KEYC - A Look Back on the History of Front Street

A Look Back on the History of Front Street

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The City of Mankato was first organized in 1858.

It’s starting point? Along the river at a place known today as Front Street.

Blue Earth County Historical Society Communications Manager Heather Harren says, “Front Street was basically the Main Street of Mankato. It’s where you did all of your shopping for clothes and food and that’s where the dime stores were, the counters were where you would go to have your malts.”

With easy access to the Minnesota River, the city quickly started in that area and expanded outward.

But changes were soon to come.

After more than a century, Front Street began to lose its charm. It all started with the advent of the shopping centers. The Mankato Place Mall and the Madison East Center in the late 1960s, followed by the River Hills Mall in the early 1990s.

Harren says, “Urban renewal really hit Mankato hard in the 1960s and 1970s. The Mankato Place Mall was constructed around the street and buildings were incorporated into the mall and urban renewal really hit the 200 block of North Front Street to the 400 block of South Front Street.”

But then the Madison East Center added something that Front St. couldn’t offer.

Harren says, “The Madison East Center went in 1968 and there was tremendous parking that you didn’t have to pay for and there was kind of that shift that some stores were downtown went to hilltop and then shopping was split until the River Hills Mall came.”

But now we’re seeing a shift as businesses make their return to the Old Town area as Front Street is making a comeback.

-KEYC News 12