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 my first day in CARAG, I had walked the few blocks south of West 34th Street, so upon returning I filled in everything north of there. I also needed to walk one block further south on Lyndale Avenue, as I had previously missed that. That 3400 block of Lyndale and the 3200 block of Hennepin are shown in red on my route map to indicate I walked them as U-turn spurs off of my main route. The main route (in blue) passes through all of the other blocks, looping through some of them a second time.
I met up with Jeremy Iggers at the intersection of 31st and Hennepin, which is the southwest corner of the Calhoun Square shopping center. The most visually striking element of this large commercial block is a mural that was added in 2015.
We turned east on Lake Street and proceeded to use the avenues to loop back and forth between Lake and 34th: south on Fremont, north on Girard, south on Dupont, north on Emerson, and so forth. Although the boundary streets of Hennepin, Lake, and Lyndale are all major commercial thoroughfares, the remainder of the area is essentially entirely residential.
Already on Fremont we saw a mix of residential buildings: old and new, apartments and single-family detached homes. Even in such a diverse mix, a building can stand out as different from all the others. In the case of 3121 Fremont Avenue South, the distinctive feature was the complete lack of any windows or doors on the front of the building. This blank expanse of brick (dating from 1963) could easily be mistaken for a telephone switching station, until one sees that it has a regular array of windows and doors on the side. It consists of five two-story units in a row, essentially a modern townhouse, simply turned perpendicular to the avenue.
In the next block, Jeremy called my attention to a sculptural arrangement of three indigo-painted cubes with rebar and stone. If any of my readers knows more about this, such as the artist to credit, I would welcome that information.
The front door of the apartment building at 3300 Girard Avenue attracted our attention with its ornate glass panel advertising the name “John Dillinger.” Somewhat confusingly, this refers to the famous outlaw having occupied an apartment not in this building, but rather in the one across 33rd Street, The Santa Monica.
Another apartment building on Girard, The Stuart, looks at first glance like a classic example of the “revival” style typical of its time (1929), incorporating many ornate design elements intended to hearken back to much earlier European antecedents. However, what really drew my eye to it is one element that stands out because it is not a revival from an earlier period, but rather is a fresh, modern element from the the time of the building’s construction:
Can a 1929-era design detail be anachronistic in a 1929 building? Perhaps it is the one chronistic detail in an otherwise anachronistic facade. In any case, whether an anachronism or a chronism, here is a more detailed view:
The words “THE STUART” are rendered in a geometric stencil-style typeface, quite similar to Paul Renner’s Futura Black, which had just been released in 1928. If anything, the letter forms on this building are even more reflective of the Bauhaus fascination with geometric shapes: note especially the triangular crosspiece on the H.
At the corner of West Lake Street and Emerson Avenue South, a commercial building had been torn down and site preparation was underway for the forthcoming Moxy Hotel. I’m interested that hotels are beginning to spread to more of Minneapolis, but I was also interested in the construction for another more immediate reason. I’ve always wanted to see the inside of a traffic signal control box, and now I had my opportunity. Apparently the construction required the box to be relocated, and the city crew was at work on it.
On Emerson Avenue, I remembered that my readers might appreciate one photo that typifies the overall feel of the neighborhood, rather than focusing on a quirky detail. In this photo, an older revival-style apartment building sits side by side with a detached house on the tree-lined avenue.
Anyone who has been down West Lake Street is likely to recognize the Mohn Electric Company.
I saw many nice yards and boulevards, but one property on the 3200 block of Colfax stood out for particularly attractive landscaping. I only wish the photo could do it justice.
Even though I wasn’t planning on shopping, I couldn’t resist swinging through Bill’s Imported Foods, which has long been a favorite of mine. “Imported from where?,” you may ask. A lot of places. The epicenter seems to be south-central Europe, with many kinds of feta, ajvar, ground sumac, and other delicacies. However, the boundaries are hard to specify; the first thing to catch my eye when I walked in the door was organic (“biologisch”) honey from Germany.
Turning the corner from Lake onto Lyndale, I got a good view of the diversity the Lyn-Lake commercial district offers, including a fossil shop next to a Sichuan restaurant. The taller ochre-painted building in the background is the Latham Building, which contains a mix of apartments and retail, including the “progressive sex toy store” Smitten Kitten. Befitting this building’s greater age (1901), the lettering of its name has some Art Nouveau flourishes.
The White Castle Building Number 8 is a nationally designated historical place, a prefabricated building constructed by a subsidiary of the fast-food chain in 1936, moved once while a restaurant, and then moved again to its currently location on Lyndale after its retirement.
After reaching my southernmost point on Lyndale, I finished off the residential core of the neighborhood, first heading north on Aldrich and then doing some westward and eastward passes on 31st, 32nd, and 33rd Streets. Because the residences themselves were similar to those I saw earlier, I’ll close with some garden photos from Aldrich Avenue.
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