Lost Waterways: An Examination of Bassett Creek in Minneapolis, MN

In many urban spaces, patterns of inequity and environmental justice follow historic hidden urban waterways which have detrimental effects in terms of bad soils, polluted waters, becoming dump sites, among others. Specifically, Bassett Creek in Minneapolis, Minnesota was examined by reviewing historic aerial and ground photographs, demographic data, development plans, and literature about other urban waterways. Scholars such as John R. Borchert, Anne Whiston Spirn, Dolores Hayden, and Jason King informed the project’s study of urban waterways and landscape. Unnavigable waterways and natural wetlands like Bassett Creek historically have been piped, filled, and drained to accommodate urban living. When hidden, the original waterway often is forgotten, but still appears in and influences the landscape in the form of soils unfit for building, sloped land, and a landscape prone to flooding. The intersection of race, place, and hydrology can be seen in these lost watery landscapes. The harmful impacts of hidden urban waterways like Bassett Creek disproportionately affect communities of color and communities of lower socioeconomic status. Bassett Creek also served to separate Near North from the rest of Minneapolis. This research paves the way for further research about Bassett Creek and other hidden urban waterways. It poses questions about agency of change and environmental justice.

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