Why you should move to Longfellow And Howe in particular.
We moved to the Longfellow neighborhood in South Minneapolis 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 Avenue), to the west. This carves out Longfellow into its 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.
- Quiet and safe, with quick access to neighborhood parks and the river.
- Car traffic is slow and sane. Lake Street is overbuilt for the amount of car traffic and is ripe for a 4 to 3 road diet. Minnehaha Ave was redone in 2016⁄2017 and is much improved.
- Nice homes, with many young families moving to the neighborhood. Inventory is scarce, but prices are still more affordable than many other areas of south Minneapolis.
- Neighborhood is relatively walkable, especially if you live close to Lake Street or the “central Longfellow” business district at Lake and Minnehaha. Not nearly as walkable as uptown and northeast, but we get by fine with just one.
- “Close to everything” is a classic city living cliche. 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. After much heated discussion, the 38th Street bike lanes are now striped and are fine.
- 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 restaurant and coffee options
- Airport is close enough to be handy (15 minutes), but positioned such that we aren’t hammered by incoming airplane noise.
- 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, 38th, 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 west end by Minnehaha Avenue and increase in value to the east 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. Houses also seem noticeably smaller than in the neighborhoods west of Park Ave. Houses with three legit bedrooms (instead of a converted attic with low ceilings or a renovated basement).
Kids are everywhere. 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 $500k+ suburban style boxes (many are terrible, some are lovely). Block by block, the worst houses are getting fixed up, new families are moving in, and home values are on the rise.
No discussion of south Minneapolis housing is complete without talking about the airport. 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 plenty of airport noise, but only departures and only one runway. 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, it is certainly loud. 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.
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 Cafe: 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 Co-op Creamery is solid (excellent burger and kimchi), 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). But most often we just crap a few pizzas from Papa Murphy’s.
- 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.
- Sea Salt. What is summer without a trip to Sea Salt?
- Mexican: Sonora Grill serves the high end. 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 [ahem] a Culvers.
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.
- Local Bike Shop: the Hub on Minnehaha
- Two record stores: Hymies and Solid State
- Last flour mill in the city limits: ADM’s mill at 35th and Hiawatha
- Minnehaha Falls
- “Quietest place on earth”