Glenwood Avenue between Morgan and Newton - - c.1950
Photo Credit: Posted April 19, 2015 on Facebook 'Old North Minneapolis' by Bill Finlayson (accessed 2017.jan.11)
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Joe's Meat Market and Glenwood Bakery in the background. - - The woman in the photo is Bill Finlayson's mother.
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Following text credit: Article in the fall 1988 issue of 'Hennepin County History' magazine:
FINNTOWN, MINNEAPOLIS - AN AMERICAN NEIGHBORHOOD
. . . by: K. Marianne Wargelin
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As the non-church people joined them, the Laestadians created their Finnish village, a close-knit neighborhood. The numerous children in these large pioneer families played in the streets, using the Finnish Language until they went to Harrison School and had to learn English. In the evenings, the parents visited each other's houses, often creating informal "seurat" (meetings), singing hymns and praying together. Women beat their rugs clean in the nearby meadow. On warm summer Sundays, families walked out to the east side of Cedar Lake to picnic and play games before attending afternoon church services.
Businesses opened in people's homes or along the Western Avenue strip. Isak Anderson's grocery store became the village bulletin board, the place where newcomers came to find an ethnic family, the place domestic workers came to visit on their Thursday afternoons off. Like Anderson's store other early businesses were Laestadian: John Lahtinen did tailoring from his home; Heikki Heinonen began a shoemaker's shop at 154 Cedar Lake Road; Mrs. Liisa Wacklin functioned as midwife. But soon the distinction between Laestadian and non-church customers and owners became blurred. The best example was the Laestadian shoemaker, Karl Wacklin, who rented out his first-floor storefront at 1610 Western Ave. to a Socialist Barber, Mrs. Ellen Wuokila, while he worked out of a second-floor shop.
Finnish-speaking people could soon shop for most things in Finnish stores. Art Hummi and John Sala worked as community tailors. Hilja Steckman and other women did dressmaking. W.J. Matson's meat market opened at 6 Cedar Lake Road. Aalto's Bakery was located further west at 1403 Western Ave. After 1907 Dr. Jarl Lemstrom practiced Finnish-language medicine first from his flat at 115 N. 12th St., and then at 1600 Western Ave., above Mr. Lake's Drugstore. Mrs. Fanny Noponen and Mrs. Liisa Carlson gave Finnish-style massages in customers' homes and, in later years, in a private massage room at the local Finnish sauna. Finnish businesses now made the Finntown visible to all Americans.
The Finnish population drifted away from Washington Avenue. Soderstrom's drug-manufacturing business moved to 16 Western Ave. the "poika taloja" (single workingmen's boardinghouses) clustered around Western and 10th. Finns danced the night away at a dance hall on Western near 1st Avenue N. In 1903, the Finnish National Lutheran Church opened "Kansan Opisto" (People's College), a Finnish American experimental "folk school." Located at Hennepin and 3rd in the Boston Block building, the school's first students were twenty first- and second-generation Finnish Americans previously denied the opportunity to study Finnish language and traditions. In 1905, members of the Finnish Society compromised and built their hall at the southeast corner of 6th Avenue N. and Bassett Place - halfway between the old and new neighborhoods. But by 1912, Washington Avenue had faded into the Finnish American past.
Much of the new Finntown population radically diverged from the Laestadians. Finnish family immigration was giving way to immigration by young, single men and women more likely to have "worldly" interests than Laestadian beliefs. They wanted to dance, to go to shows, to sing, and to participate in secular clubs. If anything, they were anti-church, angry that the Church of Finland failed to support the working class. In addition, they were strongly committed to modern democratic principles, which the Russian czar was suppressing in Finland. These new immigrants became politically active as Socialists rather than as Republicans as earlier immigrants had.
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finntownfinn townminneapolis st. paulfinntown MinneapolisAn American NeighborhoodMarianne Wargelin