Can a new vision for Interstate 94 repair historic harm in Rondo?

An aerial view of Interstate 94 in the Twin Cities
Interstate 94 runs through the Rondo neighborhood with a view toward Minneapolis above the Victoria Street bridge, March 14, 2022 in St. Paul, Minn.
Derek Montgomery for MPR News File

More than a generation ago, the construction of Interstate 94 dug a deep trench through the middle-class Black neighborhood of Rondo in St. Paul.

The freeway destroyed hundreds of houses. More than 600 Black families were forced to move. Homeowners never saw fair compensation for the destruction of their homes. Renters got nothing. 

Now, community members are pitching ideas for how to repair some of that harm. A group called ReConnect Rondo has proposed putting a concrete cap over a stretch of the highway roughly between Lexington Avenue and Dale Street and using the new space to build a Black cultural district. The goal is to bring green space, housing, jobs and economic renewal to the surrounding neighborhood.

The local effort is part of a larger national conversation about how new transportation projects could be used to rectify historical injustice. 

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On Thursday, MPR News host Angela Davis talked about the history and future of the historic Rondo neighborhood. 


North Star Journey was made possible in part with funds from the Legacy Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment‘s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.