Anoka County history: Longest Main Street in Minnesota

I wanted to write about Anoka’s Main Street last fall but after talking with Greg Lee, Anoka’s operations engineer, who said it was not finished and that I should wait until May, which with this crazy spring, I’m not sure it is May yet.

But here goes anyway. I am told that all that is left to do is to install the new hanging baskets and the large planters.

It looks just great and so many citizens and business owners like it and said it was worth the time and turmoil last summer.

I heard a lady where I live say they did it all wrong.

She said it took too long and all the stores were hurt.

What she did not know was that they were in on the plan to do it one side and one block at a time and are very pleased with the finished product.

Thank you to Mr. Lee, your crew, and the city council.

But now for the historical part.

I wrote last year about the red bricks from the old clay hole in Coon Rapids and the tan bricks from the Kelsey brickyard in Andover.

Bricks are a major decorative element in the Main Street improvements.

Councilmember Jeff Weaver said, “It gives us that charming historical look”.

So many towns have a main drag, but not all of them are called Main Street.

In my research, I could not find many towns in Minnesota where the main road in town was called Main Street, including Sauk Centre, where Sinclair Lewis, the author of “Main Street,” grew up.

By the way, our Main Street is not just the city of Anoka’s.

Take a look at any old or any new map of Anoka County and you will see that Main Street starts at Greenhaven Road on the west side of Anoka and goes east 22 miles to the Washington County line at Hugo.

It is not only one of the oldest in Minnesota, it may be the longest.

Of course, there is the traffic problem, which will only get worse as we continue to grow.

Checking with the state transportation department, Main and Ferry in Anoka has the highest daily car count in the county and is also the second highest daily car count in the state highway system.

I say eat your heart out Maple Grove. our Main Street is not only one of the oldest in the state it is also the longest.

Not only that, it is real, not make believe.

Editor’s note: Tom Ward is a member of the Anoka County Historical Society board of directors.

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