Western Bryant

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 MinneapolisReturning to the Bryant neighborhood, I used the same approach as I had on the prior day, as well as on my two days in the neighboring Bancroft neighborhood. That is, I started and ended at a point on 38th Street accessible by the number 23 bus. This time, that point was the intersection of 38th Street East with 3rd Avenue South:

The southeast corner of that intersection is occupied by the Seward Co-OpFriendship Store:

Seward Co-Op Friendship Store

Seward Co-Op Friendship Store

Befitting the store’s name and signage, I found all the staff I interacted with to be friendly and welcoming. I had understood the store to be a smaller outpost of the main Seward Co-Op, so I was surprised how comprehensive the stock was. To take one small but telling example, the bulk spice section did not merely include organic cayenne powder (which would be expected); it contained two different varieties thereof, differing by a factor of three in how hot they are:

Organic Cayenne: 30,000 and 90,000 Scoville Heat Units

Organic Cayenne: 30,000 and 90,000 Scoville Heat Units

For another example from that same section, green cardamom was available in three forms: pods, seeds, or powder. (I’m skeptical of pre-ground spices, but this had a good, fresh aroma.)

When I left the store, for some reason I turned and looked back at it, which allowed me to spot a sign that I had overlooked on my way in. This helped explain the store’s name: the site previously housed the Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, which had in the meantime relocated to more spacious quarters further east on 38th street.

A Tribute to the Former Occupant of the Friendship Store’s Site

A Tribute to the Former Occupant of the Friendship Store’s Site

Across 3rd Avenue I spotted what looks to be an old automotive service station, dating from 1931. It always interests me when I see such well-preserved examples of buildings tailored to a particular function:

3800 3rd Avenue South (1931)

3800 3rd Avenue South (1931)

After dutifully going half way across the 38th Street bridge across Interstate 35W, I backtracked to 2nd Avenue, which runs parallel to the freeway on the Bryant side. The western side of this avenue has nothing but the sound wall, but the eastern side is occupied by substantial houses. Viewing them at a pedestrian pace, I was able to notice the subtle shading in housing characteristics that occurs from block to block rather than only at the larger scale of neighborhoods. In the 3800 block I saw two-and-a-half-story houses, whereas in the 3900 block I saw one-and-a-half-story houses. I also saw an interesting lawn sign with Spanish on its northern side and English on its southern side:

“We Demand Justice” (English Side)

“We Demand Justice” (English Side)

Returning to 39th Street, I headed east as far as 5th Avenue. Along the way, one of the more interesting sights was a garage door that I interpret as expressing global patriotism: the central image is the earth seen from space, while eighteen national flags serve to provide it a diverse, colorful context:

Garage (on 39th Street East) for 3856 5th Avenue South

Garage (on 39th Street East) for 3856 5th Avenue South

Where I turned from 39th Street to 5th Avenue, I spotted two noteworthy houses. The one at the southwestern corner stood out for its architecture and especially for its gardens, which are signed as certified wildlife habitat:

3900 5th Avenue South

3900 5th Avenue South

Across the avenue, one house down from the southeastern corner, is a two-and-a-half-story house that looks like many others in the neighborhood. However, this one is worth noting for the sake of its earlier occupant, Lena Olive Smith, “a prominent civil rights lawyer and activist during the 1920s and 1930s.” Had I not been alerted to this landmark, I would have remained ignorant of a quite remarkable person.

Lena Olive Smith House (3905 5th Avenue South)

Lena Olive Smith House (3905 5th Avenue South)

Turning back westward on 40th Street, I passed several churches, including The Church of St. Leonard of Port Maurice, which provided the grounds for a quite idyllic flower garden known as the Bryant Unity Development (BUD) Garden:

The Bryant Unity Development (BUD) Garden

The Bryant Unity Development (BUD) Garden

Where 40th Street reaches its T-intersection with 2nd Avenue, pedestrians can continue on across the freeway to the King Field neighborhood. I took a picture of this pedestrian bridge (prior to walking to its midpoint) in order to illustrate an important distinction between it and some other pedestrian bridges across freeways. This one is at grade level on both sides, with the freeway sunk below the streets; there’s no need to spiral up a corkscrew ramp, take a straight ramp from a block away, or climb stairs.

40th Street Pedestrian Bridge to King Field Neighborhood

40th Street Pedestrian Bridge to King Field Neighborhood

Walking every block at least once means that I need to walk some blocks twice. In this particular day of walking, one quirk of that sort was that I did one and a half revolutions around the most southwesterly block. On the positive side, that gave me two opportunities to see the historic (1890) Montefiore Cemetery Chapel at the Temple Israel Memorial Park:

Temple Israel Memorial Park

Temple Israel Memorial Park

Another of the route-planning quirks in the same area required me to head north one block from 42nd Street along 4th Avenue, then west one block along 41st Street, and finally curl back southward to the cul-de-sac on Clinton Avenue before retracing my steps back out of this two and a half block detour. The sign announcing the cul-de-sac can also be taken literally; the “dead end” of Clinton Avenue abuts the cemetery (without providing access to it).

Dead End — Literally

Dead End — Literally

Having wound my way through the western half of Bryant primarily along the east-west streets, I needed to return to my starting point primarily along the north-south avenues. However, this also provided the opportunity to fill in the missing blocks of 38th Street, where I saw another building that serves as a landmark to a prominent African American woman from the neighborhood. Unlike the Lena Olive Smith House, the Sharon Sayles-Belton Community Services Center has a plaque:

Sharon Sayles-Belton Community Services Center (411 38th Street East)

Sharon Sayles-Belton Community Services Center (411 38th Street East)

The weather forecast for the next couple mornings looks appealing and I’d like to get going on the last of the B-named neighborhoods, Bryn Mawr. However, I don’t know whether I’ll be able to do the route planning that quickly. If you look at a map, you’ll see that this neighborhood is way more complicated than anything I’ve dealt with thus far. Wish me luck!

All of MinneapolisThis article was published July 24, 2016, on the author’s All of Minneapolis blog. The original version is available there.


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One Response to Western Bryant

  1. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke March 7, 2017 at 10:53 am #

    One of my favorite neighborhoods to walk. Also one of the only historically black communities in South Minneapolis.

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