The History Of Eat Street

by Amy Rea

Earlier this month, the Hennepin History Museum in Minneapolis opened a new exhibit focused on the history of Eat Street, Eat Street 20: In Their Own Words. Eat Street is the several-block stretch along Nicollet Avenue that is home to more than 50 restaurants, with cuisines representing a wide variety of places around the world: Malaysia, Germany, China, Mexico, Jamaica–they’re all here.

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Photo by Amy Rea

The exhibit has several hands-on aspects that make it appealing for young visitors, and it’s a great way to explore the range Eat Street offers.

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Photo by Amy Rea

Eat Street initially got off to a rough start when the city closed off part of Nicollet and allowed a KMart to be built. The stretch north of the KMart became, to put it mildly, dodgy; crime was rampant, with drug dealers and prostitutes openly conducting business on the street. To restore the neighborhood, the Whittier Alliance was formed to take back the neighborhood, and in 1997 the organization debuted the branding plan called Eat Street.

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Photo by Amy Rea

Photos of present and bygone eateries are cleverly framed in menus.

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Photo by Amy Rea

A wide variety of spices lines a map of the world, which visitors can use to locate where those spices are heavily used, giving a detailed look at the makeup of restaurants on Eat Street.

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Photo by Amy Rea

There are also several restaurants spotlighted along with items from their kitchens, including this wood tortilla press from Marissa’s Bakery, or this well-used wok from Rainbow Chinese.

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Photo by Amy Rea

Part of the exhibit is an oral history, which includes recordings and transcripts from several Eat Street proprietors, documenting the times and changes they’ve seen on Eat Street. All in all, a worthy exhibit and record of a now-vibrant part of Minneapolis.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.

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