Excelsior is another geographically small city that packs a punch despite its small size. It is only .7 of a square mile, but holds 2,188 residents as of the 2010 census. Transportation to and from Excelsior homes is primarily via east west running Minnesota State Highway 7, and the city is well known for its little shops, fun restaurants and annual art fair on the water in the west metro.
Excelsior homes also run the spectrum from one bedroom condos to multi level sprawling lake mansions. This is a city that built up slowly and steadily over time too. Not like when the suburbs sprawl and a community where is built everything is built primarily inside of one specific decade. Excelsior steadily increased in population since the late 1800’s with a little growth spurt in the 80’s when some low rise buildings offered the convenient option of Excelsior condos.
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Part of the appeal of Excelsior homes is proximity to Lake Minnetonka as well as proximity to downtown. Once a driver is on Highway 7, it’s a straight shot into uptown, or various north south intersecting highways can reach the rest of the community such as 494, 169 and Highway 100.
As the community was developing the residential neighborhoods, Excelsior’s Water Street was gaining a reputation for its shopping. After the Excelsior Amusement Park closed, the city expanded its reputation for great dining with the opening of Maynard’s and the Bayside Grille overlooking Lake Minnetonka and keeping Excelsior in the hearts of Minnesotans as a destination.
And Excelsior has always been a destination city. Originally incorporated in the 1850’s, it was created as a vacation get-a-way for Minneapolis and St. Paul residents especially during beautiful Minnesota summers. Near the turn of the century, there was a steamboat, The Minnehaha Steamboat; passengers could embark on a tour around Lake Minnetonka starting at the Excelsior port. The same boat has been restored and is in use again today.
Then in 1925 the Excelsior Amusement Park was opened which drew people from all around with its roller coaster, bumper cars, Ferris wheel, boat rides, fun house and carousel. It was a very popular destination especially during the 1940’s and 1950’s. Then in the 1960’s it gained in popularity with local teens as a great hang out destination. Unfortunately that led to some incidents of racial tensions and as the troubles continued drove the decline of the business’ reputation and its eventual demise in 1973. Now that land is condos, restaurants and a park area.