Nicollet is the only inhabited island on the Mississippi and was named for Joseph Nicollet, who explored and mapped the mighty river in the 1830's. This 48-acre limestone oasis was once a busy industrial center of factories, mills and ice houses. It was also, for a time, a fashionable address so while the early commercial structures are mostly gone, 22 Victorian-era homes have survived. All but two of them date from 1864 to 1898.
The southern end of the island has a park, an event center and upscale hotel/restaurant that occupy the remains of a former boiler works/door company. DeLasalle Catholic High School takes up most of the middle section, and the residential neighborhood lies on the northern third. There are only a few little streets lined with homes in various states of repair - from beautifully restored to the interesting, bohemian paint job - but it's a fun putter on a sunny day. When the trees obscure the downtown skyline you might forget you're in the middle of a city. And those really are chickens you hear: one of the residents raises them!
The island is attached - by the Hennepin Ave. bridge - to downtown on the one side and Northeast Minneapolis on the other so it's easy to combine this with a visit to either place. I'm attaching these websites with some nice pictures of the houses and a little history:
I've also mapped out a favorite riverfront hike that includes the island: see "One Great Walk on the Riverfront." There is a small parking lot on the west side of the island but it's really more fun to leave your car downtown or on the northeast side and walk to it via the Hennepin Bridge.
This is the view from our table at Gallery 8 Café in the Walker Art Center. The sculpture is on one of the terraces of the old building there. The church in the distance is Basilica of St Mary in Minneapolis, which was built between 1907 & 1915
The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices.
It's worth stopping in and seeing how crazy medicine was considered. Check out the web page at: