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RIVER LIFE

TBT: The Mississippi River Gorge as “natural”

There is a growing buzz about making the Mississippi River Gorge in Minneapolis more “natural.”  It’s certainly a fine idea to talk about and plan for restoration of some features and dynamics that the river had at this place in the past.  But we should not rely on a static concept of “nature,” in large part because “nature” simply isn’t static.  So “restoration” of any dynamic system like a river requires close attention to the complex question: Restoration to what condition?

With these ideas in mind, here are some images from the gorge, each of which shows it before the installation of the Ford dam.

Lake St. Bridge looking upstream c 1888

The Lake Street bridge is in the foreground of this image, which is oriented to look upstream.  The metadata for the image lists it as being taken around 1888, although the inscription on the right above the bridge says “1883-4.” The very shallow water conditions, illustrated by expansive mud flats, indicate the time of year is probably autumn.

Image source Minnesota Historical Society.


old Franklin Ave br and Meeker Is. 1900

If the metadata/caption for this 1900 photograph is correct, the orientation of the shot is downstream, with the Franklin Avenue Bridge in the foreground and Meeker Island in the middle distance.  The rapids around the island, however, appear to indicate the water is flowing toward the camera.  Any historically-minded river rats out there have a good read on this image and which way the river is flowing?

Image source Minnesota Historical Society.


parkway postcard 1910

The part of this postcard image that strikes me the most is the caption: “A view of the Mississippi River between the Twin Cities Minn.”  At the time this card was made, around 1910, the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul had not yet physically grown into one contiguous urban space.  The Mississippi River gorge served as a semi-wild “natural” space between the two urban industrial centers, each then at the height of its regional importance as milling and shipping centers.

Image source Minnesota Historical Society.

“Building Inclusive and Sustainable Relationships with the Mississippi River”

A persistent challenge to our River Life program have been the questions: what exactly do you folks DO?  What questions do you ask? What impact do you have?

To some extent, the persistence of these questions is a good thing.  At universities, we get to explore complex matters, and go where the shifts in conversations take us.  By contrast, our partners off campus are limited by their organization’s mission, or by funding, or by expectations of the public.  They can move around a little bit, but the Minnesota Historical Society ought to keep dealing with Minnesota’s past, and the National Park Service really needs to be focused on qualities that make this stretch of the river unique, and bringing those qualities to the public nationally as well as here at home.

Our job, on the other hand, is to think differently than our partners.  Not having responsibility for public programs, or for stewardship of public lands, we can tend to our main businesses, which are educating the public, particularly young people, and developing new knowledge.  In both of these areas–education and research–River Life takes very seriously our charge to conduct our work in collaboration with partners from off campus, as well as forging interdisciplinary relationships on campus.

So what is our area of study?  We look at how we–the university, our partners, our communities–can build more inclusive and sustainable relationships with the Mississippi River.  Our focus is necessarily somewhat parochial; our partners, after all, are responsible for lands and waters here, in the Twin Cities metro area.  Furthermore, the Twin Cities region is a great “laboratory” to understand the development and function of complex urban water systems.

But our focus necessarily has to widen out to include the watershed of our “home river,” and a consideration of the river and its communities as they live downstream, absorbing what we have done to the river here. Moreover, we learn a lot about conditions and circumstances and possibilities here by understanding conditions, circumstances, and possibilities elsewhere, across the country and around the world.

Sounds simple: building sustainable and inclusive relationships with the Mississippi River.  But I have a feeling this work will keep us busy for a while.

Fort Snelling and Hidden Falls Park from Two Rivers Overlook.

Fort Snelling and Hidden Falls Park from Two Rivers Overlook.

A Sip of Science–The St Anthony Lock Has Closed, So How Is the River Doing?

May 9, 2016Patrick NunnallyEvents, Featured, Former Featured Posts, Program & AnnouncementsComments Off on A Sip of Science–The St Anthony Lock Has Closed, So How Is the River Doing?

This Wednesday May 11, A Sip of Science will feature a University of Minnesota graduate student reporting on a nearly-complete “literature review” and baseline assessment of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.  We know the Corps of Engineers will not be dredging the former navigation channel, but how will the river’s water quality, aquatic ecology, and sediment systems respond?  We have to know where we are now to understand future changes, so the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources awarded a grant to the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership to examine existing data on this stretch of the Mississippi and conduct very limited new studies.

Come to the Aster Cafe at 5:30 on Wednesday to hear Jane Mazack, a Ph.D. candidate in Water Resource Science at the U of M, report on the study.

More details below:

A SIP OF SCIENCE –
The lock is closed: what are the keys to river health?

Jane Mazack, PhD Candidate in Water Resources Science, University of Minnesota

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016  5:30p.m.  
Aster Cafe125 SE Main Street, St. Anthony Main, Minneapolis
No cover, Please RSVP!

 

A SIP OF SCIENCE bridges the gap between science and culture in a setting that bridges the gap between brain and belly.  Food, beer, and learning are on the menu in a happy hour forum that puts science in context through storytelling.

May 11th Event –

The Mississippi River has long been managed for navigation and transportation purposes. Last June, the St. Anthony Falls lock was closed to navigation and channel dredging was halted. These management actions are expected to change the physical, chemical, and biological condition of the river between the Coon Rapids and Ford Dams. Join us as Jane Mazack describes a current collaborative study between the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership, Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, the University of Minnesota’s St. Anthony Falls Lab, and River Life program that investigates the keys to evaluating the impacts of the lock closure.

 

The talk takes place during happy hour at the Aster Cafe || Food and Drink Available for Purchase

ABOUT THIS MONTH’S SPEAKER

Jane Mazack is a PhD candidate in Water Resources Science at the University of Minnesota. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science from Calvin College in Michigan and a M.S. in Water Resources from the University of Minnesota. Her primary research interest is in aquatic ecology, and her dissertation research focuses on the winter dynamics of invertebrates in southeastern Minnesota trout streams.

ABOUT A SIP OF SCIENCE

A SIP OF SCIENCE is a science happy hour sponsored by the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics (NCED). It is a chance to hear about new and exciting research over beer, in a cool bar.  Come talk with the experts about their efforts to address some of the Earth’s most pressing problems. NCED’s A SIP OF SCIENCE brings the wonder of science to happy hour.

Interested in hearing about Sip of Science events?  Join our mailing list.

River Rangers and Stormwater Mitigation at MWMO

November 10, 2015Maria LeeFeatured, Former Featured Posts, Guest Posts, RiversComments Off on River Rangers and Stormwater Mitigation at MWMO

by Maria Lee

Two years ago I took a big step towards adulthood and became a home renter. Along with having a house came the barrage of various bills, and among these bills was the City of Minneapolis Utility Bill. Every month I scanned my utility bill and the line ‘Stormwater Utility Fee’ always stood out because I didn’t understand this as a utility.

I eventually learned that part of my ‘Stormwater Utility Fees’ went to the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO). Last month students from the University of Minnesota’s River Rangers group visited the MWMO to build understanding of the what the organization does, where our stormwater fee goes, and how our actions affect the health of the Mississippi River!

Students learn about stormwater mitigation at the MWMO (Photo by M.Lee)

Students learn about stormwater mitigation at the MWMO (Photo by M.Lee)

The MWMO is a special unit of local government that provides for the long-term management of water and natural resources over an area of land that drains into 15 miles of the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities metro area. The MWMO works extremely hard to help residents of the watershed understand how their household, schools, offices, and other places of work and play are connected to the river. In Minneapolis, our storm drains run to the Mississippi River. This means our choices and behavior on the surface makes a huge difference! Part of the MWMO’s effort to increase public understanding of stormwater is their Stormwater Park and Learning Center. The outside of the building is an interpretive area showcasing landscaping choices and strategies that help mitigate stormwater runoff such as rain gardens, rain barrels, and semipermeable surface paving.

MWMO’s Stormwater Park and Learning Center (Photo by MWMO)

MWMO’s Stormwater Park and Learning Center (Photo by MWMO)

While we enjoyed learning about landscaping choices that support a healthier Mississippi River, most students at the University of Minnesota live in apartments, dorms, or rental units that don’t allow re-landscaping. Luckily, the MWMO had many more ideas about habits we can incorporate into our daily lives that support a healthier river! Inside the building they had resources on safer cleaning products and tips to save water. The MWMO also encouraged us as college students to think creatively about conservation and watershed management! Every year the MWMO gives out grant money for Stewardship Ideas. In the past a rain garden on the University of Minnesota Campus has been sponsored by grants like this!

A visit to the MWMO is a great way to see where policy, education, and science-based management converge to face the challenges of an ultra-urban and diverse watershed. Do you have a local watershed management organization? What resources do they have to help you protect our river?

Panel to Explore Connections between Mississippi River, African-American History and Culture

March 10, 2015Patrick NunnallyEvents, Former Featured PostsComments Off on Panel to Explore Connections between Mississippi River, African-American History and Culture

Several months ago, I wrote about the growing awareness that much of contemporary environmental advocacy does not address issues important to African-Americans, Latinos, and other groups that fall outside the movement’s historical center in the white middle and upper classes. My earlier post suggested some Twitter and blog accounts to follow, and left room for additional reading and analysis on this issue.

I’m pleased to report that the University of Minnesota is beginning to address this gap, starting with a panel discussion “Backwater Blues: Environmental Disaster and African American Experiences.” The discussion will be held on March 31, at 4:00.  The location is Room 1210 Heller Hall, on the University’s West Bank campus.

The origination point for the discussion is a book by University of Houston professor Richard Mizelle that examines the Mississippi River Flood of 1927 and its impacts on African-American culture.  Tens of thousands, if not more, people were displaced, some never to return to their homes.  The exodus north contributed to the spread of musical genres such as jazz and blues outside their “cultural hearth” in the lower Delta.  The flood and its aftermath shed a distinctive look into broader patterns and institutions of African American life in the early 20th century.

An interdisciplinary panel of scholars from the University of Minnesota will explore the book and its findings, as well as broader questions about the importance of environmental issues broadly construed in understanding the histories of African Americans.  It should be a lively, important discussion–save the date, get off work early, and join in!

Living with the Mississippi: The West Side Flats

Living with the Mississippi is a blog series that examines the history of the river flats communities and what it means to almost literally live on the Mississippi River. Follow along to learn more about life on the Mississippi prior to luxury condos and clean river water, before the riverfront was considered a desirable place to live. The entire series is downloadable in PDF format here.

The West Side Flats in St. Paul has provided a home to a number of different communities. First occupied by the Mdwakanton Sioux, the 1851 Treaty of Traverse des Sioux opened land on the West Side to white settlement; many Native-Americans stayed and were joined first by French-Canadians and later by German and Irish settlers.[i] Then, abruptly, in 1882 a train arrived in St. Paul carrying over two hundred Russian Jewish refugees fleeing the persecution of Czar Alexander III. As Eastern European Jews continued to arrive, they permeated the flats, taking ownership of the community. Later, they would be joined by Syrian and Lebanese immigrants, and, beginning in the 1930s, started being replaced by Hispanic immigrants, mainly migrant workers from Mexico. The Lower West Side has been referred to as the Ellis Island of St. Paul, a stopping point for many new immigrants to the city.[ii] However, through these changes, one fixture remained constant: the presence of the Neighborhood House.

“Neighborhood house, Indiana Avenue and Robertson Street, St. Paul.” Photographer Unknown, taken in 1924. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

“Neighborhood house, Indiana Avenue and Robertson Street, St. Paul.” Photographer Unknown, taken in 1924. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

In 1893, the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society established an Industrial School to teach new skills and “American ways” to the Jewish refugees on the West Side Flats. By 1897, the school, now known as the Neighborhood House, began catering to adults as well, and it was quickly realized the needs of the community extended beyond the Jewish population. In 1903, it reorganized to become a non-sectarian center, providing a number of services to the residents of the West Side Flats, including Americanization and English classes.[iii]

“Dancing class, Neighborhood House, St. Paul.” Taken by Carl R. Ermisch in approximately 1920. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

“Dancing class, Neighborhood House, St. Paul.” Taken by Carl R. Ermisch in approximately 1920. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

Scholar Lorraine Pierce, who wrote her Master’s Thesis on the history of the West Side’s Jewish community, noted that many of the clubs at the Neighborhood House were segregated by ethnic group, indicating that it might not have been the “melting pot” it was often described as, yet many Mexican-American residents remember a peaceful coexistence. In a 1975 Oral History, former West Side Flats resident Frank “Kiko” Rangel noted that “the West Side was like one big family. Everybody knew everyone and anything that happened everybody would know right away.” When asked if the different nationalities got along, he answered yes. “There wasn’t any sign of…discrimination, yes. None at all.”[iv]

In his 2010 Oral History for the Lideres Latinos project, community leader Gillbert de la O echoed Rangel’s sentiment, stating that “there didn’t seem to be any of that, well, discrimination. I’m black. I’m Chicano. I’m Jewish.. All that kind of stuff, it wasn’t happening back then, not on the West Side.” He went further to discuss the cultural exchanges between the Mexican and Jewish populations, stating that “Just being able to go to school with some of the Jewish kids and get involved with their culture was great, and they’d get involved with our culture.”[v] A look at the population maps confirms a lack of segregation between ethnic groups; other than a general cluster of Jewish Eastern European and Hispanic households along State and Robertson Streets, the West Side Flats is startlingly integrated. A 1940 Neighborhood House survey found as many as 30 nationalities represented by its patrons.[vi]

“West Side of St. Paul during flood.” Taken by the St. Paul Dispatch in 1952. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

“West Side of St. Paul during flood.” Taken by the St. Paul Dispatch in 1952. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

As rumors of an industrial park at the West Side Flats began to circulate, the Neighborhood House created the “Old West Side Improvement Association” to protect the interests of the community.[vii] As the Port Authority and the St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority made moves to acquire the entire community for urban renewal projects, this group was vocal in ensuring the West Side Flats residents would have adequate aid during the relocation process and worked to establish more public housing projects, though their efforts were unsuccessful. At the Neighborhood House, residents were able to meet with representatives from these agencies to better understand their rights. Though assured by these representatives that urban renewal was in the best interest of the city, the West Side community resisted the change. Even former West Side residents joined the group, often still bound to the community by religious institutions or workplaces.[viii] When the remaining homes were demolished in 1962, the Neighborhood House followed members of the community onto the Upper West Side, where it continues to serve the needs of St. Paul’s newest residents.

Further Reading for those interested in the history of the West Side Flats:

Footnotes:

[i] Pierce, Lorraine E. St. Paul’s Lower West Side. Thesis (M.A): University of Minnesota, 1971.
[ii] Johnson, Hildegard Binder. “The Germans” in They Chose Minnesota: A Survey of the State’s Ethnic Groups. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1981.
[iii] Rosenblum, Gene. The Lost Jewish Community of the West Side Flats. Chicago, IL: Arcadia Publishing, 2002.
[iv] Moosbrugger, Grant A. “Mexican-American Oral History Project” Interview with Frank Rangel on August 4, 1975.
[v] Duarte, Lorena. “Lideres Latinos Oral History Project” Interview with Gilbert de la O on March 29, 2010.
[vi] Kimball, Joe. “For newcomers, a place to feel at home. For 100 years, Neighborhood House on St. Paul’s West Side has served as a beacon for immigrants from around the world.” Star Tribune 11 August 1997.
[vii] Pierce, Lorraine E. St. Paul’s Lower West Side. Thesis (M.A): University of Minnesota, 1971.
[viii] Old West Side Improvement Association Files, 1960-1961. Neighborhood House Association Records. Minnesota Historical Society.

Why Treaties Matter: It’s All About Relationships

February 26, 2015Patrick NunnallyFormer Featured PostsComments Off on Why Treaties Matter: It’s All About Relationships

Treaties, such as the series of documents between representatives of the United States government and people native to this continent, are fundamentally about establishing relationships between people.  This is probably why there are such particular laws spelling out how treaties are made, and is why it is so important that we all understand the histories of the treaties that the United States has signed with Indian people.

A traveling exhibition, Why Treaties Matter, has been touring Minnesota since last summer, with dates scheduled into summer 2016.  The exhibition and accompanying virtual exhibit and web site, are the result of a collaboration between the Minnesota Humanities Center, Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.  Minnesota’s Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment supported the project through a grant.

The exhibition opens at Century College West Campus on March 2 and runs through March 14.

The exhibition and web site are essential to understanding the nature of Minnesota’s land and water.  Voices of Indian people are heard describing the multifaceted considerations involved in understanding treaties as historical and legal documents.  The educators guide and classroom materials are rich and extensive.  Among the wealth of perspectives one message in particular is clear: tribal nations manage lands and waters; lands and waters managed by other public entities have in their history a relation that was established through a treaty.

Why do treaties matter?  Treaties matter to our understanding of our proper relationships to the Mississippi River, to this place more generally, and with each other.

Living with the Mississippi: Health and Housing on the River

Living with the Mississippi is a blog series that examines the history of the river flats communities and what it means to almost literally live on the Mississippi River. Follow along to learn more about life on the Mississippi prior to luxury condos and clean river water, before the riverfront was considered a desirable place to live. The entire series is downloadable in PDF format here.

In my post on Dr. Kilvington’s dumping ground I discussed the health risks specific to the Bohemian Flats, though most of the river flats communities faced similar challenges with health and poverty. Some of these risks were direct effects of the proximity to the river, while others stemmed from the basic nature of low-income neighborhoods. In 1917, Carol Aronovici, Director of Social Service for the Wilder Foundation, wrote a report about the housing conditions in St. Paul. This study, which focused on slum housing, consistently ranked Swede Hollow, the Upper Levee, and the West Side Flats as having some of the worst conditions in the entire city.

“Flooding in Bohemian Flats.” Taken by Karen Bayliss in June, 1929. Courtesy of the Hennepin County Library. (Note the trash lining the banks of the river.)

“Flooding in Bohemian Flats.” Taken by Karen Bayliss in June, 1929. Courtesy of the Hennepin County Library. (Note the trash lining the banks of the river.)

The districts were rated and compared for a number of attributes, including access to city water, sewers, and bathing facilities, presence of ash cans or garbage cans, degree of crowding, amount of light and ventilation, and extent of rubbish on lawn. The flats communities consistently ranked below average on these conditions, particularly the Upper Levee, which completely lacked bathing facilities, access to city water or a sewer, garbage cans, or ash cans.[i] Pictures of the West Side Flats and Swede Hollow appeared in the report; the former was called out for the dilapidated boarding houses lining State, Robertson, and Wabasha Streets, while Swede Hollow was noted for its sanitation issues, as the residents had constructed their outhouses above Phalen Creek to use the stream as their sewer.[ii]

“Swede Hollow, St. Paul.” Taken by Albert Charles Munson in 1910. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society. (Note the outhouses over the creek on the right side of the photo.)

“Swede Hollow, St. Paul.” Taken by Albert Charles Munson in 1910. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society. (Note the outhouses over the creek on the right side of the photo.)

Though the city of Minneapolis did not conduct an extensive survey like St. Paul, the Bohemian Flats was discussed in a 1915 examination of housing in Minneapolis. This report noted the limited supply of water at the flats, specifically citing a pump at the Bohemian Flats continued to provide water to much of the community though it had been condemned two years earlier.[iii] Contaminated water would have likely been a problem at many of the flats communities, as most of the residents received their water from pumps and springs. Spring floods would not only fill the homes with unsanitary silt and water, but also could have flooded these water sources, contaminating their water supply as well.

“Woman pumping water from pump on Bohemian Flats, Minneapolis.” Photographer Unknown, taken in approximately 1935. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

“Woman pumping water from pump on Bohemian Flats, Minneapolis.” Photographer Unknown, taken in approximately 1935. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

The lack of clean water, sewer systems, and garbage facilities, as well as the overcrowding of homes, provided the perfect breeding ground for infectious diseases, resulting in a number of outbreaks in these communities. The health and housing conditions at the river flats settlements provide a departure from the more common, nostalgic narratives, providing insight into the physical problems these immigrant communities were facing.

Further Reading:

Footnotes:

[i] Ibid.
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] Ibid.

A Living River : Installation by Anna Metcalfe

February 10, 2015Anna MetcalfeEvents, Former Featured PostsComments Off on A Living River : Installation by Anna Metcalfe
A Living River by Anna Metcalfe

A Living River by Anna Metcalfe

“A Living River”

Concordia University Gallery
Opening: February 5, 5-7pm
Show runs February 5 – March 4
Gallery hours:  10-4 M-F

A Living River by Anna Metcalfe

A Living River by Anna Metcalfe

In this show, I investigate how my art practice can be a catalyst for social change. Reflecting a concern for environmental issues: food systems, water, and agriculture, my work bridges placemaking and event-based art with a material focus on clay. A Living River presents a collaboration with Wilderness Inquiry in 2013-2014, including drawn and written reflection from Folwell Middle School and Upper Mississippi Academy students.

Click on the pictures for a detailed gallery view.

This installation was made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

For more information on my work, please visit http://annametcalfe.com/

Living with the Mississippi: Dr. Kilvington’s Dumping Ground

Living with the Mississippi is a blog series that examines the history of the river flats communities and what it means to almost literally live on the Mississippi River. Follow along to learn more about life on the Mississippi prior to luxury condos and clean river water, before the riverfront was considered a desirable place to live. The entire series is downloadable in PDF format here.

In 1890, the St. Anthony Falls Water Power Company ordered that the City of Minneapolis stop dumping their garbage directly into the Mississippi River, giving them only a few days to find a new place to dispose of waste.[i] Barred access to the river, Dr. Kilvington, head of the Minneapolis Board of Health, and his sanitation committee found a loophole by depositing trash on the banks of the Mississippi instead. It was determined that the flats beneath the Washington Avenue bridge would provide a satisfactory location for the dump, “away from the settled city.”[ii] This facility, described in an appropriately titled Minneapolis Tribune article about the flats called “Life at the Dump,” was extremely hazardous to the health of the residents at the Bohemian Flats.

“S.S. Kilvington.” Taken by W.H. Jacoby and Son in approximately 1885. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

“S.S. Kilvington.” Taken by W.H. Jacoby and Son in approximately 1885. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

The reporter describes the odor of the dump in great detail: “The smell though was extremely picturesque. It had frills and fancy trimmings all over it. The outer zone was gently suggestive of eggs which had become passé. Then there was wafted in an odor reminding one of a Bridge square restaurant; this was soon reinforced by foul exhalations from decaying fruit and vegetables, and the center of the atmospheric pollution was a combination of all these smells and every other that could offend the olefactory sense.”[iii] The author goes on to condemn the dumping of garbage into the river as an illegal offense, and discusses the implications of these practices on the nearby community.

The residents of the Bohemian Flats were not the only people affected by the dumping ground. Not surprisingly, this new riverside location did not remedy the Mississippi’s water quality issues. An 1894 report found that the water, which approximately 100,000 Minneapolis residents drank, was extremely contaminated. Report author and chemist Charles W. Drew attributed the major disease outbreaks to this problem, noting that the water’s quality was one of the city’s most important issues.[iv] The garbage at the Bohemian Flats was routinely washed into the river by spring floods, which not only contaminated the water, but also temporarily left the city without a place to put their waste.[v]

In 1899, the State Board of Health ordered Kilvington’s replacement, C.T. Frane, to find a new location for the city dump, after closing the location at the flats. This article noted that city residents had been dumping their “cess-pools” (toilet waste) beneath the bridge in addition to trash.[vi] Around the same time, a similar dumping ground at the East Side Flats beneath the 10th Avenue Bridge was closed; however, it seems that these decisions were concerned solely with the water quality of the Mississippi River. The residents of these communities were rarely mentioned in the articles. Though one story discusses a petition from the Bohemian Flats residents asking to remove the dump from their community, the government, “recognizing nothing could be done at once,” filed the petition and seemed to promptly forget the complaint.[vii]

Though the residents at the flats predated the garbage dump by over two decades, it reflected negatively on the community, rather than the people who put their garbage next to a residential area. It leads one to wonder about the role of the government in creating an unfavorable place. What responsibility did the city and the city’s residents take for this trash heap? Why did it become synonymous with the flats residents when the majority of the garbage did not belong to them? The Bohemian Flats was already a place where disease and poverty ran rampant, but the presence of this city dump would have made life much more unbearable.

Footnotes:

[i] “In the City: The City to Be Without a Place to Dump Its Garbage After Tuesday of this Week.” Minneapolis Tribune 30 April 1890.
[ii]“That Garbage Dump: The Health Officers Think the New Site Will Answer.” Minneapolis Tribune 26 August 1890.
[iii] “Life at the Dump.” Minneapolis Tribune 26 April 1892.
[iv] “River Water Report.” Minneapolis Tribune 10 June 1894.
[v] “It’s Quite Serious: The City Has No Place to Dump Garbage.” Minneapolis Tribune 22 May 1892.
[vi] “The Court Says, Stop!” Minneapolis Tribune 1 September 1899.
[vii] “At the Top Again.” Minneapolis Tribune 10 May 1892.

Contact Us!
Send us a note at rvrlife@umn.edu to make suggestions for other places we should look, media to track, and stories to tell!
River Life in Video
Come Along for a Water Walk with Kare11 and River Life, and see Gifts at Work: The Mississippi River by the University of Minnesota Foundation
Open Rivers: Rethinking the Mississippi
A joint project of River Life, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the University of Minnesota Libraries, Open Rivers is an interdisciplinary online journal that recognizes the Mississippi River as a space for timely and critical conversations about people, community, water, and place.