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Movement of Jews out of the North Side and into St. Louis Park
In 1946, sixty percent of all Minneapolis Jews lived on the North Side, although relocation to the more suburban St. Louis Park neighborhood had already begun in small measure, and it would quickly escalate in years to come. 1 Much of the Jewish migration out of the North Side and into St. Louis Park was connected to the wider movement of White Americans out of the inner city and into the suburbs in the decades following World War II; these moves were largely facilitated by the widespread economic growth and government programs, most notably the G.I. Bill, or Serviceman’s Readjustment Act, which offered low-cost mortgages to returning veterans. The relationship between Jewish migration out of the city and the larger movement of “White Flight” was complicated by the fact that many in Minnesota did not consider Jews to be “White” at the time, and Jews were still prevented from buying property in many towns. Nevertheless, the migration to the suburbs was a substantial move for many Jewish families to raise their social standing. The rapidly growing suburban environment of St. Louis Park, still with close proximity to the city proper, was particularly attractive to families, who made up the vast majority of Jewish North Side transplants to this area. 2
Unlike many other Minnesota suburbs which were still dominated by farmland, Saint Louis Park was especially desirable because it was a quickly developing suburb, with lots of new and affordable housing units, and unused land already slated and ready for development. 3 Jews, in particular, were attracted to St. Louis Park because, unlike many other nearby suburbs, the neighborhood had no restrictions on Jewish access to housing. Proximity to the city was another largely important factor in Jewish settlement in St. Louis Park because most Jews still worked in urban environments rather than farming or agriculture.
"Anti-Semitism is stronger here than anywhere I have ever lived...people of all groups...make the most blatant statements against Jews with the calm assumption that they are merely stating facts."
Anti-Semitic housing restrictions were not unique to suburban areas. The city of Minneapolis had long been host to a variety of discriminatory housing and hiring practices that targeted Jews. Shocked at the level of growing anti-Semitism he observed in the city, journalist Selden Menefee was told by one Jewish inhabitant that, “Anti-Semitism is stronger here than anywhere I have ever lived...people of all groups...make the most blatant statements against Jews with the calm assumption that they are merely stating facts.” 4 The acute rise of anti-semitic activity during the 1920s and 1930s also contributed to many families' decisions to leave the city limits, despite efforts of Minneapolis Mayor Hubert H. Humphrey’s Council on Human Relations to combat such discrimination. 5 By the first decade post-war, almost thirty percent of Minneapolis Jews had already made the move to St. Louis Park. 6
Of course, Jews were not the only victims of discrimination in Minneapolis. Restrictive housing covenants written up by Minneapolis property owners in the early twentieth century similarly barred African Americans from many of the same neighborhoods from which Jews were exiled at the beginning of the century. Like Jews, African Americans populated the Minneapolis North Side in large numbers, at least in part because both groups were unable to buy property in many neighborhoods well into the 1950s and 60s. The African-American and Jewish populations of the neighborhood lived relatively harmoniously during the thirties and forties, though dynamics began to change in the 50s as Jews started moving out of the neighborhood. Late Civil rights leader and former resident of the Minneapolis North Side, Harry Davis, referenced the similar low socio-economic and marginalized statuses of these communities as creating a sense of camaraderie between the two groups. 7 However, in the 1950s and 1960s, African-Americans in North Minneapolis were not afforded the same opportunities to move into the suburbs that their Jewish neighbors were increasingly taking advantage of; instead, African-Americans were barred by racist federal loan policies and the deliberately segregationist actions of the Federal Housing Administration. 8 These frustrations along with a myriad of other institutional injustices against African-Americans brought to light by the Civil Rights Movement all contributed to anger and bitterness in the community that erupted in riots in the summer of 1967, alongside many other American cities. These riots, and the racial unrest surrounding the neighborhood, further increased Jewish migration out of the North Side. Even as many Jews were supportive of and participants in the Civil Rights Movement, they continued to move out of Black neighborhoods for White suburbs at a rapid rate.
As Minneapolis Jews moved to the suburbs in the fifties and sixties, they underwent a major socio-economic shift. In 1946 only five percent of Minneapolis Jews occupied professional or semi-professional positions; however, by 1971 this figure had risen to ninety percent. For the first time, Jews were making more money on average than their non-Jewish counterparts, both White and Black, and were more highly educated. 9 Though still not as assimilated into mainstream Minnesota culture as other European immigrant groups, Minnesota Jews were beginning to benefit from aspects of White privilege in Minnesota for the first time, leaving their former African American neighbors, and much of their urban immigrant identity behind as they began to organize their community in a suburban setting.
Hyman Berman and Linda Mack Schloff, Jews In Minnesota: The People of Minnesota (St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2002), 53. ↩
Hyman Berman and Linda Mack Schloff, Jews In Minnesota: The People of Minnesota (St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2002), 62. ↩
Saint Louis Park Historical Society, “Jewish Migration to St. Louis Park”, The Re-Echo: Journal of the St Louis Park Historical Society, March 2012, 1. ↩
Kirsten Delegard. “Gentiles Only”. The Historyapolis Project, March 6th 2015. http://historyapolis.com/gentiles/ ↩
Hyman Berman and Linda Mack Schloff, Jews In Minnesota: The People of Minnesota (St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2002), 49. ↩
Weber, Laura. "From Exclusion to Integration: The Story of Jews in Minnesota." MNOPEDIA. September 14, 2015. Accessed April 26, 2016. http://www.mnopedia.org/exclusion-integration-story-jews-minnesota.nbsp; ↩
KARE 11 Minneapolis and St. Paul, July 10, 2007. http://archive.kare11.com/news/article/259164/2/North-Minneapolis-Past-and-Presentnbsp; ↩
Scott Goldberg, “North Minneapolis: Past and Present” KARE 11 Minneapolis and St. Paul, July 10, 2007. http://archive.kare11.com/news/article/259164/2/North-Minneapolis-Past-and-Present ↩
Hyman Berman and Linda Mack Schloff, Jews In Minnesota: The People of Minnesota (St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2002), 56. ↩