In the 1950s Lake Street was the Boulevard of Broken Dreams. There were used car lots, bowling alleys and drive-ins up and down Lake Street. It was the favored pastime of high school students to “tool” up and down Lake Street on a Friday night to show off their latest modifications to their”set of wheels.”
A long period of decay hit Lake Street from the late 1960s right up to the turn of the 21st Century. Then, new immigrants brought new life to Lake Street. Somali and Latin businesses started slowly, and soon there were no more vacant and boarded storefronts. In one of the most difficult economic times we’ve seen since the Great Depression, Lake Street seems to be thriving. It’s been wonderful that the City of Minneapolis has invested so much in restoring and rehabilitating the Sears building, but the economic transformation of Lake Street was taking place before that happened.
There are some great businesses that have remained through the 50 years of doldrums: Ingebretsen’s still caters to a Scandinavian (and Scandinavian-curious) clientele; Robert’s Shoes still says “Hardly a foot we can’t fit”; Hirshfield’s is still a great place to buy paint; and Falconer’s Dry Cleaning and Laundry is just about the last dry cleaner still standing.
These businesses (with second and third generation family members now in control) have been joined by new blood coursing through the major commercial artery of South Minneapolis. You can feel the new energy at the Mercado Central and La Que Buena Restaurant.
Viva Lake Street! Lake Street lives!