“There are few artists who have had a greater footprint on popular music, style, and artistry than Prince. He transformed the music scene in Minnesota and across the world, and he continues to inspire to this day. Prince was a proud Minnesotan through and through, and it is only fitting that we honor one of the greatest musical and creative icons in the community he called home.” —Governor Tim Walz
Just last June, on what would have been Prince’s 64th birthday, the 700 Block of First Avenue North was ceremonially renamed Prince Rogers Nelson Way. This tribute was part of the larger Crown Our Prince project, which also culminated in the nearly 100-foot-tall mural of Minneapolis’ favorite son that now looks out over the avenue and nightclub that he made world famous.
Not quite a year later, Prince has again been bestowed another stretch of road, this time a seven-mile span of Minnesota State Highway 5. From the east at Mitchell Road in Eden Prairie, the brand-new Prince Rogers Nelson Memorial Highway extends westward past Paisley Park and the site of Prince’s former Galpin Boulevard home in Chanhassen, all the way to Highway 41 near the shores of Lake Minnewashta.
Using purple ink, Governor Tim Walz officially christened Prince Rogers Nelson Memorial Highway during a ceremony outside Paisley Park, attended by family, friends, and former associates of the late legend.
“I think we can lay to rest that this is the coolest bill signing we’ll ever do,” said the governor, “I, for one, am just incredibly grateful to be a part of this celebration. But like so many Minnesotans, I’m just proud that Prince called Minnesota home.”
The original bill, House File (HF)717, was authored and introduced to the Minnesota State House on December 7, 2022, by Representative Lucy Rehm of Chanhassen (DFL). Rehm’s bill came to the floor for a vote on April 21, the 7th anniversary of Prince’s death, and was passed unanimously by the House, 121-0.
“Prince brought people together not only through his music, but through his advocacy of public library access, education, civil rights, and more,” declared Rehm in an earlier statement, “It is a tremendous privilege to work with Minnesotans and all the advocates to recognize and honor Prince’s contributions to our state, our country, and the world.”
Days after being passed in the house, the Minnesota Senate voted 55-5 in favor of the bill, before it was signed into law by Governor Walz last week.
So much history
It could be argued that even before being renamed in honor of Prince, at least part of this seven-mile expanse along Highway 5 represented some of the most famous roads in the North Star State. The number and the names of legendary artists who traveled this route out to Paisley Park—either to record, rehearse, perform, or visit with Prince—represent a who’s who of music history.
Hollywood has also traversed Highway 5 on numerous occasions, utilizing Paisley Park’s 12,500 square foot soundstage to film major motion pictures. And, Madison Avenue did the same, filming commercials on that same soundstage for some of the world’s most iconic brands.
And then, of course, there were the fans. Not just those here in the Twin Cities, but throngs of people from across the nation and the globe that have made their way out to Paisley Park for more than three decades, well before the current tours started.
Sometimes it was to witness one of Prince’s mythic late-night Love 4 One Another shows. Or, in later years, for Paisley Park After Dark events. And sometimes, just to see the building itself, even if it was only from the outside.
But perhaps it’s Prince’s sister Sharon Nelson, who really captured the true essence and history that this stretch of highway holds. “He rode up and down this highway all the time with his new music. He tested it all out. He would ride around with his engineers and see how it sounded inside the car.”
Imagine some of the songs we’re talking about, songs that immediately after they were recorded received their first proper listen via a cassette or compact disc in Prince’s car stereo along what is now Prince Rogers Nelson Memorial Highway.
The new highway signs bearing this designation will be erected soon. And, per a provision in Representative Rehm’s bill, they will indeed, be purple, something that the Minnesota Department of Transportation readily made an exception for.
Support Black local news
Help amplify Black voices by donating to the MSR. Your contribution enables critical coverage of issues affecting the community and empowers authentic storytelling.
Leave a Reply