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.
On Saturday morning I completed the Bryn Mawr neighborhood by walking through its sparsely settled northwestern portion, which includes Areas 6 and 7 in the Bryn Mawr Neighborhood Association’s subdivision of the neighborhood into seven areas.
I was able to do most of the walk by following a winding path (shown in blue) from the intersection of Upton Avenue South and Laurel Avenue (point A, a stop on the number 9 bus) south to the Wayzata Boulevard frontage road, through a portion of Theodore Wirth Regional Park, and then through the remainder of the residential areas, ending where Glenwood Avenue passes over Basset Creek and the railroad tracks (point B). As always, I had to supplement this main route with some spurs (shown in red) that I walked back and forth. (After point B, I also had to walk a bit further to catch my bus home, but that was outside the neighborhood.)
In addition to the park, shaded in green on the map, there are two other areas devoid of roads. One, the roughly triangular region southwest of Basset Creek, is mostly parkland as well, belonging to Bassett’s Creek Park. (Google simply neglected to shade it green.)
The rectangular area lying to the east of Wirth Park and west of Upton Avenue, extending almost as far north as Chestnut Avenue, has several components, the central one of which I saw as soon as I got off the bus. A school campus that I can only describe as sprawling contains both Bryn Mawr Elementary and Anwatin Middle School.
As in the previous portion of northern Bryn Mawr, I saw a diverse assortment of ages, sizes, and styles of houses, many with carefully maintained gardens. Although Bryn Mawr has many gardens (public as well as private), I encountered one at the triangular point formed by Upton Avenue and Cedar Lake Road that is labeled with the singular “Bryn Mawr Garden.”
Once I turned west on Wayzata Boulevard, I was able to see the second component of that big roadless rectangular area, this one lying south of the schools. The CenturyLink (originally Northwestern Bell) building at 2800 Wayzata Boulevard is in some ways a low-rise counterpart to the Target (originally Prudential) building that sits diagonally across the freeway/parkway intersection. It is only three years more recent, dating from 1956, and it seems to share the same Kasota-stone cladding. Both buildings also feature square windows, though these are positioned consecutively so as to form horizontal stripes, whereas on the Target building they are spaced horizontally to match their vertical spacing, forming a grid. In addition to these commonalities in the buildings themselves, both sit on park-like campuses with ample facilities for automobiles. In CenturyLink’s case, there is also a training facility for line crews.
Entering Wirth Park from the south on the Parkway, I soon forked off to the right on the side road that serves the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary. (Had there been any traffic, I would have been walking against its flow, which is restricted to southbound on this one-way road.) I entered the fenced garden through its main gateway and walked a small loop through it, not shown on my route map. Initially I headed into the rain-drenched prairie area.
I also spent a little time in the more sheltered woodland part of the garden and walked the boardwalk through the wetland (though I have no photos of the latter).
Once I left the fenced garden, I continued north on its access road to where it branches off from the main parkway. That junction is at the northern border of the Bryn Mawr neighborhood, so I turned back south on the parkway, passing to the west of Birch Pond.
Once I was back to Wayzata Boulevard, I was able to do another nearly 180-degree turn and head northward again, this time on a trail that passes through the woods.
I knew the trail was nearing its exit onto Xerxes Avenue when I saw an algae-covered pond to the east:
From what Google Map shows, the westernmost portion of this pond lies within Wirth Park but the bulk of it is east of the park. That area is the northernmost of the three segments of the big rectangular gap in the road grid. (Recall that the southern portion is the CenturyLink property and the central portion holds the elementary and middle schools.) This area, just south of the cul-de-sacs on Xerxes, Washburn, and Vincent Avenues, is known as Anwatin Woods.
Once I exited the park trail at Xerxes, I was back to exploring the residential areas. On the first block of Xerxes Avenue North (which is to say, north of Chestnut), I encountered a Little Free Library with notable decoration. Each of the two side panels contained a different painting (the southern one is shown in the photo), but the real unique design element was the roof. The shed-style roof was covered with buttons, which sadly were barely visible from the sidewalk because of the roof’s orientation. (To take the photo, I bent my no-trespassing rule far enough to step from the sidewalk onto the first step of the home’s entry path.)
From Chestnut Avenue, I was able to see a portion of Bassett’s Creek Park, and in particular three Ts: tennis courts, toadstools, and a tot-lot.
After I was done winding through the various residential streets and was finishing up on Glenwood Avenue, I noticed that there is an inviting path entering Bassett’s Creek Park from the Avenue, just west of the bridge. From the maps, I had expected the only path to be down at creek level, passing under the bridge. On some future visit, I’d like to explore where this leads.
Although the creek itself forms much of the northern border of Bryn Mawr, here where that border deviates from Glenwood Avenue, it does so along the railroad tracks instead of the creek. This incorporates within the neighborhood a little extra space bounded between Glenwood, the creek, and the tracks. That space contains the former Fruen Mill, now slated for redevelopment as phase 5 of a larger campus, most of which lies just outside the neighborhood.
Perhaps it is fitting that my walk through Bryn Mawr should end at the neighborhood’s only industrial site (albeit disused) — my next trip will be to the Camden Industrial Area.
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