Historic North Loop

Historic North Loop

The North Loop has been through some dramatic ups and downs over the past 135 years. From the late 1880s to the early 1930s, it grew into a booming distribution and manufacturing center. Companies built large warehouses and factories along the railroad tracks, using our extensive rail system to get their products in and out as Americans migrated west and north.

Milky Way candy bars, Creamette pasta and Lavoris mouthwash were among the products getting their starts in the North Loop. A half million Model Ts were built at Ford’s assembly plant here, and farm implement dealers including John Deere received and shipped scores of plows, tractors and other machinery needed to break the prairie soil.

But then the Great Depression, along with a decline in rail shipping, led companies to close down or move elsewhere. Many of the old warehouses and factories fell into disrepair as they sat along deserted tracks and the downtown business district expanded away from here. 

Now, though, the North Loop has been rediscovered, reinvigorated and transformed into the dynamic urban neighborhood and popular entertainment district that we see today. 

In our Loop Back series of videos and articles, you’ll see historic photos of familiar buildings and hopefully gain a new appreciation for the role they played in our city’s growth and development. 

Photos courtesy of: Hennepin County Library, Minnesota Historical Society, Library of Congress, Star Tribune and family members of former North Loop business owners.

Mars Incorporated, a company that’s now a global business empire, got its start in Minneapolis. And the treat that launched its astronomical success, the Milky Way bar, was born at...

To meet the growing demand for burlap and cotton bags from the city’s milling industry, Northern Bag built this sprawling factory and warehouse in 1920. The building’s tall tower wasn’t just...

While it was built by a visionary and expanded by innovators, the history of Colonial Warehouse also includes mentions of gangsters, bandits and bootleggers. The building’s first three stories went up...