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Old Minneapolis crowdsources tales of the city

One day on a whim a couple of years ago, Jesse Jamison, who’d reluctantly joined Facebook, decided to start a group page that’s dedicated to Old Minneapolis.

Jamison, a history buff, saw it as a fun outlet “for me to go back in time in the city I love,” he says.  

At the time, he had no idea the page would take off the way it has, with thousands of “likes,” especially since he didn’t advertise it anywhere.

Right away people started sharing all kinds of anecdotes and details about the city’s past. “I don’t even know how it happened, but very quickly there were thousands of people there, and everyone was contributing great stuff,” says Jamison. “The photos are great but the stories people tell are priceless.”

Jamison, whose family is from the North Side, remembers his father's colorful tales of the city, going as far back as the 1930s.

He also has stories of his own. At the age of 13, he and a friend took a bus to downtown Minneapolis, not realizing it would end up there, he says. 

Afterward, they returned to downtown on the weekends. They liked to walk around “looking at everything,” he says, adding, “The city was so alive and exciting. I never wanted to leave.”  

Years later he got a downtown apartment, which he describes as a “cockroach-filled dump right behind the Basilica. It was horrible but it was downtown and I loved it.”

Besides reminiscences, the Old Minneapolis group has also been valuable for crowdsourcing historical information. Whenever there’s a question about the date of a photo or the address of a shuttered business, the page’s supporters “get together like a pack of history detectives, and in most cases, solve the mystery,” he says. “I’ve learned so much more about this great city from the contributors of this page.”

On the page, he tries to keep a mix of locations and time periods so that nobody gets bored, he says.  

Going forward, Jamison hopes that the page keeps growing and reaching more people, including “the older, nostalgic ones, and the younger ones who are just discovering Minneapolis' history,” he says.  

Source: Jesse Jamison, Old Minneapolis
Writer: Anna Pratt
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