It’s hard to believe that it has been 8 months since my last major thoroughfare walk along Lyndale Avenue. Saturday, November 7, 2015 presented my ideal walking conditions: brisk 50ºF temperature, partial sun, and blue skies. After consulting my walk wish list for ideas, I opted for a stroll along Lake Street/Marshall Avenue. My walking companion for the day was my husband Scott. I live tweeted our adventure using #LakeMarshallWalk.
- Distance: 12.36 miles
- Elapsed time: 5:29:35
- Moving time: 4:06:41
- Average pace: 19 minutes/mile
This walk had us set foot in three cities: St. Louis Park, Minneapolis, and St. Paul.
In Minneapolis, we walked along the border of 16 neighborhoods: Cedar/Isles/Dean, West Calhoun, East Isles, East Calhoun (ECCO), Lowry Hill East, CARAG, Whittier, Lyndale, Central, Phillips West, Midtown Phillips, Powderhorn Park, East Phillips, Corcoran, Longfellow, and Cooper.
In St. Paul, we walked through two neighborhoods: Union Park and Summit-University.
Route details available on MapMyWalk.
Identifying the most accurate starting point for our west to east journey along Lake Street and Marshall Avenue was challenging. Wikipedia states that “Lake Street is coextensive with Minnetonka Boulevard running nearly a mile into St. Louis Park.” However, both Google maps and the St. Louis Park citywide map only use Minnetonka Blvd (Hwy 5) to label that section of the street. A stickler for details, I was relieved of my starting point anxiety when my husband, Scott, suggested we just start at the point when Lake Street starts appearing on the sign posts. If anyone knows the official western starting point for Lake Street, please let me know in the comments!
Getting to the Starting Point
Typically we use MetroTransit or Car2Go to get to and from our longer distance walks but since we were unsure of the precise starting point, we opted to drive our car to St. Louis Park.
The eastern end point of Marshall Avenue is at John Ireland Boulevard.
Returning to the Starting Point
Though riding the Route 21 bus back to our starting point was tempting so that we could recap all we saw from a different vantage point, it would have taken us an hour and a half. Thankfully, we only had to backtrack a few blocks on Marshall Avenue after reaching the end point to hop into a Car2Go.
Caught My Eye Along the Way
There is no way I could capture all the wonderful gems along this 12 mile stretch. I may well have missed some of your favorite spots. Good thing we have a comments section where you can share what catches your eye when you’re on Lake Street and Marshall Avenue!
How Much is that Turkey in the Window?
Let’s just get the weirdest thing we saw all day out of the way – inflatable turkeys hanging in front of Thomas Charles Salon.
To give St. Louis Park (SLP) some love, we stopped two blocks into our walk to fuel up at yum! Kitchen and Bakery (warning: autoplay video on the homepage). Voted Best of the Best in St. Louis Park, yum! had help from Shea Design and recently expanded to Minnetonka in the former Pairings spot (6001 Shady Oak Road). This summer, the SLP yum! closed for a day after a driver crashed through their front window injuring two people. Scott chose the ahi tuna sandwich and a Surly Furious. I opted for the pop salad for lunch (field greens, pears, bleu cheese, scallions & popped wild rice w/ maple vinaigrette) but then more than made up for my healthy choice by getting a “nut goodly bar” five hours later when we picked up our car.
Walking this stretch of Lake Street allowed me to trip down memory lane. In 2002, my sister and I lived in the apartments at 3028 Ewing Avenue S., formerly known as Williamsburg Estates. It is during this era that I met “Lisa from the bus.” Lisa worked at the University of Minnesota at the time and we got to know each other during our commutes to work. We bonded by commiserating the loss of our beloved MetroTransit Route 53P express route to campus. Lisa (I’ve since dropped “from the bus” when I refer to her) and I have been friends ever since. For the past two years, she and I know have a weekly 6 AM walk date, a routine I recommend if you want to strengthen a friendship.
The far western edge of Lake Street is dotted with construction projects at various stages. The former Tryg’s Restaurant site at 3118 W Lake Street is planned to be a 6-story (originally planned as an 11-story) apartment building with a restaurant on the main-level. A few blocks away, The Lakes “upscale residences for rent” is under construction at 2622 W Lake Street.
Which makes me wonder if these houses half a mile away are on borrowed time? Though the current occupant already knows what will happen.
Start Seeing Art
At 3036 W. Lake Street you’ll find the sculpture, “Fish Carousel” by Guy Baldwin which adds a touch of whimsy to the walk.
The Lake in Lake Street
All the Colors of the Rainbow
Here’s just one example of why Lake Street has been my go-to place for an infusion of color on those inevitable stretches of time when we don’t see the sun for days. “Sing a Song for Uptown” by Greta McLain is on the west side of 1422 W Lake Street, otherwise known as The Rainbow House Office Building. The brief description of the history of this building has me on a mission to learn more about T.B. Walker, an Iowan who heard great things about Minneapolis. Sounds familiar. Oh yeah, he’s that Walker – as in the library and art center.
Lake & Hennepin
As a kid growing up in small town Iowa in the ’90’s, I loved our visits to Uptown. I distinctly remember walking into Prince’s New Power Generation store and being both intrigued and intimidated. And, in stark contrast, buying my first pair of Birkenstocks at Bay Street Shoes. No matter what changes happen to the intersection of Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue, I will always have a special place in my heart for this part of Lake Street.
Speaking of change, we stopped at Calhoun Square to see the latest modifications. One of the biggest changes made by Ackerberg Group is the entrance location which was moved from the corner to the Lake Street side of the building. I was drawn to a community board in a corner by The Kitchen Window because mosaic artist Stacia Goodman’s “What’s Up Town” installation. While scoping things out, we encountered a young girl riding the escalators just as I would have done as a kid. She proudly told us she had gone up and down more than 50 times.
Hot Tub Time Machine
I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the most (in)famous hot tub (for 15 seconds) in Minneapolis.
I See Robots
Props to the artists who can see something besides a robot when they look at a utility box. Wrapping these boxes in art with the goal of preventing graffiti has been done around town for awhile and the box I found on Lake Street was part of a recent project by the Uptown Association.
I was first drawn to the mural on the side of Schatzlein Saddle Shop at 419 W. Lake Street because of the rainbow which made me think the horse was a unicorn. Ha! I must have been getting tired. Later, I discovered more to love about this mural. First, a search for more information about its artist, Jason Najarak led me to a blog post by a former colleague whom I haven’t seen in many years, Susan Gainen. That post led me to listen to an Art Hounds piece that featured Ed Vogel, one of my Kingfield neighborhood tour guides for my “currently on hiatus blog,” Minneapolis 81. Hi Susan! Hi Ed!
Thanks to the mural descriptions by Susan and the Schatzlein Saddle Shop, I want to go back to the mural and find HC Akeley, James J Hill, and T.B. Walker.
I love making connections.
My most “popular” tweet of the day:
— Janelle (@Janellie23) November 7, 2015
Too bad my dreams were later crushed by streets.mn’s very own Bill Lindeke.
Do Gooders on Lake Street
Beauty is only skin deep? Not in the case of Good Grocer. It’s uplifting exterior design carries through to the inside where healthy food is made more affordable due in part to the community member model. If you’re like me, you may wonder if you can shop there without a membership. You can, and as this Twin Cities Daily Planet article points out, everyone is welcome.
Fading But Not Forgotten
While I love walking along new-to-me streets, there is something to be said for revisiting them. I’ve been by 730 E. Lake Street on foot, bus, and car many times but I just now discovered the ghost murals on the western side. The one that caught my attention is an old advertisement for Lee Overalls, a product that is no longer made. My photo doesn’t capture the fact that this is the building that housed Roberts Shoes for 77 years. The family business closed in 2014.
Beer & Chili
Most of my walks with Scott involve a beer stop and luckily for him, we could stop at East Lake Street Craft Brewery in the Midtown Global Market at 920 E Lake Street. While we were there, the Market was having their annual chili cook-off, with proceeds going to Doing Good Together. Midtown Global Market is another go-to place for me when I’m in need of cheering up – it is a feast for the senses. The Vietnamese iced coffee from Pham’s Deli doesn’t hurt.
A Gift From our Sister
A statue of General Emiliano Zapata is a gift from Marco Castillo, the mayor at the time of Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico which is a sister city of Minneapolis. To learn more about the background and significance of this statue and the pocket park, Plaza Centenario where it stands, read the Minnpost article by Andy Sturdevant and the Twin Cities Daily Planet article by Jennifer Larson. Side note: now I want to visit all of our sisters.
In the Heart of Lake Street
The first Sunday of May is always blocked on my calendar as May Day Parade day. This iconic Minneapolis event brings together people from all walks of life and Bloomington Avenue explodes with music, dancing, chanting, and my favorite – fire! In The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater is responsible for this community gathering and others like the recent Nature Heals 30×30 event at the University of Minnesota.
Reyna de los Jugos is one of many vendors inside Mercado Central at 1515 E. Lake Street. Drinking a vegetable juice gave me the energy boost I needed for the rest of the walk.
Know Your Artist
Despite my efforts to get to know more about the artists who are creating and beautifying our public and private spaces, I often take for granted the person or people behind specific installations. It turns out, I’m a huge fan of Greta McLain and I didn’t even know it. Not even when I took two photos of her work in a single day. “Together We Grow,” a mural project led by Greta is part of a larger Semilla Project to beautify and unite communities. After looking through Greta’s galleries, I now realize I’ve stopped to admire her work all over town.
One of the best Open Streets I’ve attended since its inaugural 2011 event was the East Lake Street event this year. That day, Kevin Kirch hand cranked a show “HiLake4EveryBody” at the intersection of Hiawatha Avenue and Lake Street. It was so engaging that I think about it anytime I’m at the intersection. Visit the Humanize Hi-Lake Facebook page for more information.
A Cool Sign
American Rug Laundry is so much more than a cool sign. It is the “largest and oldest rug cleaning company in the Upper Midwest” according to its website which has a collection of images from the past thanks to the Minnesota Historical Society.
The Moment We’ve All Been Waiting For
Scott and I took our time crossing over the Mississippi River on the Lake/Marshall Bridge so that we could fully appreciate our transition from Lake Street to Marshall Avenue and cross the border into St. Paul.
While most of the properties along Marshall Avenue are residential, at Cleveland Avenue North, there’s a cluster of great businesses: Marshall Liquor, Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store, Trotter’s Cafe, Kopplin’s, and Izzy’s Ice Cream.
Stopping to say hello to furry buddies is a must on walks with Scott. These four were particularly friendly.
Homes Sweet Homes
St. Paul is a great city for admiring beautiful homes. Just when you think you’ve seen them all, you find another pocket of unique homes to admire.
Debbie Montgomery Avenue
Between Lexington Parkway and Western Avenue, Marshall Avenue is also known as Debbie Montgomery Avenue to honor the former St. Paul City Council member who grew up during the civil rights era and became the first female officer in the St. Paul Police Department.
Oldest Catholic School Building in Minnesota
The former St. Joseph’s Academy (currently Christ’s Household of Faith) is on the National Register of Historic Places because it is, according to Wikipedia, “Minnesota’s oldest standing Catholic school—whose original section dates to 1863—also noted for its early Italianate architecture in yellow limestone.“
The next time I take a street themed walk, I’m going to take photos of all of the interesting typography used to spell out the street name on signs. This game was inspired by this beautiful display of “Marshall” on an apartment entrance.
I strongly recommend taking time to get to know this 12-mile stretch by foot even if you have to break it down into smaller walks. Get out of your comfort zone and walk along sections you haven’t experienced. Go into the many storefronts and support the businesses and nonprofit organizations. This would be a great candidate for a progressive dinner – drinks, appetizers, main course, and dessert at different restaurants along the way. For more information and to learn about upcoming events, visit the Lake Street Council website.
Other major streets in the Twin Cities to serve as future walking adventures:
- Cedar Avenue (multiple cities)
- Central Avenue (Minneapolis)
- Hennepin Avenue (Minneapolis)
- France Avenue (Bloomington/Edina/St. Louis Park)
- Grand Avenue (St. Paul)
- Franklin Avenue (Minneapolis)
- Larpenteur Avenue (St. Paul)
- Nicollet Avenue (Minneapolis)
- Selby Avenue (St. Paul)
- Summit Avenue (St. Paul)
- University Avenue (Minneapolis/St. Paul)
- Washington Avenue (Minneapolis)
- 38th Street (Minneapolis)
Suggest a Street
What’s your favorite street to explore in the Twin Cities? In Minnesota? In other states or countries?