Randy Karels

Why you should move to Longfellow

And Howe in particular.

We moved to Longfellow (or more precisely, Howe) in 2013. As we’ve settled in, we’ve grown to appreciate how much we like this little corner of the city.

Two big barriers separate Longfellow from the surrounding area: the Mississippi River to the east and the generally crappy Highway 55 (aka Hiawatha), to the west. This carves out Longfellow into it’s own little town within the city. It flies under the radar in many ways. Other parts of the city are more safe/dangerous, connected/isolated, hip/stale, white/diverse, energized/depressing. Longfellow is a nice balance.

Pros:

  • Quiet and safe, with quick access to neighborhood parks and the river.
  • Car traffic is slow and sane, with the exception of the main thoroughfares.
  • Nice homes, with many young families moving to the neighborhood. Good options at all price points.
  • Many parts of the neighborhood are very walkable. Making a car-optional lifestyle feasible.
  • “Close to everything” is a classic city living cliche.[^Cities are dense, so every neighborhood is close to a lot of other things by design.] But I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how accessible my favorite parts of the metro are from my front door. And even better: many of our favorite destinations don’t involve getting on the interstate.
  • Fast to downtown Minneapolis, the U, most of south and northeast Minneapolis, and the neighborhoods of St. Paul by the river. A quick hop on the interstate gets you to downtown St. Paul, Roseville, Richfield, or Bloomington.
  • Excellent biking connections via the Greenway, West River Road, Hiawatha Trail, and Minnehaha. Improvements to 38th St are in the works.
  • The best grocery store in the city (Seward Coop), with a little market (Longfellow Market) just up the street.
  • The best movie theatre in town (Riverview Theatre)
  • Solid food and coffee options
  • Airport is close enough to be handy (15 minutes), but positioned such that we aren’t hammered by incoming airplane noise.

Cons:

  • Public transit access is just ok. One of the two light rail lines is on the west edge of the neighborhood. But other than the frequent service on the east-west corridors (Franklin Ave, Lake St, and 46th St), the service is pretty spotty transfers turn any trip into a long slog.
  • Getting over to Linden Hills, St Louis Park, and the west suburbs can take a long time depending on traffic on Highway 62 and 394. Not ideal if jobs or family require you to drive west on the interstates during rush hour.

Houses at every price point.

In general, houses are more affordable on the east end by Minnehaha Avenue and increase in value to the west all the way to the Mississippi. Most notable are the pockets of historic craftsman and Tudor cottages from the 1920s and 30s. Many homes are small compared to current American standards (~1500sf), but that should come as no surprise to anyone looking in the city for housing.

Kids are everywhere, and many homes are flipping from senior housing to young families as the older generation retires, moves to assisted living, or passes on. The quality of the housing tends to vary from block to block, but overall I see slow and incremental improvements. There hasn’t been a gold rush of crappy flipped houses[^Some investors are buying up tiny, run down houses and vacant lots and plopping down $400k+ suburban style boxes (most are terrible, a few are lovely).], or vast swaths of blocks slowly rotting away. Block by block, the worst houses are getting fixed up, new families are moving in, and home values are on the rise.

Airport

No discussion of south Minneapolis housing is complete without talking about the airport. Not everyone is bothered by it, but the constant sound of airplanes would drive me crazy. By a twist of fate (and prevailing winds) many of the most desirable neighborhoods of Minneapolis are directly on the landing routes of the xx busiest airport in the country. As GIS assisted landings have become more common, mornings and evenings can become river of aircraft queued up for landing.

Longfellow has airport noise, but only departures and only one run way. If weather forces a plane to stay nearer to the ground on departures, or the plane takes a sharp turn to the east after taking off, I’ll be able to hear them. But most days, it isn’t a big deal.

For us, the levels of airport noise at our house is worth the tradeoff for a quick and easy 15 minute drive to the terminal.

Restaurants, Coffee, and Bars.

There’s no end to the options across Minneapolis and St Paul. Longfellow isn’t the hippest or best neighborhood for restaurants, but we have solid choices. Our favorites:

  • Blue Door: our always-busy local pub. Delicious burgers. Skip the tots and get a side salad.
  • Savory Bakehouse: tiny, cute, and yummy.
  • Dogwood: high end, fussy and delicious coffee.
  • Fireroast: cozy neighborhood coffeeshop. Pro-tip: they will sell neighbors carafes of coffee for your next brunch party.
  • Excellent Indian: Himalaya tastes fresher and is our favorite. Gandhi Mahal has bigger flavors, a solid lunch buffet (and aquaponics in the basement!)
  • Local-vore: The Birchwood Cafe is an institution, Heirloom is a new addition across the river, with affordable happy hour food options at the bar.
  • Pizza: Pizza Luce is a Minneapolis standard. Parkway Pizza is our somewhat inconsistent neighborhood joint. (Wish there was a wood-fired Neapolitan pizza place nearby… we usually head to Punch in NE or Highland Park).
  • Hi-Lo Diner: fun for all ages. Food is good, not great. Drinks and ambiance are stellar. Open late.
  • Cafe Racer Kitchen: Get your arepa fix. Great brunch.
  • Ramen: Unideli in United Noodle, naturally.
  • Coop Creamery
  • Sea Salt
  • Mexican: Sonora Grill serves the high end, and the xxx is the old-school joint. There’s a bunch of legit places on Lake Street nearby that I’ve been meaning to try for years.

What’s missing from Longfellow are the tentpole Asian cuisines. Korean, Thai, Vietnamese are completely absent. And the Chinese food is pretty bleak.

Also missing is a local brewery, a Neapolitan pizza joint, and a Culvers.

Schools

Honestly, I’m not up to speed on the quality of the local schools. Minneapolis has a big ecosystem of public, charter, and private schools, and students can apply to any school in the system. The best schools have lotteries for their enrollments, the neighborhood schools run the spectrum from excellent to terrible.

Misc

  • Local Bike Shop: the Hub on Minnehaha
  • Three (!) record stores: Hymies, Dead Media, and Solid State
  • Last flour mill in the city limits: ADM’s mill at 35th and Hiawatha
  • Minnehaha Falls
  • “Quietest place on earth”