Center.

Arts culture

Acadia Cafe 2012

Cedar-Riverside is home to a thriving arts culture. There are many playhouses and theatre groups in the area, including the Mixed Blood Theatre Company, Theatre in the Round, and The Southern Theater. There is also a percolating music scene, with musicians frequenting venues like The Cedar Cultural Center, The Triple Rock Social Club, The Cabooze, The Red Sea, The Nomad World Pub, Acadia Cafe, and Palmer's .

Additionally, the West Bank music scene is known as a catalyst for major musicians such as Bonnie Raitt, Leo Kottke, Butch Thompson (Jazz Originals), Peter Ostroushko (Prairie Home Companion), Dave "Snaker" Ray (Koerner, Ray & Glover), Erik Anderson (The Wallets), Sean Blackburn (Prairie Home Companion), Bill Hinkley (Minnesota Music Hall of Fame), Karen Mueller (Autoharp Hall of Fame), and, to a lesser extent, Bob Dylan.

Many of these musicians also taught, performed and/or jammed at the West Bank School of Music. The Cedar Cultural Center, Cafe Extempore, Scholar Coffeehouse, New Riverside Cafe, Viking Bar, 400 Bar, 7 Corners, Whisky Junction, Cabooze and Cedarfest have likewise all been popular music venues in their time. Established in 1978, KFAI community radio has broadcast a mix of community talk radio and folk and avant-garde music from around the world from the Bailey building since 1991.

The arts flavor of the area is enhanced by the presence of Augsburg College and the University of Minnesota's West Bank Arts Quarter, which is home to the University’s arts programs.

Cedar Riverside also plays host to the annual Zombie Pub Crawl.[12] In the 2005 the Minneapolis Zombie Pub Crawl began with about 100 participants.[12] In 2011 Cedar Riverside hosted approximately 18,000 individuals for the seventh annual zombie pub crawl.[12]

Notable establishments

Alleyway entrance to KFAI

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cedar-Riverside, Minneapolis.


  1. "Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis, Minnesota (MN), 55454, 55455 detailed profile". City-Data. 2011. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
  2. "Minneapolis Neighborhood Profile: Cedar Riverside" (PDF). Minnesota Compass. October 2011. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
  3. 1 2 3 "Cedar-Riverside - Location and General Characteristics". City of Minneapolis. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  4. "State of the City: Investing to Grow". Mayor R.T. Rybak. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  5. "Cedar Riverside - About the West Bank". Retrieved 2009-04-22.
  6. "Translating Health Care - Video Library - The New York Times". Retrieved 2009-04-22.
  7. 1 2 Stoecker, Randy (1994). Defending Community: The Struggle for Alternative Redevelopment in Cedar-Riverside. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press. p. 8. ISBN 1-56639-128-8.
  8. 1 2 3 4 "Minneapolis neighborhood profile - Cedar Riverside" (PDF). Minneapolis Compas. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  9. Minneapolis Neighborhood Crime Statistics,Minneapolis July 9, 2012
  10. 1 2 Stocks, Anissa (26 October 2011). "Crime rates drop in Cedar-Riverside". Minnesota Daily. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  11. Seward Profile April 2005.
  12. 1 2 3 Riemenschneider, Chris. "Zombie Pub Crawl VII: A Terror of Two Cities.". Vita.MN. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  13. The Electric Fetus on Cedar Avenue. placeography.org. Retrieved: September 9, 2012.

Further reading


The New Riverside Cafe


Book and CD

Online book

45. The Cedar-Riverside Area
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