Before 1900, our neighborhood 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.
A history of political activism, spurred by an appreciation for natural beauty and a zeal to maintain a high standard of living, is evident in the neighborhood. 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. In the 1920s, local residents who were concerned with the aesthetics of the Longfellow Gardens Zoo pressured Fish Jones to remove his privately owned zoo and eventually transfer the property to the Park Board. Bossen Field was developed in 1950 from the last working farm in Minneapolis.
Our main transportation corridors are the neighborhood boundaries: Cedar Avenue, 34th and 28th Avenues, 50th and 54th Streets, Hwy 55 (Hiawatha Avenue), 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, the Mall of America and the VA Hospital.
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 active Minneapolis Public School buildings within our boundaries. Both are part of the new, K-8, Lake Nokomis Community School: the Keewaydin (upper) and Wenonah (lower) campuses. A third building, the former Morris Park Elementary, is now owned by Hiawatha Leadership Academy, a charter school. Two regional parks (Minnehaha and Lake Nokomis), and three neighborhood parks, (Keewaydin, Bossen Field 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.
Our housing stock is relatively good and stable. However, as the neighborhood gentrifies, a large population of seniors on fixed incomes are unable to keep up with home maintenance and repairs. Substandard housing makes up about 6% of total housing structures and is more prevalent among non-homestead properties. We are proud of our landlords’ association, the Bossen Area Rental Coalition. The majority of single-family houses were built between 1920 and 1960 with a building boom during the 1920s and 1940s. 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.
Residents have negotiated with the Metropolitan Airports Commission to limit noise and sound insulate properties in the neighborhood. In contrast with the urban decay surrounding airports in most large cities, our active citizens have been able to keep the neighborhood bordering the airport vibrant and attractive. Pride of ownership is evident in the lawns and gardens.
The planned development along the Hiawatha/Highway 55 corridor and airport noise are a few of the issues that significantly impact our neighborhood. These issues have shaped the planning process of our Full Plan.