Southgate Triangle

There are many sides to living in the Southgate Triangle Neighborhood – all of them positive.

Not to be confused with the other famous geographical triangle, the Southgate Triangle Neighborhood is central to most of Missoula so you’ll never feel lost. Nor will you be at a loss for things to do. There is a little of everything in this neighborhood, from brick homes built in the 1960′s on larger lots to craftsman and bungalow styles built in the 1930′s and 40′s along Brooks Street. There are also commercial businesses. Most notably of course is the Southgate Mall. This triangular neighborhood is a result of Missoula’s strange and intriguing historical layout and the Bitterroot Spur Railroad tracks that run through the area. You can have the quiet comfort of a residential street yet still easily get where you need to be almost anywhere in town. If you prefer to bike or walk, you can access Missoula’s trail system quickly as well. And the diversity of the population from students to retirees means you’re sure to find commonality with your neighbors and fellow Missoulians.

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From all three corners, this busy neighborhood manages to maintain a striking balance with residential tranquility.

In the midst of the commercial center near the Southgate Mall, there are residential enclaves that exist at a peaceful, slower pace, despite their proximity to the popular western Montana shopping center. The slanted streets make for safe neighborhoods with low traffic flow. Within the Southgate Triangle Neighborhood there are several green space areas with efforts underway to enhance them even further. Boyd Park is expanding its playground and installing a covered picnic structure. There is also McLeod Park on Kent Avenue, with basketball courts and an open play area. Bellevue Park, located near the Bellevue neighborhood, serves as an ideal gathering space for many of the nearby residents. Smaller triangular patches of land also exist in this neighborhood. That’s simply the nature of the unusual street layout. Neighbors have made an effort to landscape some of these spaces that are too small to build on or to convert to a full-scale park. These small spots of beauty add to the unique shape of the Southgate Triangle Neighborhood.

There was a time when very little existed in the Triangle except the shape itself, which is formed by the railroad tracks and Brooks. Today, Missoula’s trail system parallels the railroad tracks, making it easy and safe for walkers and bikers to get downtown or to the University. Before there was much on this side of town, there was still a recreational outlet for Missoula’s golf community at the Missoula Country Club. The club’s private 18-hole championship golf course is very close to the Southgate Triangle Neighborhood and continues to support a large membership within the community. The convenient access to all of Missoula’s recreation opportunities, most notably Highway 93 to the Bitterroot Valley, makes the Southgate Triangle Neighborhood a good jumping off point for outdoor activity.

The neighborhood also offers a major destination to Missoula and western Montana. Shoppers descend upon the Southgate Mall at all times of the year. Christmas, of course, brings Santa to the mall and is a particularly busy season. Easter is hopping too, especially when the Easter Bunny makes an appearance for photo ops with the kids. One day out of the year though, the mall gets even more attention from people who aren’t even setting foot inside. The City of Missoula fireworks display on the Fourth of July is hosted annually at the Southgate Mall and can be seen from miles around. In addition to lighting up the night, the event includes music and other entertainment, like the Silvertip Skydivers. Other events hosted by the mall include art shows for school children, a monthly Kids Klub offering a free craft and creativity program, and even classic car expos and a pet parade.

Missoula is a highly involved community with many strong non-profit organizations. Interestingly enough three of them are located within the Southgate Triangle Neighborhood. The Missoula YMCA has brought families together for decades. Kids participate in YMCA basketball and soccer programs and many residents are members of the Y’s fitness center. The headquarters for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Missoula is also in the Southgate Triangle Neighborhood. Many Missoulians participate in this program to offer guidance and mentoring to youth. Big Brothers Big Sisters sponsors an annual bowl-a-thon that is always a pin-tumbling good time. Another wonderful organization headquartered here is Opportunity Resources Corporate Offices on Russell Street. Opportunity Resources seeks to enrich the lives of individuals with disabilities, particularly by providing employment and housing as well as other support including recreation, art, transportation, nursing, and personal care.

So if you were to have the birds’ eye view of this oddly shaped neighborhood, you probably wouldn’t see all of the different features it offers. Those who live here on the ground know that no matter how you look at the neighborhood, you always get a good angle.

The level land that is now home to the Southgate Mall was once dominated by lumberyards and sawmills. Apparently though, there was another, more entertaining attraction formerly on the mall grounds. The State Drive-In Movie Theater once screened movies to popcorn crunching motorists looking for a good flick on an ever pleasant Missoula summer evening.

The Southgate Triangle Neighborhood was also once part of the Jefferson Grade School neighborhood. The school itself is no longer used for elementary students, but Missoula Public Schools still makes use of the structure. It is now the Jefferson Fine Arts Building and houses several public school musical programs. It is an incredible asset to the schools to have this separate space dedicated to fine arts. And it just may have something to do with Missoula’s distinction as one of the Best 100 Communities for Music Education.

To channel that artistic energy even further, the Southgate Triangle Neighborhood has joined forces with the South 39th Street Neighborhood to take part in a citywide effort to beautify traffic signal boxes. Artists throughout Missoula were selected to transfer their creativity to what may be among the most mundane staples of our infrastructure – the signal boxes for traffic lights. These utilitarian features often go unnoticed, but by bringing Missoula-themed artistry to them, public works become public art. Read more about the project here.

Many of us remember the various ways we kept up on the comings and goings of our hometowns and neighborhoods. Whether it was through the grapevine, a community group, or the weekly newspaper, we had a resource for information and an outlet to share our thoughts. The LiveMissoula! neighborhood blogs revisit that concept in a new way by providing an open, online destination where neighborhood stories can be posted and shared. To contribute to the discussion, we encourage you to add your comments. If you have an idea for a story, contact the Neighborhood Volunteer Advocate listed under each neighborhood’s Fast Facts pages.