Lake Street running east to west across Minneapolis has long been a strip for automobile sales, repair garages, car washes, auto parts stores, and just cruising in your car. While most auto sales lots have migrated far out of the city, Lake Street once hosted dozens of new and used car lots. Up into the ’70s Lake Street was home to more car dealers, gas stations, and repair garages than anywhere else in the city.
A large tractor manufacturing plant once sat at East Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue, now the site of Target and Cub stores. Established as 1873 as Minneapolis Harvester Works, the operation expanded many times over the years becoming Minneapolis Moline, one of the largest agricultural machinery plants in the country building tractors, engines and farm implements. Toro Motor Company was founded in 1914 at 3042 Snelling Avenue, Minneapolis. Farmers from throughout the midwest would tour the factory lots to pick out equipment to be shipped back to their local farms by train. While Toro still manufactures lawn care machines, there are no more tractor factories nor new car dealerships on Lake Street.
Today you can still cruise East Lake Street in Longfellow for used cars, auto parts, and repair garages. These are mostly small local businesses, or locally owned and managed retail franchises. It can be hard to find a good mechanic to rely upon for keeping autos and small engine equipment well tuned. By shopping locally for services, talking to neighbors, and checking online reviews, you can find local businesses and workers who do a good job at a good price.