Though it was 20 years ago that the Southwest Journal published its first issue, there are several parallels between 1990 and 2010. In both years, Minneapolis became home to a new sports facility named Target. In 1990 the Minnesota Legislature made significant cuts to state government, as it did during the 2010 session. And it was August of 1990 that the U.S. began fighting a war in Iraq.
A look back into the Southwest Journal’s first 11 issues shows that sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same. It also reveals that the events of 1990 clearly shaped the Southwest of 2010.
Here are highlights from the news of 1990:
A newspaper strictly for Southwest residents
Publisher Janis Hall introduced the Southwest Journal to the community. She penned a front-page column explaining the need for good, community news in Southwest Minneapolis and asked for residents to play an active role with the paper.
“We believe Southwest Minneapolis is underrepresented in the Minneapolis press, and have therefore included all of Southwest Minneapolis in our boundaries,” she wrote. “We hope that residents from all of the Southwest Minneapolis neighborhoods will become involved in creating this paper.
“This paper is a vehicle for the people in this community who, for the past ten years or so, haven’t had a place to voice their opinions or read about issues that directly affect them,” Hall wrote.
Noise from the sky
On page 3 of the first edition of the Southwest Journal, an article was written by Doug Toft that was the first part of what became the Southwest story of the year in 1990.
Titled “Complaint line sends a message and MAC has to listen,” the article explained that more than 20,000 calls were made to the Metropolitan Airports Commission in 1989. Callers complained of increased air traffic that was keeping them up at night, drowning out their television sets and forcing them inside on nice days.
It was not the first time homeowners were upset with the noise, but residents in 1990 made sure the airport commission and the airlines heard them loud and clear.
Jan Del Calzo, a South Minneapolis resident and MAC member, told the Southwest Journal in January, “If you don’t keep the issue before people, they’ll forget about it.”
The people did not forget. In June, 75 members of the South Metro Airport Action Council (SMAAC) protested airport noise outside Northwest Airlines Chairman Al Checci’s Lake Harriet Home.
The group contended that daily takeoffs and landings had increased from 200 in 1978 to 1,200 in 1990 and many said the noise was unbearable.
“We’ve made no headway by using the proper channels of complaint. So today we’re escalating our activities to a personal level,” said protester Dick Saunders.
In September, several residents put their complaints to ink, filling a two-page spread of letters to the editor mostly expressing their frustration with the airport. Several airline executives wrote responses the next month saying they use modern technology to lower noise levels.
No solution to the noise had surfaced by the end of the year, although the federal government passed a noise policy that required airlines to phase out older planes in favor of newer, quieter aircraft.
Lake and Lagoon
Construction began in March to make Lagoon Avenue and Lake Street one-way roads between Dupont Parkway and Lake Calhoun.
The $2.3 million project was designed to ease Uptown traffic congestion and pollution and to discourage motorists from cutting through surrounding neighborhoods.
Improvements to the Harriet-Como Streetcar Line
Volunteers worked countless hours in 1990 to construct a passenger depot for the Harriet-Como Streetcar Line at the Lake Harriet Station on 42nd and Queen Avenue South.
Volunteers also renovated a retired 1893 streetcar — car 78 — to add to the existing two cars on the line. Car 78 had been retired in 1911 by the Duluth Street Car Company and spent the next 63 years in a northern Minnesota storage shed.
Both the station — designed by Eugene Hickey — and the car were completed that year.
High rises on Calhoun
Developers in 1990 prepared for construction of three apartment towers of 20, 25 and 30 stories in the 3000 block of Excelsior Boulevard. The Calhoun Beach Partnership prepared to build a 12-story building next door the Calhoun Beach Club.
Minneapolis Park LoverS, a neighborhood group, sued the city and Lake Calhoun Associated over the Excelsior sites, claiming state environmental laws had been violated.
Crews began a $3 million expansion on the Washburn Community library in September, adding 6,000 square feet and doubling book capacity from 30,000 to 60,000.
Southwest High School principal William Phillips called the school’s faculty together in April to discuss how to address the needs of a growing minority population of students at the high school.
A new neighborhood group
Fulton residents gathered in September to elect members and adopt bylaws, creating a new neighborhood association. Barbara Harmon was elected president of the new group.
Hoops in Target Center
On Nov. 1, 1990, the Minnesota Timberwolves played their first game in the Target Center, defeating the Dallas Mavericks 98 to 85. The arena cost $95 million.
Twenty years later Target Field opened next door after a $522 million construction.
Finally, a recycling program for plastics
After a push from residents, the city of Minneapolis began curbside pickup of plastic containers in the fall of 1990.
The state Legislature during the 1990 session decided not to fund $100 million for light rail in Hennepin County.
County Commissioner Mark Andrew insisted a 10-year light rail plan was still on schedule. That plan had lines going through Southwest Minneapolis, along I-35W, following Hiawatha Avenue and running through northwest Minneapolis.
“They (the state legislators) don’t have to authorize funds until the next session.” Andrew said at the time. “We’ll be ready to start letting contracts by next summer. I think they will come through even though there will be opposition, even from Hennepin County communities.”