More On Bad Downtown Streets

I previously wrote about the horrors that make up Lasalle Avenue, arguably downtown Minneapolis’s worst street (in a post the thesis of which the jack-booted totalitarians of the editorial board insisted be changed from an interrogatory to a declaration). I’m sure all (7?) who read it thought to themselves, “that’s okay because all of the rest of downtown’s streets are wonderful.”

Alas, sanguine readers, I ventured the sidewalks once again and learned it is not so.

Today’s culprit is South 10th Street:

10th St/. & 3rd Ave.

10th St. & 3rd Ave.

We begin our tour of terror at the corner of 10th and 3rd Ave. Does this look like an urban intersection, or a freeway on ramp? Oh, right, it’s kind of both as if you’re headed down to Burnsville, you can jump right on to 35W south if you stay to the right. That’s really convenient, if you’re trying to get out of the city.

But what if you’re just trying to have a pleasant stroll in the city’s urban core? Well, on the plus side, you’ve got wide sidewalks, especially on the north side. There are some immature sidewalk trees that might be really nice one day.

And that’s about all that’s good here, where you also get to contend with four lanes of traffic, some of which is racing toward the freeway entrance.

Maybe it will look better if I cross the street:

How do you like dem walls?

How do you like dem walls?

Nope, nothing to see here. Just a blank wall (hey, at least it’s glass).

Let’s turn to the west:

Phew, a place to put my car

Phew, a place to put my car

Now this is what I call a great city street. Look at all that space for cars. A surface parking lot. A parking structure. A wide open road. If only we could get rid of that pesky bike lane, it would be perfect.

Seriously, though, look at this streetscape and keep in mind that in the next block drivers are heading for the freeway. How fast does this design and neighboring use communicate to drivers that it’s appropriate to drive? 40? 45? More?

Maybe the next block will be better:

A slightly oddly placed steakhouse

A slightly oddly placed steakhouse

Hey, look! A street-facing business. Here we have the last remaining example in the proud tradition of slightly oddly placed high end steakhouses (formerly joined by the now-closed Morton’s in a basement and now-moved Manny’s in the way back of the Hyatt Hotel). But this post isn’t about expensive steak.

Things actually are slightly better here, with a restaurant and the building entrance and, look, actual people. If we’re grading on a curve, what’s in this photo gets a “meh.”

Lest your hopes get too high, this blank wall faces the cross street:

Always nice to break up a wall with a garage door

Always nice to break up a wall with a garage door

At this point, I want to raise your spirits a little. Things do get better soon. I promise.

But not yet:

A place for my other car!

A place for my other car!

Now that I’m writing this, I’m kicking myself for not getting a better shot of the sign on the right, about how wonderful your life would be if you parked here. Great marketing. But who are they kidding, parking there can’t be nearly as much fun as walking by on the sidewalk.

We’ve gone two blocks and we’re on our second stand-alone parking structure (okay, okay, each also houses a car rental storefront), fun!

But I told you it would get better:

Easily the best block

Easily the best block

Ah. Now we’re talking. Human-scale buildings. Multiple store fronts (I can never remember Sam’s acronym for the number of doors on a block). What I like to scientifically call, “cool old buildings.”

This is easily the best block on this little tour. But it also presents a bit of challenge for urbanism, I think. You see, while these buildings bring character and appeal to the street, they also don’t seem to be particularly attractive to thriving business. In fact, some of these store fronts are empty. Others seem underutilized. Off in the distance the building that used to house Let It Be Records sat empty for quite some time before Target turned it into something that looks from the outside like an employee clubhouse (although there is more to that story).

On top of that, this block is one of the few (or maybe only) remaining commercial blocks from this era in the downtown core. I’d go so far as to argue that it should be preserved (which is atypical for me). But how do we make better use of it?

Alas, that was a bit of a tangent, so let me finish up with one more photo, skipping past Nicollet Mall and maybe even glimpsing Lasalle:

It all comes back around

It all comes back around

Adam Miller

About Adam Miller

Adam Miller works downtown and lives in South Minneapolis. He's an avid user of the city's bike paths, sidewalks and skyways. He's not entirely certain he knows what the word "urbanist" means.

7 thoughts on “More On Bad Downtown Streets

  1. Ethan OstenEthan Osten

    Happily, that single bright spot of a building may soon be demolished for an 18-story box of micro apartments with only a handful of uninviting walk-ups on street level. Progress!

  2. Wayne

    After taking a stroll today down the equally terrible 9th street I was amused by the ‘9th street experience’ signs on some of the street light poles. Are you kidding me? It was an experience, but not a pleasant one. That’s some seriously pathetic attempt at branding a garbage street if I ever saw one. Also why is there a curb in for parking between Hennepin and LaSalle on the north side? There’s no hotel or anything there to justify it … it just takes a chunk out of the sidewalk instead of allowing normal curb parking like the rest of the block. WTF?

      1. Jules Audy

        There’s a YMCA daycare on the ground floor of that building. By the doors to the Y, there’s a bike rack. I notice the area always smells bad of cigarettes (I’m not particularly anti-smoking but it stinks) and there are huge gobs of spit on the ground.

        The cutout makes the sidewalk layout weird too. Kind of a fun bad design!

Comments are closed.