Western Audubon Park

Editor’s Note: Max Hailperin is walking each of Minneapolis’ 87 neighborhoods, in alphabetical order. He chronicles his adventures at  allofminneapolis.com and we’re sharing them here at streets.mn, at a pace of one or two walks per week.

All of Minneapolis

I returned to the western portion of the Audubon Park neighborhood (west of Johnson Street NE) to walk all the blocks I hadn’t covered on my first day in the neighborhood:

Although the western part of the neighborhood is older than the eastern part, most of the buildings still looked like they date from the 20th century. Of the few exceptions that struck me as 19th century in style, I checked the first one out in the city’s property database and found I was just barely correct: it dates from 1900.

2542 Buchanan Street NE (Built in 1900)

2542 Buchanan Street NE (Built in 1900)

In describing yesterday’s journey through eastern Audubon Park, I remarked that the neighborhood has a number of rain gardens resulting from a MetroBlooms initiative, though I wasn’t always sure of the correspondence between what I saw and the projects on their map. As I continuing north on Buchanan, I saw one clearly identifiable example at 2631. Not only is it shown on the MetroBlooms project map with a design diagram roughly corresponding to the actual garden, it also has the oval “I am a raingarden” sign provided by the organization. (The other sign visible in the photo, on the back of the bench, says “wildflowers, weeds, and bees.” That connects with another recurrent theme I had noticed: Audubon Park seems to be a particularly bee-conscious neighborhood.)

Rain Garden (With Wildflowers, Weeds, and Bees) at 2631 Buchanan Street NE

Rain Garden (With Wildflowers, Weeds, and Bees) at 2631 Buchanan Street NE

After I had completed my northward pass on Buchanan and my southward pass on Pierce, I headed back northward again on Fillmore and spotted a fun alternative to the usual “no solicitors” sign:

No Clowns Allowed! (2700 Block of Fillmore Street)

No Clowns Allowed! (2700 Block of Fillmore Street)

Fillmore Street took me to the eastern border of Deming Heights Park, where I was able to descend the staircase I had ascended on my first pass through the neighborhood, this time taking the other branch so as to reach Taylor Street.

In my westward progression through the presidential streets, Taylor Street was the first where I encountered an anomaly in the grid. To be clear, western Audubon Park doesn’t have any street slicing diagonally through the grid such as occurs in the eastern section. Aside from the parkway forming the northern border of the neighborhood, absolutely every street is on a grid. The trick, though, is that I wrote “a grid” rather than “the grid.” There are two different grids, one south of 29th Avenue and one north. (This may relate to that avenue having once having been the city limit.) The initial discontinuity, at Taylor street, is relatively slight — the streets just don’t quite connect up:

Taylor Street to the South (Foreground) and North (Background) of 29th Avenue NE Don’t Align

Taylor Street to the South (Foreground) and North (Background) of 29th Avenue NE Don’t Align

However, as I wound my way eastward toward Central Avenue, the misalignment of grids grew more extreme with each further step backward in presidential history, to Polk and then Tyler. The northern version of Polk Street lands almost mid-way between the southern versions of Polk and Taylor Streets, and the southern version of Polk Street likewise lands almost midway between the northern versions of Polk and Tyler Streets, so that no matter whether one is headed northbound or southbound, one can’t readily see which street is the nominal continuation. And as to Tyler Street, its mis-alignment is so complete that it doesn’t even exist south of 29th Avenue.

As my path wound through the far southwestern extremity of the neighborhood — the 2500 block of Central Avenue — I had the pleasant opportunity of making not one but two stops for refreshment. First I visited the Eastside Food Co-op and then the Holy Land grocery and deli.

The co-op recently underwent a major expansion project and in particular gained a very nice “beverage bar” that features coffee drinks, smoothies, and freshly made juices. The physical environment is lovely, with details such as really nice restrooms, and I received good service. The beet-lemon-ginger juice that I had made was just what I needed after all that walking. Not that I sat down to drink it — I kept right on walking by strolling the aisles of the store as I sipped. I’m something of a connoisseur of co-ops, and this one had a good assortment of merchandise in every department I scoped out. Apparently their hot foods area is currently under construction, but even without that I was impressed — it will just be the icing on the cake.

Much of the rest of eastern side of the 2500 block is occupied by the middle-eastern brand Holy Land, which has had to expand in order to respond to their own success. (On this site, they have their deli and catering operations, a grocery store, and the hummus factory from which packages are widely available. The bakery is in another location.) I was able to eavesdrop on a portion of the presentation a third-generation member of the owning family was giving for a visiting class from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute of the University of Minnesota.

After scanning the interesting groceries, I had a nice appetizer plate in the deli. It contained some of their famous hummus, dressed up with olive oil, whole chickpeas, olives, and parsley, as well as a nicely smokey baba ganoush presented similarly, two falafel (which I dipped in the container of tahini sauce), a couple stuffed grape leaves, and some salad. From the earlier presentation I learned that the falafel as well as the hummus date back to very beginning of the Holy Land brand. They were crunchy on the outside but nice and soft on the inside and quite flavorful.

As I resumed my walk through the far western portion of the neighborhood, I noticed that the especially hilly topography of this region makes it a good place to look at the various landscaping strategies different homeowners have adopted. Few have chosen to give themselves the job of mowing a steep lawn. Instead, I saw a mix of terrain-suitable plantings, terraced gardens, and retaining-wall enclosed yards.

Plantings on a Hilly Property (2800 Block of Taylor St NE)

Plantings on a Hilly Property (2800 Block of Taylor St NE)

Front-Yard Cow on 2700 Block of Taylor St NE (Not to Scale)

Front-Yard Cow on 2700 Block of Taylor St NE (Not to Scale)

As I passed by the western border of the park in the 3100 block of Polk Street, my eye was attracted to a box superficially similar to a little free library but intriguingly labeled “POETRY * BOX” and “open.” The latter, in particular, has a compelling quality like the “drink me” label in Wonderland:

Poetry Box (3100 Block of Polk St NE)

Poetry Box (3100 Block of Polk St NE)

So of course I opened the box. The instructions inside indicate that one is to leave a poem and take a poem — or one can opt for an entire book of poetry. I instead took nothing and left a note explaining that I had no poem in mind, but that two of my favorite Minnesota poets are Joyce Sutphen and Philip Bryant. I also included a mention that I had stopped by while working on allofminneapolis.com. So, dear reader, if you got that note and are here as a result, welcome! I would appreciate it if you’d reciprocate by leaving a comment on this site, preferably containing a poem or the name of a poet.

As my journey neared its end, I turned down the 3100 block of Tyler Street and was immediately arrested by a house number. I’m actually rather fond of looking at all the different styles in which house numbers are displayed — some day when I see a bunch of interesting ones in close proximity, I might devote one of my blog posts just to a photo-essay on the topic. One difficulty, though, is that they generally are difficult to photograph clearly from the sidewalk (and I never go onto private property). This one, however, didn’t need a zoom lens:

3145 Tyler Street NE

3145 Tyler Street NE

Where Tyler Street reaches its T intersection with 29th Avenue, the building on the northwestern corner was distinguished by the contents of its front porch. First, there’s the rocking chair. Rocking chairs on front porches are surprisingly rare — perhaps that mode of entertainment has gone out of fashion. However, I’ve certainly seen a number of them in both Armatage and Audubon Park. But then there’s the bust. This is without a doubt the only front porch I’ve seen that’s equipped with a rocker and a bust:

Front Porch with Rocker and Bust (2900 Tyler Street NE)

Front Porch with Rocker and Bust (2900 Tyler Street NE)

The bust is of some bearded guy. I wasn’t able to recognize him. In case some reader wants to delight me by leaving an identification as a comment, here’s a detail:

Detail of the Bust of a Bearded Guy

Detail of the Bust of a Bearded Guy

After that, I finished up one last block of Central Avenue and headed home. Next stop, the Bancroft neighborhood.

All of MinneapolisThis article was published June 22, 2016, on the author’s All of Minneapolis blog. The original version is available there.

 

 


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