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.
Even a quick glance at the city’s official map of the Bryn Mawr neighborhood reveals that it has quite a complicated outline and layout of streets and trails:
In part this complexity reflects political geography, such as the City of Minneapolis’s border (as expanded in 1883) with the Cities of St. Louis Park and Golden Valley. However, it also clearly owes a great deal to physical geography. Bryn Mawr contains all or part of three lakes, a creek, and quite a bit of hilly terrain. (The neighborhood’s name is the Welsh for “big hill.”) For good measure, throw in some railroad tracks, a freeway, and quite a bit of parkland.
This complexity may help explain the Bryn Mawr Neighborhood Association’s decision to subdivide the neighborhood into seven areas. For my first day walking the neighborhood, I decided to focus on the southernmost areas. Area 1 consists of everything south of the connection between Brownie and Cedar Lakes, and Area 2 consists of everything north of there but south of Interstate 394. That turned out to be a bit more than I felt like walking this morning, so I left the eastern third of Area 2 (starting from Vincent Avenue) for another day. That still left close to six miles of walking:
If you reveal this route map’s legend, you’ll see that it is divided into segments. I walked Loop 1 together with Spurs 1a–1e, then after a break for refreshment (and repositioning by car) walked Loop 2 together with Spurs 2a–2c. I walked each of the spurs back and forth when encountered on the corresponding loop, with the exception of Spur Loop 1d, which returned to its own starting point after wrapping around Cedar Lake Point. It would also be possible to combine the entire walk into one itinerary without automotive repositioning by taking advantage of the fact that Spur 1c ends at the start (and end) of Loop 2.
I began my walk with Spur 1a, which took me south on Drew Avenue from 22nd Street to Cedar Shore Drive, which I followed around the small park known formally as Reserve Block 40 Park but informally as Triangle Park. The neighborhood association is trying to have it renamed Gracia Countryman Park. Regardless of the name, it has an inviting playground for younger children:
I then wound my way through the peaceful residential area until I came to Cedar Lake. A thin strip of parkland rims the lake, but a more substantial portion juts out and contains Cedar Lake Point Beach. I wasn’t particularly interested in the beach per se, but the point provided a good view out over the mirror-calm lake:
A paved pedestrian trail stays close to the parkway, while another gravel trail takes the longer route closer to shore that is necessary to access the beach. North of the beach an oak tree was down across the trail, which gave me an enjoyable scramble — enjoyable in part because of how un-urban it felt.
Had I turned back at this obstacle and returned to the paved path, I would also have missed an attractive thistle growing at the lakeside:
The houses in this southern Area 1 seem to range from the 1950s to the 21st Century. In several places, I enjoyed the juxtaposition of houses from the two ends of this range. A good example came up at the end of my first loop, at the southwestern corner of Cedar Lake Parkway and 22nd Street West. The house on the parkway is from 1951, whereas the one on 22nd Street is from 2009:
I didn’t see as many recent houses north of the Brownie Lake connection (in Area 2), though I saw more from intermediate ages such as the 1960s and 1970s, as well as some duplexes and commercial buildings. My personal favorite was a house from 1969 concealed at the end of the Edlin Place cul-de-sac:
No catalog of the architecture of this area, even as incomplete as this, can omit the “Prudential Building” (now occupied by Target) that lies to the west of Brownie Lake. Not only does the building reflect the style of 1953, its location is itself a testimony to the desire for a park-like corporate campus: in this case, so park-like that it was formed by carving out part of a park.
Although the campus landscaping heavily favors mown grass lawns, I noticed a number of Target employees taking breaks from their workdays to walk in the considerably wilder landscape of Brownie Lake Park:
The path through the park took me back to Cedar Lake Parkway, where I just needed to walk the 1400 block to return to my starting point on Lakeview Avenue. Along the way, I encountered a house whose occupants apparently consider a lawn flamingo too tame and so opted for a lawn tyrannosaur. (Don’t underestimate the flamingos, though. Witness what happened at Google.)
Finally, once I turned back onto Lakeview Avenue, I took the opportunity to illustrate that Area 2 does contain a few houses preceding the middle of the 20th Century. In particular, across Lakeview from Edlin Place is a brick Colonial Georgian dating from 1936:
This article was published July 25, 2016, on the author’s All of Minneapolis blog. The original version is available there.