Minneapolis is filled with natural wonders, including its famous city lakes, Minnehaha Falls, a 3700-year-old quaking bog in a city park about the size of New York City’s Central Park, the Mississippi River… and Nicollet Island, one of few inhabited natural islands on the Mississippi River!
Nicollet Island is steeped in history and spirituality. The first inhabitants of Nicollet Island were Ojibwe and Dakota, who considered it a sacred nexus to the spiritual world. It was known as a birthing place for the Dakota and a site for their vision quest ceremonies.
Nicollet Island was covered with sugar maple and elm trees when it was first opened to white settlement in 1838. The north side of the island was the residential district as it still is today. It is hard to think of this small 48-acre island being home to the working class as well as mansions for the city’s elite. By the mid-1880s about 40 residences had been built, as well as three fashionable masonry townhouses.
Eastman, who owned the island in those days, hoped to attract the wealthy to his ‘dreamland’ neighborhood but they moved south to the city lakes instead. Eastman himself lived on the island until his death in 1902. By the 1950s it had become the city’s skid row and started to see a revival in the 1970s.
Today the island is owned by the city as parkland but there are about 20 Victorian era houses remaining on leased land. Grove Street Flats, a historic 8-unit luxury townhouse complex built in the 1870s was rehabbed in the 1980s into 18 units and is one of the most unique walkup condo complexes in the metro area, with rooftop patios and interior light shafts in some units.
Think you might like to live on this historic island? Only six houses have been sold since 1992… including one of the oldest that sold last year! One unit sold in Grove Street Flats last year, as did one in the complex built on West Island Avenue in the 1980s, when Grove Street Flats was renovated.
Patience is the name of the game if you want to live on the island, but it is possible… let me know if you would like to give it a try… I am very patient…
Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results Nicollet Island Realtor
- Our Lady of Lourdes… oldest continuously used church in Minneapolis
- Theodore Wirth Park… the Minneapolis park that’s close to the size of NYC’s Central Park
NOTE: A client informed me that Sabula, Iowa is also an inhabited island on the Mississippi River. But that island was formed by a lock and dam system which permanently flooded the lowlands west of the townsite, creating the Island City, as the town is now known.