A Spring-Like Walk to a streets.mn Writers’ Workshop

On Saturday, February 27, I attended the second annual streets.mn writers’ workshop and thanks to the 58° temperature, I took my time getting there on foot to remember what it feels like to shed my winter gear.

This post is a recap of my journey to the workshop but I would be remiss if I didn’t pass along my main takeaway from the workshop: the streets.mn board genuinely wants to grow the streets.mn community and welcome new voices to the table. Writers and readers who I talked with mentioned that they like the range of topics and writing styles offered on the blog. I felt empowered as a person who doesn’t have the educational or professional background in land use and transportation. Several people went out of their way to compliment my previous posts and I’d like to pay it forward by encouraging you to start writing (or return to writing) if you’ve been sitting on the fence (or side of the pool or on the beach of your favorite Minnesota Lake). Come on in, the water’s fine!

Walk Stats

  • Distance: 9.7 miles
  • Elapsed time: 4 hours
  • Moving time: 3 hours

The Route

Walk location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Starting at Lyndale Avenue South & West Minnehaha Parkway, we walked  east on the Grand Rounds trail.

When I walk to or from downtown Minneapolis, I try to change-up my north/south route. For this walk, we chose to to head north on 5th Avenue South. We stayed on 5th Avenue South until 31st Street East. Then we zig-zagged our way to Park Avenue and stopped at FIKA Cafe at the American Swedish Institute for lunch.

We continued on Park Avenue until we reached the Grand Rounds Trail at West River Parkway near the Mill City Museum where we made a pit stop.

We headed east on the trail and at 13th Avenue South, we cut over to the Dinkytown Trail and crossed over Northern Pacific Bridge Number 9.

​We walked along East River Parkway to the Mayo Memorial Building and then crossed the Washington Avenue bridge to the West Bank campus to the streets.mn meeting in Blegen Hall.

Map of route walked

Walk route starts at Lyndale Ave S & Minnehaha Pkwy and ends at Cedar & Riverside Avenues

Caught My Eye Along the Way

Pet Therapy

Warmer temperatures mean more dogs in yards. This makes my walking partner, Scott, a happy walker.

Dogs getting a pet

Dogs getting some love from Scott

Purity Bakery Building

The word “PURITY” is noticeable several blocks away as one approaches E 36th Street on S 5th Avenue.  I was curious about the Purity Bakery Building so when I got home I hit up Google for some background info. I didn’t find much but came across a variance application which gave a brief summary of it’s past, present, and future:  “The subject property is approximately 1 acre and was originally built as the Purity Bakery Building, was constructed in 1919 and operated as a commercial bakery. Since the bakery left the building, it has been renovated into a mixed use building. Some of the uses include art studios, minor automobile repair, light manufacturing, bicycle repair, offices and 6 residential dwellings. The applicant is proposing to allow for metalworking accessory to their existing art studio, Van Madrone Metalworks.”  (VanMadrone Metalworks is the subject of this 2012 Minnesota Public Radio “Minnesota Sounds and Voices” interview).

The Purity Bakery Building at 500 36th Street East

The Purity Bakery Building at 500 36th Street East was constructed in 1919

Yard Art

On the corner of East 31st Street and Portland Avenue South, you’ll find a home that exudes personality. The first thing that caught my eye was the ferris wheel-like structure parked in the driveway. My imagination ran wild coming up with uses for the structure. I’m really hoping that it gets used in the annual MayDay parade – something like this structure. The front yard also had plenty of found object sculptures. I’d love to know more about this home and its owner.

Home at E. 31st Street & Portland Avenue S.

Home at E. 31st Street & Portland Avenue S.

Fika

We made our third annual pilgrimage to Fika at the American Swedish Institute to get a semla bun. These cardamom buns filled with whipped cream and marzipan are only available during Lent (though this Swedish culture website reports that the start of their availability gets earlier every year).  Here’s our semla walk recaps for 2014 and 2015 (not successful but I returned at a later date to get my fix).

A walk to FIKA at the American Swedish Institute for a semla bun has become a tradition.

A walk to FIKA at the American Swedish Institute for a semla bun has become a tradition.

5 Minutes of Fame

I’ve walked along this section of Park Avenue a few times and yet this was the first time I’ve ever noticed 1616 Park Avenue South. Its curved concrete and large rounded windows have me curious for more information on the building’s architecture. The five minutes I spent searching the internet for more information yielded no results. Surprising since my Twitter pal Jason Wittenberg informed me of it’s star appearance in the 2009 film, A Serious Man (confirmed by Ron Meshbesher’s retirement announcement). Fast forward a few hours after this exchange and I was watching another Cohen Brothers film, Hail, Caesar! Of course now I want to watch or rewatch all of their films.

Meshbesher & Spence Minneapolis law office at 1616 Park Avenue South

Meshbesher & Spence Minneapolis law office at 1616 Park Avenue South

Up in the Air

The construction crew working on the new Vikings Stadium have the most precarious restroom situation I’ve ever seen – a port-a-potty strapped down on the slanted roof. My dad would be proud of this tweet I crafted after making the observation and referencing recent news reports.

U.S. Bank Stadium, 900 S 5th Street, Minneapolis, MN

U.S. Bank Stadium, 900 S 5th Street, Minneapolis, MN

Gold Medal Day

Walking along the Mississippi River on the Grand Rounds trail is one of my favorite places to walk in Minneapolis. I’ve been hitting the trails between the University of Minnesota and downtown Minneapolis more often as I get more walking in on both ends of my bus commute. A good place to pause is the Mill City Museum and surrounding area which includes Mill City Ruins Park and the Stone Arch Bridge. Over the years, I’ve taken approximately 1 billion photos of the Gold Medal Flour sign against the blue sky.

Mill City Museum and Gold Medal Flour sign

Mill City Museum and Gold Medal Flour sign

Spring Break Warm-up

Looking back on the photos I took while on the University of Minnesota campus, I’m reminded that I would be a terrible street photographer. I have a real talent for making vibrant places look like ghost towns. I managed to capture three people walking on campus but I assure you, it was buzzing with energy: lots of pick-up football games, skateboarding, and the usual college campus antics.

Washington Avenue Bridge

Washington Avenue Bridge connects the east and west bank campuses at the University of Minnesota

Skateboarders at the University of Minnesota

Skateboarders at the University of Minnesota

Back to Reality

As I write this recap 24 hours later, I’m reminded that winter is not over. Today was cold and dreary with some rain/snow mix to ensure that we won’t put our down coats in storage just yet. I’m just thankful we had a little taste of spring to hold us over for a bit longer.

Hang out with me in the comments

One of the things I like about sharing my walks with you is that I learn a lot from what you post in the comments. As discussed in the streets.mn writers’ workshop, this blog has one of the finest comments sections on the world wide web.

Here are some questions if you don’t have any immediate reactions:

  • What’s your ideal weather conditions for walking/rolling/biking?
  • What’s your favorite north/south route in Minneapolis?
  • What’s your favorite historical building in your community? Do you know how it’s being used today?
  • What’s your favorite “famous building” in your community?
  • Does your community have any homes with personality? Describe what makes them stand out.

Streets.mn is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

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12 Responses to A Spring-Like Walk to a streets.mn Writers’ Workshop

  1. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke March 1, 2016 at 12:04 pm #

    you didn’t tell me you’d walked. how lovely, a spring in your step.

    PS that stadium pic really showcases its bird-killing abilities!

    • Janelle Nivens
      Janelle March 1, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

      The writers’ workshop was fun. Not sure why I but I got bashful when you asked what I was working on. I have a Google doc that has a bunch of post ideas as well as in-person events and fundraising ideas I’d be interested in helping the board with. I get shy.

      I’m already shedding tears for all those birds.

  2. Emily Metcalfe March 1, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

    I biked to the streets.mn writers’ workshop and it was glorious! I am not such an experienced cyclist and 6 miles on an unfamiliar route might have challenged me. But I found that biking really is easier when the weather is warmer and that it is all downhill from Snelling to the river along Marshall. I haven’t been on campus in the last few years and I was amazed at the bike infrastructure. I loved seeing the patio tables between the train tracks along Washington.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke March 1, 2016 at 1:49 pm #

      Just curious. Was it uphill on the way back?

      • Emily Metcalfe March 2, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

        It wasn’t! Due to our busy family schedule, my husband picked me up.

    • Janelle Nivens
      Janelle March 2, 2016 at 7:03 am #

      Emily,

      I wish I would have been more outgoing at the writers’ workshop so I could have met more people. Next time I’ll try to meet you in person! The patio tables between tracks on Washington are amusing to some people who work at the U of M – they don’t get much use even on the most beautiful days. I’m going to make it a point to go sit at one this spring and I’ll report back on the experience.

      • Emily Metcalfe March 2, 2016 at 2:11 pm #

        There was a person sitting out there on Saturday!

  3. Kyle W March 1, 2016 at 5:36 pm #

    Meshbesher & Spence sounds like a blue-chip Manhattan law firm on it’s face, but when they run those TV adds they turn into Dewey, Screwm and Howe in my mind. Probably not fair considering I understand them to have a rather good reputation.

    • Janelle Nivens
      Janelle March 2, 2016 at 7:01 am #

      I’m not sure – I was more focused on the building than the merits of the firm. When I see their commercials, my only reaction is – hey that lawyer works out at my gym! Rare that I see people on TV that I see “out in the wild.”

    • Janelle Nivens
      Janelle March 2, 2016 at 7:11 am #

      Whoa! Monte, thank you for sending that gem along. I used to live on Penn Avenue at 58th Street and I had no idea that such a place was just 30 blocks south of me! I’m going to check it out!

      70° is a great temperature – no doubt about it.