West End: Community Development

Tour curated by: Special thanks to local historians Gary Brueggemann, Jim Sazevich, and Tom Schroeder, local author Jerry Rothstein, and the West End neighborhood volunteers for their time and support. Additional thanks to the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and the Historic Irvine Park Association for the use of their research.

Beginning in the 1950s, urban renewal and interstate highway construction became central issues for cities. The design of Shepard Road as the central link from downtown to the airport and points west and south required that the Upper Levee, home to vital components of the West End community since the 1850s, be cleared, infilled and prepared for potential industrial use. At Seven Corners, the Civic Center project went forward with the clearance of block after block of buildings, without much attention to whether any of them merited preservation.

Community development efforts over the last sixty years illustrate the tenacity and dedication of different elements of the community. From the 1950s and 1960s to today, a collaboration of active community organizations has devoted time and energy to education, social services and support, project development and, in some instances, resistance to proposals deemed bad for the community.

The West 7th/Fort Road Federation, formed by active and organized citizens in 1973, has been instrumental in ensuring the community’s growth, redevelopment, and sustained success over the years. A number of volunteers and outreach projects such as West End Arts, the West End Neighborhood Gardeners, West 7th Community Center, Community Reporter monthly newspaper, West 7th Business Association and its neighborhood enhancement group, have all responded to the needs and emerging issues facing the West End community.

Locations for Tour

John Irvine’s gift to the young village had seen its zenith and a long decline, and so became a target for urban renewal. Many of the houses in the area were owned by absentee landlords and subdivided into minimal living units. Public acquisition…

Federal and state transportation authorities wanted to connect Highway 5 with Interstate 94 by running a six-lane freeway between the two, dividing the West End neighborhoods and cutting off the area from others further “uphill.” In 1969,…

Some of the oldest public and private schools in the City and State are located in the West 7th neighborhood. While some schools have come and gone—Riverside, Davis, and St. Stanislaus—the community has rallied to ensure that neighborhood-based…

In 1873, the City and County Hospital opened, followed in 1891 by the Ancker School of Nursing. City and County Hospital was one of the first in the country to have onsite residences and training for nurses. The whole complex, located at Jefferson…