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.
As I previously reported, the Bryn Mawr Neighborhood Association has established seven areas, of which I had walked Area 1 and the majority of Area 2. Having a small block of time available, I decided to finish off the remainder of Area 2 with the exception of the crossings over Interstate 394. Although this only required walking about a mile and a half, even in that small area there were multiple points where Google’s map, the city’s map, and reality all were different from one another. Nevertheless, here is an approximate overview of my route:
I began at the corner of Cedar Lake Road South and Vincent Avenue South, where the tony residences on the south side of Cedar Lake Road provide a counterpoint to the commercial buildings on the north side, which have addresses on the Wayzata Boulevard frontage road. As with the residences, each commercial building stands as a monument to its respective historical period, which for the corner office building is 1959:
Most clients presumably access this building through the doors that face the parking lot on Cedar Lake Road, rather than through the official front doors, which face a fast-moving frontage road with no ability for motorists to even pull over. Yet care has been taken with the appearance of the front side:
This portion of frontage road (up to Xerxes Avenue) happily has a sidewalk, which facilitated examining the other office buildings and the Sofa & Chairs showroom.
Turning back the other way and continuing east of Cedar Lake Road, I encountered the first place where my maps conflicted not only with one another, but also with reality. At a particular spot immediately to the west of 2523 Wayzata Boulevard, the city map shows simply a blank gap:
Google’s map, in contrast, shows a continuation of Madeira Avenue to the west (versus east) of the building containing Bolin Marketing, which is that same 2523 Wayzata Boulevard:
So which is it? Neither. The following photo shows 2523 Wayzata Boulevard. In the foreground is a street (contrary to the city map) marked as a dead end (contrary to Google’s map). Also, if you squint hard enough you might see that the street sign labels it as Thomas Avenue (again, contrary to Google’s map). As with the other errors I point out in Google’s maps, these may be fixed by the time you look — I’ve reported them all.
More specifically, this area between 2523 Wayzata Boulevard and the spiral ramp to the pedestrian/bicycle bridge contains two back-to-back cul-de-sacs of Thomas Avenue. One, a longer portion extending from Vincent Avenue, is shown on both maps. The other, a short portion extending from Wayzata Boulevard is shown on neither, though Google sort of includes it, albeit under another name and with an exit — which turns out to be through the private parking lot at the rear of 2523 Wayzata Boulevard. Also, Google Maps is unhelpful in not showing that pedestrians can continue from one cul-de-sac to the other via a sidewalk:
Google’s omission of this sidewalk results in a gap in my route map. In any case, I wasn’t ready to take that path yet because I needed to first explore further east on Wayzata Boulevard, including in particular the actual Madeira Avenue.
The city’s map lead me to expect Madeira to arc around, connecting to Wayzata between 2523 and 2501 as well as to the east of 2501:
Recall that Google positioned Madeira Avenue’s western connection with Wayzata Boulevard further west, on the western side of 2523. However, if you look back at that map excerpt, you’ll see that Google did also include this connection between 2523 and 2501 — it simply leaves it unnamed. Having found that Google’s version of Madeira Avenue was wrong, maybe this unnamed status is as close as Google can come to agreeing with the city. But if so, they are agreeing to be wrong. The street sign shows this to be a portion of Antoinette Avenue. Another potion of Antoinette Avenue is visible on the city’s map, though I’ve cut off the label in the preceding excerpt: it is the cul-de-sac at the lower left.
At about the point where the two portions of Antoinette Avenue would connect, if they did, the portion coming from Wayzata Boulevard transitions seemlessly into Madeira Avenue, with only a sign to mark the distinction:
Having mentioned 2501 Wayzata Boulevard, allow me to pause for a question about the building at that address (containing the Lurie, LLP, accounting firm). Can any of my more architecturally savvy readers enlighten me as to these triangular structures under the eaves of this 1954 building? Do they have a name?
Returning to Madeira Avenue, recall that what it actually does is connect Wayzata Boulevard to a short portion of Antoinette Avenue, which in turn connects back to Wayzata Boulevard. However, if my two maps were to be believed, there would be another exit from Madeira Avenue, extending southward from a point at about the middle of the arc, south of 2501 Wayzata Boulevard. This connection is just barely visible in the earlier excerpts from the city and Google maps. Here is a more comprehensive view from the city map:
Apparently Cedar View Drive extends to the east of Vincent Avenue and connects up with Madeira Avenue. Google tells a somewhat different story. The geometry and connections are the same, but the street name is different. If Google were to be believed, the name stays Sheridan Avenue South all the way from where Cedar View Drive curves into Vincent Avenue South up to the point of the T connection with Madeira Avenue. The following excerpt shows three copies of the “Sheridan Ave S” label:
The reality should come as no surprise: once again, neither map is entirely correct. The connection exists, but not as a public thoroughfare. Instead, it is signed as a private drive for use only by residents and guests of the Cedar Lake Townhomes. For that reason, I didn’t walk it. The city’s use of yellow highlighting and Google’s willingness to route through here suggested otherwise.
As to the names, the city property records suggest that the portion nearest Vincent Avenue is a private continuation of Cedar View Drive, whereas that nearest Madeira Avenue is a private portion of Sheridan Avenue. So each of the two maps was partially correct.
I enjoy this geeky fact checking of maps, but I’m looking forward to less-geeky pleasures in the portion of Bryn Mawr to the north of the freeway. For example, I know that I will find restaurants and a wildflower garden there.
This article was published July 30, 2016, on the author’s All of Minneapolis blog. The original version is available there.