Affirmative Inclusion Statement:
SNG and our neighborhood community have a history of welcoming and promoting diversity including but not limited to: race, ethnicity, religion, non-religion, culture, language, age, sexual orientation, gender, and socioeconomic status in our neighborhood. We recognize that this diversity is part of our strength and character, and wish to encourage all to be thoughtful, respectful and tolerant of others, especially those who have come to start a new life, to give opportunity to their families and to protect them from hatred, bigotry and persecution for any reason. All are welcome here.
The Seward Neighborhood Group (SNG) is one of the oldest neighborhood organizations in Minneapolis. SNG was established in 1960 to make Seward a better place to live, work, and play and is recognized by the City of Minneapolis as the official citizen participation organization within the boundaries of the Seward neighborhood.
Seward Neighborhood Group Goals
The goal of Seward Neighborhood Group is to foster a community where neighbors know each other, children can visit friends a few blocks away without fear, going for a walk is a social activity and chatting over the fence is a common activity: a neighborhood where diversity is celebrated and supported. We want to support and create a business district that is supported by all members of the community, create a main street that is vibrant and safe, even after dark. We want to create a community where physical movement is expected and easy, where biking and walking are used for transportation as often as vehicles are. SNG envisions a neighborhood where there is a true mingling of all our diverse communities.
SNG has updated its’ strategic plan, mission and vision. The plan includes four overarching goals are: Inclusiveness, Engagement, Sustainability, Community Improvement/Infrastructure.
Seward is very well organized with nearly 40 block clubs in place throughout the neighborhood. Block clubs help all neighbors get to know each other and establish relationships so that they are able to communicate effectively with one another should problems arise (and even if they don’t). If you’d like to find out about a block club on your block email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visitors to Minneapolis’s Seward Neighborhood are often struck by its intimacy and relative compactness, and in fact the neighborhood has been described as a small town surrounded on all sides by a big city. One reason for this strong sense of community independence is that the neighborhood’s boundaries are well-defined, literally setting Seward apart from the rest of the city. The neighborhood’s eastern border follows the Mississippi River to the Soo Line Railroad, which traces the southern boundary as it moves away from the river to the west. In the west, the boundary is marked by Hiawatha Avenue, and to the north is Interstate Highway 94.
As one of the oldest neighborhoods in Minneapolis, Seward dates back to the first rapid expansion of the city in the late Nineteenth Century. Seward’s history begins with its main commercial thoroughfare and cultural cornerstone, Franklin Avenue. Franklin originally ran along the southern border of the Town of Minneapolis, established in 1856. Over the next twenty-five years, the area expanded away from Franklin to the south and west. A major influence on the early growth of the neighborhood was the construction, in 1870, of the Iowa and Minnesota Division of the Milwaukee railroad, which runs parallel to Hiawatha Avenue on Seward’s western border. With the introduction of the railroad, the western part of Seward began to develop into a small but dense residential area for the immigrant and working-class families who worked in Franklin Avenue’s railroad shops and in nearby Minneapolis. Development in Seward was further stimulated by the Milwaukee Railroad “Short Line,” built between Minneapolis and St. Paul in 1881, which came to form the southern boundary of the neighborhood.
Throughout the 1870s and 1880s, residential development remained confined to the area adjacent to the railroad and the industrial district. During this time, a small tract of land between 26th and 30th avenues was used as a fairground by the Minnesota Mechanical and Agricultural Association. In the 1890s, the fairground would be abandoned, and much of the eastern part of the neighborhood would become settled at this time.
In 1888, the Franklin Avenue Bridge, which spans the Mississippi River, opened, and its introduction into the neighborhood fostered the commercial development of Franklin Avenue. That same year, Seward School was built at the corner of 24th Street and 28th Avenue South, near the old fairgrounds, joining Monroe Elementary School on Franklin to accommodate the neighborhood’s expanding population. Between 1902 and 1905, the Park Board acquired the entire West River Road Park, a part of the green belt that connects so much of Minneapolis, and began making improvements that would eventually turn the park into the desirable residential location it is today. By 1930, the area had been built up into a fully developed neighborhood.
As the years passed, Seward began to deteriorate, and community members realized they would have to work to renew the neighborhood for the future. In 1960, the Seward Neighborhood Group (SNG) was formed to build the first school-park facility in Minneapolis. With the help of the school system, the Park Board, and Pillsbury Waite, SNG was able to create Matthews Park and Matthews Center, built to adjoin the new Seward Montessori School (which replaced the old Seward School and Monroe Elementary).
The success of the SNG’s efforts encouraged more activism. In the 1970s, the community became politicized during the urban-renewal period in Minneapolis, mobilizing to ensure National Historic Preservation status for the small working-class homes that lined Milwaukee Avenue. Community interest also resulted in the construction of Seward’s high-rise apartment buildings, which added hundreds of units of affordable housing to the neighborhood.
The last ten years have seen even more changes. Seward Redesign has worked to attract and develop new local businesses that serve the needs of the neighborhood’s residents and keep the area’s economy vital. Another great success is the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP). Seward residents have dedicated thousands of hours to dozens of community causes, including maintaining and upgrading housing stock, remodeling neighborhood institutions such as the Matthews Center and the Playwrights’ Center, and putting badly needed computers in Seward Montessori. The program has enriched the community, and has made Seward into a model of development in Minneapolis.
What changes does the future have in store for Seward? Only time will tell. The beginning of the new century has already seen a new influx of immigrants who have brought their energy, imagination, and diversity to the neighborhood, and the next several years will see the introduction of a light-rail line that will run along the neighborhood’s west side. Whatever happens, Seward is sure to remain a unique place for people to live, work, and play.