Elliot Park Neighborhood
Elliot Park is one of the oldest neighborhood communities in Minneapolis. It began in the 1850’s as one of the settlements that emerged around the Falls of St. Anthony on the Mississippi River. Its proximity to the industries that were built up around the Falls made it popular for Swedish immigrants who were drawn to this area. Sections of Elliot Park along 8th Street were platted for the building of houses, stores, and churches as early as 1856, only four years after the founding of Minneapolis.
The late 1870’s and 1880’s saw important developments in the neighborhood. Cottage Hospital opened on 6th St. and this began to establish Elliot Park as one of the leading medical areas of the city. (Read more about the history of Elliot Park’s healthcare and social services: Elliot Park~A Neighborhood Caring for Its Community). The area’s first public school, Madison, was also established in the neighborhood on Portland Avenue.
In 1893, the neighborhood gained its most prominent landmark when Dr. Joseph Elliot, an area physician, donated his farmland to the city. This land is now Elliot Park. Another land donation created Franklin Steele Park — Creating two of the earliest parks in the City. The land area around Elliot Park was named after its generous donor and the name remains the community’s designation today.
By the 1890’s the rapid growth of Downtown, and the fact that Elliot Park was the only Downtown neighborhood with its own parks, made it a fashionable area to live in. Large mansions sprang up along Park Avenue. The area changed, however, as Minneapolis grew rapidly between 1900 and 1920. Rising land values began to spur the construction of apartment buildings. High-density apartment buildings were built near downtown and Elliot Park became an area of brick and stone three story apartments with a burgeoning commercial area along Chicago Avenue. Some of these new apartment buildings, such as the Rappahannock condominiums and the Roselle apartments, are now among the oldest residential buildings in the Twin Cities.
After 1920, population growth began to slow down and then declined during the Depression of the 1930’s. The abundance of high-density housing made Elliot Park a haven for working class and low-income residents. Many of the stately mansions of the 1890’s were converted to multi-family dwellings. Then in the 1950’s and 1960’s the rapid expansion of the Twin Cities suburban areas had an adverse impact on many inner-city neighborhoods when new roadways were built to transport people more efficiently throughout the metro area. Residential sectors at the eastern and southern edges of Elliot Park were demolished for Interstates 94 and 35W. Freeway construction in the 1960’s also displaced numerous area businesses, substantially changing the neighborhood’s character. Between 1950 and 1970, the population of Elliot Park dropped by 54%, highlighting the trend toward disinvestment in inner-city neighborhoods.
Community revitalization began in earnest in the 1980’s as the community organization, Elliot Park Neighborhood, Inc. (EPNI), set up the Neighborhood Improvement Company (NIC). The NIC renovated or built over 500 units including housing for seniors and Section 8 renters, as well as moderate-income co-ops and condominiums. Elliot East condominiums and Old-Town-In-Town (an equity co-op) were beautifully restored and protected as a housing resource. A new recreation center was built and dedicated in Elliot Park in 1984. Catholic Charities opened a drop-in center offering hospitality and other services for the neighborhood’s more needy members. In the mid-1980’s Dolly’s Bar, a longtime neighborhood nuisance, was closed down because of neighborhood organizing and was replaced with Buri Manor, one of several properties built or rehabilitated in the area by Central Community Housing Trust (now Aeon) since 1985.
The Ninth Street Historic District was designated in the mid-1980’s to further protect and preserve the significant historic texture and distinctive architectural features in the neighborhood. The district consists of residential structures located along sections of Ninth and Tenth Streets. These historic buildings were all built between 1886 and 1915 and are among the oldest apartment buildings in Minneapolis. One of the Ninth Street row-houses has the distinction of being John Paul Getty’s birthplace. Two neighborhood gems are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: The First Church of Christ, Scientist on 15th Street and the Hinkle-Murphy mansion located at 619 South 10th Street. Another historic structure, the Band Box Restaurant, located at the corner of 10th Street and 14th Street, has undergone significant rehabilitation and is recognized as a Minneapolis historic landmark.
Lenox Flats and the Sexton building were converted into condominium units which reflected a significant shift in the neighborhood demographic, promising to bring new residential vitality and resources to Elliot Park. Increasing the residential demographics, including more residential ownership opportunities, increases the potential to recruit businesses and services back into the neighborhood. Today the neighborhood continues to grow and residents and employees alike are working together to revitalize the neighborhood and to improve the quality of life for all who live and work here. New volunteers are welcome to get involved and to participate in meetings and project work of Elliot Park Neighborhood, Inc.
Elliot Park Neighborhood continues to be home to a number of large institutions including North Central University, Augustana Care Corporation, Park Elder, Hennepin County Medical Center and Benedictine Health Center. There are also a number of active churches in the neighborhood: Bethlehem Baptist, Augustana Lutheran, Bethesda Baptist, First Covenant, Hope Community and The Wells at 7th Street plus Central Lutheran and Gethesame just across our western border. There are also a number of social service providers and organizations who continue to meet the needs of the diverse neighborhood population: Aeon, Minnesota Teen Challenge, Minnesota AIDS Project, House of Charity, Catholic Charities-Branch III and RS Eden.
Elliot Park’s demographics, as reported in the 2000 U.S. Census, showed substantial growth in population and diversity. According to the 2000 Census, Elliot Park is home to 6,476 people, a 14 percent increase from 1990. The median age for residents is 29.8 years, with over one-third of the neighborhood’s population between the ages of 20 and 35. Approximately 20 percent of Elliot Park residents are under 19 years of age, and of the 2685 total households in the neighborhood, 286 have children under the age of 18. About 15 percent of Elliot Park residents are 55 years or older. In 1990, 25 percent of the neighborhood’s population was in this age group.
Elliot Park is among the most racially and culturally diverse neighborhoods in the City. Just over half (55 percent) of Elliot Park residents identify themselves as White or Caucasian; nearly 40 percent identify themselves as Black or African-American. This latter figure represents an 89 percent increase from the 1990 Census and many are immigrants from Somalia and other East African nations. Elliot Park also posted a substantial gain in its population of Hispanic or Latino residents, from 278 in 1990 to 500 in 2000.
The median household income reported in the 2000 census for Elliot Park’s residents is about half that of the Metro-wide median, although this statistic can be deceiving. Because many residents of the neighborhood are seniors, “income” is not necessarily a measure of their wealth. The same can be said for the student population of North Central University. The poverty level reported in 2000 for Elliot Park was 38 percent, compared to a city-wide 17 percent. Actually, the neighborhood’s poverty rate declined 3 percent between 1979 and 1999, while the City’s overall poverty rate increased by 3 percent during that period.
Despite the significant growth in population, the number of housing units in the neighborhood declined from 3,528 in 1990 to 2,859 in 2000. However, the housing vacancy rate decreased 76.4 percent, from 736 units in 1990 to 174 units in 2000. Over 96 percent of Elliot Park residents live in rental housing, and the rental vacancy rate in the neighborhood fell from 18.84 percent in 1990 to 4.84 percent in 2000.
These numbers will see a significant turn with the 2010 census as they do not reflect the increased residency and home ownership opportunities of the Grant Park, Skyscape, Sexton and Lennox projects which are all new since 2000.