Gold Medal Flour sign on the Mill City Museum

A Spring-Like Walk to a Writers’ Workshop

On Saturday, February 27, I attended the second annual 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 board genuinely wants to grow the 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 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.


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 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.
Janelle Nivens

About Janelle Nivens

Janelle is an urban explorer who likes to challenge herself to walk long distances (40 miles is her record). She lives in southwest Minneapolis with Scott and their adorable dog Stewie and works at the University of Minnesota. Janelle documents what catches her eye on long walks in hopes of inspiring others to discover hidden gems in their own communities. Walk with her on Instagram, Twitter (@Janellie23), and FitBit.