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The city of Minneapolis, Minnesota is officially defined by the Minneapolis City Council as divided into eleven communities, each containing multiple official neighborhoods. Informally, there are city areas with colloquial labels. Residents may also group themselves by city street suffixes South, North, Southeast, Southwest, and Northeast.
Common conceptions of Minneapolis neighborhoods do not always align with official city maps, especially since much of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area's population now lives outside of the two major cities. Generalized names such as "North Minneapolis" are actually a combination of the Near North and Camden communities with each of these communities made up of several neighborhoods.
The local community defines several general areas based on the directional suffixes added to streets in the city. These city areas do not necessarily correlate with official community or neighborhood definitions.
Downtown Minneapolis refers to the street grid area aligned on a diagonal with the Mississippi River bend, as opposed to the true north grid orientation. South of this grid begins South Minneapolis. Southwest Minneapolis is not as clearly defined within South Minneapolis. The core is considered the official community of Southwest is bounded on the north by the line of 36th St W, extending west from where it ends at Lake Calhoun, and on the east by I-35W.
The part of Minneapolis on the east bank of the Mississippi River is divided into Northeast and Southeast street suffixes by East Hennepin Avenue. These suffixes approximately align with the communities of Northeast and University respectively. The Old St. Anthony business district along Main Street Southeast tends to orientate toward Northeast. The University of Minnesota-oriented University community and the traditionally working-class Northeast community have quite distinct identities.
Minneapolis consists of 11 communities, each of which are subdivided into anywhere between 4 to 13 neighborhoods. The official neighborhoods have a variety of origins; some were formed out of the attendance areas for elementary schools, while others are the areas of coverage of neighborhood associations formed by activists between 1901 and the 1980s. The division of the city into official neighborhoods and communities occurred as part of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) in the early 1990s. They remain associated with this community-based funding program, and are also used for statistical purposes. For purposes of the NRP, some of the 81 official neighborhoods have combined forces, leading to a total of 67 NRP Neighborhood action plans.
Neighborhoods historically defined themselves around schools and commercial hubs, and many trace neighborhood identity back into community organizations formed in the early part of the 20th Century. The oldest, the Prospect Park East River Road Association formed in 1901 to oppose city plans to level Tower Hill. In other neighborhoods, the current official neighborhood association was formed in the 1970s and 1980s; in Linden Hills, the organization was formed in 1972 in response to proposed changes in the park, although there were several social and commercial organizations in the neighborhood dating back to the neighborhood's development at the turn of the 20th Century.
Many of the major business districts of the city sit on major thoroughfares, and since these thoroughfares also form the boundaries of official neighborhoods, local identity may not correspond with these official neighborhoods. Lake Street, running the entire length of the city in south Minneapolis is a string of commercial districts which includes Uptown, Lyn-Lake and Midtown, while forming the border of 12 neighborhoods. Other streets with similar linking and bordering qualities include Nicollet Avenue, stringing together Nicollet Mall, Eat Street south of Franklin Avenue, and smaller districts south of Lake Street; Central Avenue, which links downtown to Old St Anthony Village via the Third Avenue Bridge and then continues on to form a core commercial district of Northeast around Lowry Avenue; and University Avenue, which joins Old St Anthony to Dinkytown, and then continues into Midway and the State Capitol in Saint Paul.
Uptown is probably the most well-known business district in Minneapolis besides downtown, centered at the intersection of West Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue, but it is not officially recognized as it includes parts of four neighborhoods: CARAG, ECCO, East Isles, and Lowry Hill East. The Uptown Business Association is focused on the area within a few blocks of Lake and Hennepin, but the "Uptown" identity can stretch as far north as Franklin Avenue, and as far east as Lyndale Avenue, where it now merges into Lyn-Lake.
Eat Street is the newest of Minneapolis's commercial district, formed in the late 1990s to promote the international variety of restaurants along Nicollet Avenue South within three blocks of 26th Street. Nicollet was historically the "Main Street" of the Whittier neighborhood, but was cut off from Lake Street by construction of a K-Mart. The named district was an effort to give the neighborhood a fresh identity.
The Old St. Anthony district, commonly known as Northeast, straddles the neighborhoods of Marcy-Holmes, and Nicollet Island/East Bank, both of which are part of the University community, rather than Northeast. It was the downtown for the city of St. Anthony before it joined Minneapolis in 1872.
Dinkytown is the coined name for an area just north of the University of Minnesota within the official Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, heavily populated by students. A row of historic fraternity houses along University Avenue is referred to as "frat row." Similarly, Stadium Village on the east end of campus is named for the now-demolished Memorial Stadium and is officially part of Prospect Park neighborhood (the name makes sense again now that nearby TCF Bank Stadium was completed in 2009).
The Warehouse District was a 19th and early 20th-century rail and truck shipping center for the region. In the 1970s and 1980s it became an artists quarter, and then a nightlife and entertainment district, which the southern portion (between I-394 and Hennepin Ave) remains. The district is largely within the North Loop neighborhood, but the heart of the entertainment district lies in the Downtown West neighborhood.
As the Mississippi riverfront downtown has been redeveloped since the 1980s, there have been several attempts at "rebranding" it. The "Mississippi Mile" spanned both sides of the river, but never really caught on locally. Saint Anthony Main, the name of the commercial development, came to refer to the section of the East Bank around it. More recently, people have come to refer to the West Bank between 3rd Avenue and the University as "The Mills District", though the name more properly applies to both sides of the river
Some neighborhoods enjoy nicknames such as Lowry Hill East which known as "The Wedge" because of its shape. However the Wedge Co-op on Lyndale Avenue S is actually in the Whittier neighborhood. Local amenities are also taken on as nicknames. Minnehaha refers to the businesses by Minnehaha Falls rather than along Minnehaha Avenue, and Tower (Hill) which is located along University Avenue SE in Prospect Park refers to the Witch's Hat Tower.