Welcome to Central Neighborhood of Minneapolis!
Central is a fusion of diverse residents who are passionate and committed to the positive growth of this beloved and historic neighborhood. Central is a place where business continues to grow, while the residential area offers many great places to call home. We have green spaces to walk, an engaged community and good schools.
Check out the Live and Learn Project video to see a lot of great community members talk about how they view Central and the community that brings it to life.
Central neighborhood is originally named after Minneapolis Central High School. Built in 1913, it was one of the city’s largest schools located at the intersection of 4th Ave and 34th Street. It closed in 1982 and was demolished but the site is now home to Central Gym Park and Green Central
Central Neighborhood’s boundaries are defined by Lake St to the north, 38th St to the south, 2nd Ave to the west, and Chicago Ave to the east.
As CANDO’s predecessor, Central Neighborhood Involvement Association (CNIA) had a long and until a big bump in the road at the end very successful history. This organization was formed in 1995 to represent the entire Central Neighborhood and to administer nearly 6 million dollars in Neighborhood Revitalization (NRP) funds. CNIA staff and volunteers orchestrated a massive grassroots organizing effort resulting in a highly detailed Action Plan that was approved by the NRP board and City of Minneapolis. The basic concept behind NRP was that neighborhoods could best determine how funds should be spent in their own communities. Programs were divided into Community Building, Business and Economic Development, Housing and City Services, Youth and Family. Among dozens of important projects CNIA funded the Boy’s and Girl’s Club move to Phelps Park, the Learning Tech Center at Hosmer Library and Urban Ventures East Soccer Field. CNIA partnered with James Ford Bell Foundation on the Central “Initiative”, which provided employment opportunities, training and leadership training for staff and board members. Bell grants also provided funding for general support for CNIA (so NRP funds could go directly to neighborhood programs) and money for block clubs.
NRP funding also went to the “Central Youth Initiative”. Funds supported Hosmer Library, Urban Ventures, Central Babysitting Club, The Ebony Phoenix Project, Freeport West, Sabathani Life Skills, Boys an Girls Club and We Win Institute.
Despite these successes and partnerships, CNIA experienced a take-over of the board and organization in 2000, by the self identified “Blue Crew”. With accusations of racism and gentrification against the current CNIA board and staff, a complete board takeover occurred during a single chaotic meeting. The new CNIA group did not have a successful tenure. The organization lost funding from the James Ford Bell Foundation, support from the McKnight Foundation, and was eventually shut down by the city of Minneapolis. Among many concerns was the inability of the recognized CNIA to return funds to the James Ford Bell Foundation, which pulled long term support, and it’s inability to pass an audit.
The Central Neighborhood History
Central has a long history of diversity. As early as the mid 19th century, African Americans were moving into the area that became Central. Among them were the family members and followers of William C. Goodridge.
Goodridge and his wife Evalina ran the Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania in the 1850s. In his case, the Railroad actually ran on tracks. Not only did he ship human cargo to safe haven in Canada, he owned the trains and railroad cars that hid them. Born in 1806, the son of a slave woman and a white father, he earned his freedom at age 16. He quickly became an influential businessman in York, Penn. while hiding his status as a key player in the Underground Railroad. (www.goodridgefreedomhouse.com)
Goodridge owned 25 commercial and residential properties in York, which served their apparent purpose, but also contained hidden rooms. Even Goodridge’s own home (now a museum on the National Register of Historic Places) contained a large hidden room directly under the kitchen. Word of kidnapping/murder plot drove him to Minneapolis to live with his daughter Emily and her husband Ralph Grey in St. Anthony. The Greys had been in Minnesota since the 1850s and were themselves key leaders in the Underground Railroad and abolitionist movement. (www.paquestforfreedom.com)
As one of the most prominent African American men of his generation, Goodridge helped draw a population of politically-active, highly-educated African American citizens to Minneapolis. Many settled in St. Anthony and Central neighborhoods. Goodridge is buried in the Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery on East Lake St. The founders of that cemetery, Martin and Elizabeth Layman, were members of the First Baptist Church, which was a gathering place for abolitionists, and the cemetery was never segregated. This was a strong statement (“Cemetery ties to Minnesota Anti-Slavery Movement, “Thursday August 28th, 2011,
During the first quarter of the 20th century, immigrants flocked to Minneapolis to work in it’s lumber industry, flour mills, and railroads. Much of the Central neighborhood was built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Prominent architects designed and built fanciful Queen Anne houses, gifting Central with one of the largest numbers of intact, Victorian residential architecture in the country. These magnificent residences continue to draw old-house lovers to the neighborhood to purchase, restore and live in these gracious homes. Once available only to the wealthy, these homes are now affordable, and are calling new residents to the neighborhood.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Park Avenue in Minneapolis far surpassed St. Paul’s Summit Avenue with it’s opulent mansions, parks and gardens. It was also a place for big parades.
The Central neighborhood was named for Central High School. The City’s first Central High – circa 1890 – was called Central Union High School and was located at 11th St an 3rd Ave S. It was destroyed by a fire in 1863. The Central High School the neighborhood took it’s name from was built in 1913 and torn down in the 1980s. It was located on 4th Ave S between 34th St and 35th St where Green Central Elementary stands today.
During World War II and after, the Central Neighborhood continued to attract African American families. Many African American churches and other important institutions serving the community began at this time and continue to this day. Here is 4th Ave and 38th St in the 1960s. (Photo: MN History Center)
The former business hub at 38th St and 4th Ave still houses The Minneapolis Spokesman Recorder (which began publishing in 1934 and moved to it’s new building in 1956) and the Minneapolis Urban League at 411 E 38th St. Sabathani Community Center has occupied the old Bryant Junior High school building since 1979.
The Central Neighborhood Today
The 1990s saw the beginnings of burgeoning Latino population in Central Neighborhood. Dozens of Latino owned businesses began to open along Lake St, contributing immensely to the new vitality of this bustling business stretch. As of the last year Latinos made up the largest group in Central Neighborhood, at 44% of Central’s population. Next were African Americans at 25% and Caucasians at 21%. From 2000 to 2010, the African American population in Central dropped by more then 1,200 while the Latino population rose 1,800.
This demographic shift will present new opportunity and challenges for CANDO as a neighborhood organization, especially since many of our new residents are Spanish speaking.
Even more recently the area has seen a significant wave of immigrants. Many refugees from war-torn areas of Africa (including a large Somali contingent) or have come from Southeast Asia and Latin America.
Central neighborhood is also home to a large number of LGBTQIAP residents, as well as several important LGBTQIAP institutions serving Central residents, including All God’s Children at Park Ave and 31st St, and Out Front Minnesota is located in the Sabathani Community Center. Out Front is a non-profit providing leadership in moving the state towards the elimination of homophobia and full equality for the LGBT community.
To see an infographic illustrating Central’s demographics as of the 2010 census, click here.