Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Discovering historic & vibrant downtown Fargo November 12, 2012

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A view of the 300 block on North Broadway, including signage for the Fargo Theatre, built in 1926 as a cinema and vaudeville theatre. The restored theatre is on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as a venue for independent and foreign films, concerts, plays and more.

NOT EVEN THE SHROUD of gray mist and gloom which wrapped around Fargo in the late afternoon of a bone-chilling Saturday in early November could quell my enthusiasm for this historic downtown in a city I’ve only begun to explore.

This is my kind of downtown with historic buildings and a vibe that is both vibrant and subdued. I’d feel as comfortable here glammed for an evening on the town as I would kicking about in my jeans and buffalo plaid flannel shirt.

Under the protective canopy of the Fargo Theatre, I shot this street scene.

In a brief walk of not quite two blocks—shortened by the drizzle and my desire to keep my camera out of the rain—I realized that I need to revisit this downtown when time and weather allow for a more intimate look.

I swung my camera around to focus on the advertising on this stately brick building just off Broadway.

A quick visual tour revealed well-kept brick buildings with great architectural detail, vintage neon signs, advertising painted on brick walls, art in the sidewalk and a general impression that those who live and work here care about this place.

Sidewalk art featuring the Fargo Theatre.

It’s no wonder that in 2011, Forbes magazine recognized downtown Fargo as one of the nation’s top 10 most transformed neighborhoods.

If you want big box retailers and miles of cement and malls, all of which you could find in Anytown, U.S.A., Fargo has that too, over in West Fargo.

Almost anywhere you go in Fargo, you will encounter railroad tracks, even in the heart of downtown, here in the 400 block of North Broadway.

But the downtown, oh, the downtown, that to me holds the personality of Fargo as an historic river and railroad and farming community, appreciative of its past, adapting to the present and aware of its future.

Looking toward the 400 block of North Broadway, a broader view of the image above.

Signage details on buildings in the 400 block of North Broadway.

More sidewalk art, with the names Ed & Hildegarde Kraus embedded.

Across from the Fargo Theatre, O’Day Cache’ , located in the building labeled Fargoan.

Another shot of downtown, from the corner of Fourth and Broadway.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling