FREE SPEECH ZONE | Lake Street

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          Lake Street is a vibrant artery traveling from old to new, entwining a coalescence of culture. It represents modern progress bathed in rich tradition. Located in the heart of Southern Minneapolis, Lake Street is the epitome of modernity built upon diversity. In the midst of this contemporary, heterogeneous place, one would think that the community would be quite separated. In fact, the opposite is true. Lake Street gives proof of a tight knit community built upon a modern setting and exemplifies the blending of cultures while still retaining their specific identities.

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          Some towns begin as farm fields and remain as little more than farm fields. Other towns grow into bustling cities and lose their past. Lake Street is one of the few areas that was able to advance as well as retain its rich history within its modern streets. Lake Street began as a country road winding between grain fields. It has now evolved into a lively hub of culture. The modern community of Lake Street is expressed through commercial life, buildings, artwork and most of all, its accessibility. Lake Street is a teeming avenue with many shops and savory restaurants from all over the world. The shops on Lake Street cover a wide range. Walking down the street there are markets, drugstores, clothing shops, barbershops and countless other retails. A resident of Lake Street has everything one would need to live. Locals do not need to travel outside of Lake Street to survive. Storeowners depend upon their regular customers as the customers depend on storeowners to have what they need. This commercial accessibility and dependence verifies the strong sense of community present. Another way in which the community is preserved through modernization is the use of buildings. An example of this is the Midtown Global Market. This newly developed cultural market brings people together from all over the world and has a very new-age feel; yet, an old Sears department store occupied the space years ago. The preservation of old buildings keeps the history of the community alive. Modern and traditional pieces of artwork also brighten up the neighborhood and bring the community together by portraying past struggles. Finally, the accessible, modernized transportation along Lake Street brings the community together more than anything. Since Lake Street is very easy to get to, it attracts many different social and ethnic groups. The multiple bus stops along the main road connect the community and bring together people from countless backgrounds. The modern community of Lake Street can clearly be seen through its commercial life, buildings, artwork and most importantly, its accessible transportation.

          Not only does Lake Street’s community thrive in its modern streets, but also through the interactions between the diversified population and their usage of common space. Traveling on the bus up to Lake Street, there were many stops where people would get on and off. As we traveled nearer to Lake Street, I noticed that the ethnic diversity increased. All of these different lives and customs were converging within a community. The essence of community did not come so much from the mixing of these groups, but the daily interactions between people and the small space that these groups were sharing. Three aspects that showed the mixing of culture within the Lake Street community were clothing stores, community celebrations and most of all, the restaurants. Walking down the street, we passed a quinciñera dress shop and as we continued down to the Midtown Global Market, we walked through a store selling saris. This example proves how extremely diverse cultures can coexist within the same community. After traveling to Lake Street, I was curious to find out more about it. A search on the Internet brought me to Visit Lake Street USA. Some of the listed community celebrations were the May Day parade, Mexican Independence Day celebration and the Uptown Art Fair. The cultural differences between these celebrations proved that the citizens of Lake Street felt no strict boundaries between theirs and other’s lifestyles. Most importantly, the restaurants of Lake Street demonstrated the contrasting ethnic groups existing within a shared community. Walking for about five minutes down the street you could pass the Mercado Central, Somalian businesses and Scandinavian shops. Walking through the Mercado Central was like walking through a market in Mexico. All writing on products and signs was in Spanish. Many of the vendors could not even speak English. This magnificent pocket of culture was surprising to see when just a short walk away was a Scandinavian deli called Ingebretsen’s, a business started in 1921 by an immigrant from Norway. Whether it be stores of traditional ethnic dress, community celebrations, or restaurants, the ethnic diversity of Lake Street shows how different groups can fully express their identity and also retain a strong community.

          Lake Street demonstrates its tight knit community built upon a modern setting and exemplifies the blending of cultures while still retaining their specific identities. The modern community of Lake Street is expressed through commercial life, buildings, artwork and most of all, its accessibility. Even though Lake Street is evolving into a very modern area of town, the neighborhood has not lost its deep-rooted culture and tradition. Clothing stores, community celebrations and most importantly, the restaurants portrayed the diversity of culture bringing a community together. Lake Street is a new and developing artery of life fused from many separate strings of lineage and customs. It is a community.