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Feature

A photo of the Charles A. Egeberg Bicycle Shop on 517 Cedar Ave.

The Charles A. Egeberg Bicycle Shop on 517 Cedar Ave.

The faces of Cedar-Riverside

By Pauline Oo

Published on March 4, 2005.

On October 28, 1948, the Minnesota Daily ad promised moviegoers 80 percent less eyestrain (because of a "scientific new interior and projection design") and year-round comfort (thanks to "unvarying 70-degree air conditioning"). The single-screen Cedar Theater made it into history books not because it had ad-worthy goods to entice us through its doors, but because it was the first movie theater in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.

The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, a.k.a. the West Bank of the University's Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis, has a past as colorful as a bag of jelly beans. And unless you walk its streets, you might not know the stories that lie within its borders.

Last fall 15 students did just that.

In addition to trudging the streets, they interviewed residents and business owners, pored over documents in museums, sifted through truckloads of library archival material... What started as a class project for a College of Liberal Arts undergrad public history course soon became a treasure chest that deserved to be shared with the public.

The fruits of their work are on exhibit today at the Hennepin History Museum in Minneapolis. "Cedar-Riverside: Histories and Visions" showcases photographs, drawings, newspaper clippings, familiar and not-so-familiar objects, interviews and written observations, ticket stubs, and interactive information stations. The exhibit is essentially made up of five student projects: "Feature Presentation: The Cedar Theater Marquee Project," "The Minneapolis Cooperative Movement and the North Country Co-op: A History," "The Community: Celebrating 10 years of the Coyle Center," "Dania Hall: Cornerstone of a Community," and "Stories of Past and Present: A Lesson Plan."

"[This exhibit] stands as the most rewarding teaching experience of my career," says University history professor Kevin Murphy. "The students became so invested in these fascinating projects that they ceased to see themselves as students working on a class assignment. Instead, through their collaborations with community partners, they discovered the real value that historical interpretation and preservation can have within an urban community."

The Cedar Theater no longer plays first-run movies--its last movie aired in the early 1980s--but its marquee still shines brightly. The 57-year-old theater is today the Cedar Cultural Center, home to live bands and musical acts from around the globe. Which is befitting, really, considering the neighborhood's early inhabitants--as well as many of its current residents--also came from distant lands.

The "Cedar-Riverside: Histories and Visions" exhibit is free and runs through Sunday, March 20, 2005. For museum direction and hours, see www.hhmuseum.org.

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