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Bob Dylan's Dinkytown

Hey did you know that Bob Dylan is from Minnesota and lived in Dinkytown? Actually Dylan’s time in Dinkytown, though short, plays an important role in the myth of “Bob.? Dylan arrived in Dinkytown in the fall of 1959 intending to enroll at the University of Minnesota. After spending about 15 months and never enrolling at the U of MN, he headed off to NYC and the rest is history. However it was in Dinkytown that Dylan traded his electric guitar for an acoustic, was introduced to folk music, and most importantly to Dylan’s early career, heard Woody Guthrie and read Bound for Glory for the first time.

Since I work in Dinkytown, I thought I would take pictures of the some of places made famous by Bob Dylan during his short stay.

As most Bob-philes know, Bob Dylan lived above Gray’s Campus Drug. Here it is today, now a chi-chi pasta bar.

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In Chronicles Vol.1 Dylan said that his room ($30.00 a month rent!) over the drug store was a small room overlooking the alley. This picture shows that alley.

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This is the house where the so-called Party Tape was made. The Party Tape is one of the first known recordings of Bob Dylan actually performing. You can hear the Party Tape at the Minnesota History Center.

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Here, sadly is the site of the 10:00 Scholar – a coffeeshop where Dylan performed. It has been a parking lot for as long as I can remember, at least 30 years. The 10:00 Scholar was a beat coffee shop much like the coffee shops at Harvard Square where Joan Baez was starting to get some notice. Koerner Ray and Glover also got their start at the 10:00 and this is where Dylan met "Spider" John Koerner.

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Directly across the 10:00 Scholar was McCosh Bookstore, where Dylan used to hang out. It is still a bookstore but I’m pretty sure it is not the same building. In Chronicles, Dylan describes a guy named Jon Pankake who lived above McCosh. Pankake was a huge influence on Dylan's path toward folk music.

UPDATE! According to an entry in the comments below, the site of McCosh Bookstore was across the street from this site. It was right next to the 10:00 Scholar and is now a parking lot. See the picture above.

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Besides living above Gray’s Campus Drug, Dylan also lived in the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity house, although he never pledged. The Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity is now located on 5th Street, which I found confusing because in Chronicles, Dylan describes watching the cars go by on University Avenue from the frat. I found out that Sigma Alpha Mu was on University Avenue in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Here is the Frat (oops Sorority) House currently at the address where Sigma Alpha Mu was located. To my semi-trained eye, it looks like this building was built in the 70’s.

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You can’t tell by the photo, but Interstate 35 is 50 yards away from this site. I wouldn’t be surprised if the original fraternity house was demolished when the Interstate went in and this house was built later.

Finally, you don’t find any plaques or celebrations about Dylan’s time in Dinkytown. Minnesotans are not like that, however I found this sign interesting. During Dylan’s time in Dinkytown, he also performed at a little pizza shack in St. Paul called the Purple Onion. There is a coffee house in Dinkytown called the Purple Onion, an obvious homage to Bob’s time here.

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So there you go, the spots that Bob Dylan made famous. As you can see, not a lot remains as it was some 45 plus years ago, Minnesotan’s don’t cotton to calling attention to itself or preserving it's past.

If anyone has any other information, more addresses, corrections, etc. please let me know in the comments section.

Comments

The fraternities at the U have probably moved around more than you think.

My fraternity (Triangle) used to be on 4th St and 13th Ave where there is now a little apartment complex. Now we're over on 12th Ave and 6th St and the house to our south on 12th Ave, which is now a Montessori school, used to be Kappa Sigma, which moved over to the Row shortly after I graduated (1997).

We recently sold one of our houses (1112 6th St SE) to a rental property owner. Before we owned it, it was the chapter house for Acacia and was also previously a chapter house for Delta Upsilon. My understanding is it was originally built as a sorority house, but I've yet to figure out which one.

Thanks Mark, I bet a lot of people go the the Sigma Mu fraternity house on 5th street, thinking it's the place where Dylan stayed. I thought so until I read the passage in Chronicles about BD looking over University Avenue forcing me to look into the issue a little bit more.

Dean: Thank you for the info on Dinkytown and Dylan. I do want to make a few corrections. I was raised on 14th Ave. in the 50's and as I recall McCosh's bookstore was on the corner where the Hollywood Video sign in now located. The Coffee House, again as I recall, was next door. The picture you have labeled as McCosh's is a relatively new building and the corner store, "House of Hanson" was there ever since I can remember but McCosh's bookstore was directly across the street. You might want to check with Doug Grinna, owner of Al's Breakfast. If I am not mistaken, Bob probably ate there. I hope this helps. I've thought about writing a history of Dinkytown but I'm now living in Oregon and have other priorities. Growing up there in the 50's was alot of fun.
Rod Augustine

Dean, how the heck did I miss this post? Very interesting stuff. Also, Jon Pankake's wife, Marcia, is a librarian here at the U (soon to be retired). They are still active in the folk music scene.

Thanks Rod! I made a correction in the body of the entry. I mostly did research via the net so it was hard to pinpoint the location of McCosh.

"Here is the Frat House currently at the address where Sigma Alpha Mu was located."

One other slight correction: That "frat house" is actually Alpha Chi Omega, which is a sorority. :-)

I was a frequent visitor at McCosh's bookstore on 4th St SE, just east of 14th Ave SE and east of the corner eat shop, then named Bridgeman's (where I seldom went) . . . my most notable purchase at McCosh's was a pbk. edition of Odi et Amo, transl. by the stunningly brilliant Classics prof., Roy Arthur Swanson . . . RAS also took over the ideological PoliSci classes of my guru, Dr. Mulford Q.. Sibley, when he was on leave, and on a single occasion, led the class, in two vehicles, to Sib's residence just east of East Bank Campus, in the scenic Prospect Park neighborhood, surrounding Tower Hill Park, just south of thundering University Ave SE . . . where we were able to GAZE at Sib's extravagently ENORMOUS private library . . . my soul was naked, and I was in total awe . . .
The location of McCosh's bookstore on 4th St SE was verified au telephone last evening by (then) graduate student Larry Kieffer, now a high mucky in the little-known field of Neo-Orbic Rhinoplasty Dolls . . .

There may be no plaques regarding Bob Dylan in Dinkytown, but there is his mural painted on the wall of Autographics (corner of 14th and Fourth street) featuring his "Positively 4th street" song. More information could be found here:
http://www.wakemag.org/content/2007/01/24/stories/1254

Thanks Olga, I know, I think they painted that mural literally days after I made this post. Probably should have updated the site. Going to the Dylan Symposium this weekend?

Sorry, I missed Dylan Symposium. I plan to go to a walking tour of Dinkytown in April arranged by Waisman to see many of places you've mentioned on your website...
How was symposium?

Hi,
I'm going to Hibbing for Dylandays in May and may stop by Dinkytown. Thanks for the information.

Maxi

do you know the address of Dylan's home in Hibbing MN?

I don't know the exact address but if you are up in Hibbing, check out the bar/restaurant called "Zimmys." They cater to all Dylan fans and could easily tell you how to get to his house.

Thanks Jeff L., I'd love to hear some of your reaction to my album reviews.

Thank you very much for the tour of Dinkytown. It is thorough and personal and the photos are exactly what a rabid Bob fan would like to see. We enjoyed a wonderful week in Hibbing in May for Dylan Days and regretted very much that we could not afford the $$ or time for a side trip to Minneapolis. Your guided e-tour is a valuable substitute.

Nina and Charlie from Brooklyn NY, in between escapades out on the D train.

Hi,
We had a GREAT time in MN during DylanDays! We went inside his old house and his high school. We spent alot of time at Zimmys talking to Dylan's cousin. We also saw Echo's house. I hope that all Dylan fans will be able to visit Hibbing.
Also there is a mural on 4th Street in Dinkytown which has a picture of Dylan.

Bobby D was a Student at the University. He worked for the Daily, and was a journalism major.

I lived above the Scholar coffeehouse from August 1964 until the fire in December 1965 which started in the "Dirty Grocery" next door. (The sign in front of the Scholar said "10 O'Clock Scholar," but nobody called it that.) I can tell you that McCosh's bookstore was located on 4th St. next door to Bridgeman's when I started grad school in 1963, and presumably that's where it was when Dylan lived in Dinkytown. Somewhere between 1963 and 1966, Bridgeman's expanded and forced McCosh to move his store. Despite a "sit-in" protest at Bridgeman's -- students ordered coffee and kept getting refills to prevent higher-paying customers from sitting at the counter -- McCosh had to relocate. That's when he moved to 14th St. If this happened before the fire, the Scholar would have been more or less across the street from McCosh. Directly across from the Scholar, however, was the Tub laundromat.

McCosh's bookstore was next to Bridgeman's. Mr McCosh was this little old guy who threatened to cutt off your fingers if you took anything from his store. There were apt bldgs across from McCosh's bookstore and there were apts on top of those stores were Mama Dee first started out. I think those apts are still there.

McCosh's bookstore was next to Bridgeman's. Mr McCosh was this guy who threatened to cutt off your fingers if you took anything from his bookstore. Across from McCosh's book store were apts that were located above local business stores and that's were Mama Dee's Italian restaurant started out. I think those apts are still there.

I live in the historical landmark Florence Court, across the street from the sorority house you pictured. The story has always been among residents that Dylan lived in one of the railroad houses in florence court (possibly living with his brother?). It would be great to find out if this is a fact, or folklore. The sad part is all five of the historic homes in Florence Court are proposed for demolition by CAG Development to the MHNA. I know the houses are truly significant after research at the historical society (the original designer Jeremiah Spear lived in the 1018 house on university), and if Dylan lived there, that would truly be significant to the cultural fabric of the neighborhood. If any body knows about Dylan living in Florence Court, please email daveed1@gmail.com and let me know! Feel free to check out my facebook.com webpage for a group that wants to save florence court:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=17626255731

am interested in using one of the photos u posted on this page. please contact me at email. thanks!

Mr Zimmerman, still owes me $2, from when he was short for lunch at the old lunch counter at Grays, He did promise to pay me back, when he got some money. Wonder if he has the $2 now?

Dylan apparently used to hang out at (and sponge guitar strings from) the Podium guitar shop In Dinkytown. I think the Podium is still in its original location on 14th Ave., which apparently was in the vicinity of the Scholar. See this link from the Podium web site blog:

http://thepodiumblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/podiums-50th-anniversary.html

By the way, for those who do not know, the Podium continues to be an absolute treasure for anyone interested in acoustic guitars. The connection to Dylan only sweetens the already wonderful vibe of the place.

I would like to confirm the information about McCosh Bookstore being located on the SE corner of 13th Ave. and 5th Street, directly across the street from the House of Hanson and just to the left of the 10.00 Scholar. It's posible that there was another small shop between McCosh and the Scholar, that I can't recall. I grew up near Dinkytown in the 1950's and 1960's and often bought used books at McCosh. I remember it as being only a used book store, with dusty books stacked up to the ceiling.

Thanks for the most enjoyable article on Dinkeytown (and the added comments). i'm sure there's a book in there somewhere, hope so.

Very interesting and wonderfully illustrated. Thank you from Alexandria, Virginia

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