Nokomis East History

Before 1900, our community’s current location was a major American Indian center and until 1880 an American Indian village was located between Lake Nokomis and Lake Hiawatha in the vicinity of the current Nokomis Community Center.

Minnehaha Park, located just outside Nokomis East, played an important role in the development of the area by drawing thousands of visitors to view its natural beauty. Because of the large number of visitors to the area, rail transit and a depot were established near the neighborhood as early as 1865.

A number of neighborhood landmarks were in place by 1930, including:

  • Longfellow Zoological Gardens (1890)
  • Twin Cities Motor Speedway (1916) – Current site of the MSP Airport
  • Lake Nokomis Bath House on the main beach (1920)
  • Nokomis Junior High (1920) – Current site of the Nokomis Square Co-op
  • Veteran’s Bureau Hospital (1927)
  • Keewaydin School & Park (1927) – Formerly known and Alexander Ramsey School
  • Bob’s Barber Shop (1928)

Our neighborhood developed before others due to the availability of streetcar routes and rail lines. Aiding in the development were the parklands along Minnehaha Falls, Minnehaha Creek and Lake Nokomis (formerly named Lake Amelia).

The majority of single-family houses were built between 1920 and 1960 with a building boom during the 1920s and 1940s. Single-family homes make up 77% of Nokomis East units with an additional 5.2% as duplexes and triplexes. The remainder of units are multi-family buildings. The Bossen area apartment buildings were built in the 1960’s.

Racial covenants are a part of the history of Nokomis East. Covenants were tools used by real estate developers in the 19th and 20th century to prevent people of color from buying or occupying property. To learn more, visit Mapping Prejudice and use the interactive Minneapolis property map.

Today, 80% of the home units are owner-occupied and 20% rental – compared to 51% rental for Minneapolis as a whole. And 34% of Nokomis East households are considered cost-burdened.

Our main transportation corridors are the neighborhood boundaries: Cedar Avenue, 34th and 28th Avenues, 50th and 54th Streets, Hiawatha Avenue (Highway 55), and Crosstown Highway 62. Natural resources in a convenient urban setting are the hallmark of the Nokomis East area. Lake Nokomis, our western boundary, offers beauty and recreation for the entire metro area. On our northern boundary, the picturesque Minnehaha Parkway and Creek provide tranquil vistas and unspoiled beauty. Public transportation provides light rail and bus service to downtown, shopping amenities like the Mall of America and Southdale,  and the Minneapolis VA Health Care System.

Local residents can find most of their consumer needs in the neighborhood. Our major shopping district on 34h Avenue between 50th and 54th Streets is home to the Nokomis (55417) branch of the U.S. Post Office, the Nokomis branch of the Hennepin County Libraries, two banks, a grocery store and a variety of other businesses. Business also thrives in other commercial “pockets” throughout the neighborhood. We are proud of our local business association, the Nokomis East Business Association (NEBA), which promotes a sense of community through businesses.

There are two Minneapolis Public School buildings within our boundaries. Both are part of the K-8, Lake Nokomis Community School: the Keewaydin (upper) and Wenonah (lower) campuses. A third building, the former Morris Park Elementary, is now operated by Hiawatha Leadership Academy, a charter school. Two regional parks (Minnehaha and Lake Nokomis), and three neighborhood parks, (Bossen Field, Keewaydin and Morris Park) provide recreation and educational programming for all age groups. Seven churches serve residents of various denominations.

While a few non-profit agencies, including NENA serve our residents, we do not have a major social service presence in our neighborhoods.

A history of community activism spurred by an appreciation for natural beauty and a zeal to maintain a high standard of living is evident in the neighborhood. Several neighborhood wins include:

  1. Nokomis East Light Rail Transit Station Area Plan
  2. 34th Avenue Reconstruction Project
  3. Negotiated with the Metropolitan Airports Commission to limit noise and install sound insulation in Nokomis East properties
  4. Senior Housing Projects – Nokomis Square Cooperative and Riverview Senior Housing
  5. Affordable and ADA-Compliant Rental Housing – Diamond Hills Townhomes
  6. Affordable Housing for Homeless Families – Minnehaha Townhomes
  7. Lake Nokomis Blue Water Commission
  8. Nokomis Naturescape Garden – Transforming four acres of lawn into pollinator habitat
  9. Minneapolis Monarch Festival
  10. Preventing the closure of the Keewaydin and Wenonah Public Schools
  11. Preventing the closure of the Nokomis branch of the Hennepin County Libraries
  12. Bossen Field Master Plan – Preserving playing fields for community members

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