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Bohemian Flats

Bohemian Flats is a park in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States on the west bank of the Mississippi River below the Washington Avenue Bridge and adjacent to the University of Minnesota campus. The area, once known as Little Bohemia, was the site of a shanty town as Minneapolis was incorporated in 1867. European immigrants seeking employment in the city or at the mills at the nearby St. Anthony Falls settled there. The former housing structures and historic buildings no longer remain. The park is managed by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board as part of the Mississippi Gorge Regional Park, and it lies within the Mississippi National River Recreation Area.

The area known as "Bohemian Flats" was so named because a high percentage of the population came from Central Europe; the majority of the families occupying the area were Slovaks, Swedes, Czechs (Bohemians), and Germans. The census of 1900 shows the demographics of the area. Despite the name, the people who lived in Bohemian Flats were mostly Slovaks. A predominantly Bohemian community, from what is now the Czech Republic, lived in the Upper Levee in St. Paul before moving to the neighborhood around West 7th Street, where the Czech-Slovak Protective Society (CSPS) Hall still stands at the corner of Michigan Street. The Bohemians were followed by Italian immigrants to the Upper Levee. Many of these families moved to neighborhoods around West 7th Street and Payne Avenue, but Italian communities continued to occupy the Upper Levee and Swede Hollow until the houses were razed by the city in the 1950s.


The Bohemian Flats, first published in 1941, is a charming history of a small, isolated community that once lay on the west bank of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, tucked underneath the Washington Avenue bridge. From the 1880s to the 1940s the village was home to generations of Swedish, Norwegian, Czech, Irish, Polish, and especially Slovak immigrants. This book's vivid descriptions of their traditions and adaptations offer an unusual insight into Minnesota's multi-ethnic heritage.

The Bohemian Flats discusses the early years of settlement on the Flats, the lifeways and celebrations of the residents, and the razing of most of the neighborhood in 1932; it also provides recipes "From the Flats Kitchens." This edition contains a new section of pictures of the Flats and an introduction by ethnic historian Thaddeus Radzilowski, who describes the genesis of the book in the WPA and answers more questions about the identities of those who lived on the Bohemian Flats.