There has been a long-winded debate and confusion over where the origin of the name “Dinkytown” originated. It has at least been in use since 1948 when the Dinkytown Business Association (DBA) was created. In the 2006 Bob Dylan exhibit at the Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota students who researched and created the Dinkytown portion of the exhibit may have found the correct answer.
Dinkytown named after a trolley?
After the talks with long-time tenants of the Dinkytown community the students discovered a recurring theme. Many people shared the same popular theory as Skott Johnson (President of the Dinkytown Business Association and owner of Autographics Printing). He believes that the name “Dinkytown” stems from the days when trolleys and rail cars were a common sight in the area. The little vehicles were referred to as “Dinkys.”
It's named Dinkytown because it's Dinky?
The students unearthed 3 other theories explaining the name “Dinkytown.” One comes from the fact that Dinkytown has always been a small, unique, and self-contained community within the city. Since it is small, the name makes sense.
Yet another theory is that there used to be a small theatre made up of only four rows, as a result it was called “The Dinky.”
Grodnik is Slavic word for Dinkytown
The last theory (and perhaps the most complicated) is that of a clothing business that used to be in Dinkytown. It’s name was the “Grodnik” and it’s even pictured in a mural in the ally between the Loring Pasta Barn and Shuang Cheng. When the name “Grodnik” is broken apart and is traced to its linguistic roots things get interesting. “Grod” stems from the Slavic word for town and “nik” refers to small size. The students also discovered that the firm or family that owned and operated the building went by the surname of Grodnik. It is quite possible they created the building.
Well there you have it; an answer with many answers. The most popular belief is that the name “Dinkytown” comes from the “Dinkys” that used to be found in the area. Maybe one day we’ll know for sure, but in the meantime we’ll leave it for interpretation. What is for sure, however, is that Dinkytown will continue to generate new meanings and connections with students, visitors, long-time residents and business owners for the visible future.