Cedar-Riverside 2: Medical Center, Riverside Park, and Augsburg College

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 on my first day in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, I used the number 2 bus to get to my starting point, marked A on the following map. Hours later, I finished at the point marked B, a block away. In between, I followed the circuitous route marked in blue, augmented by the red spurs. (The easternmost part of the blue route extends outside the neighborhood, as indicated by the black shading.)

Heading southeast on Riverside Avenue, the University of Minnesota Medical Center — West Bank Campus was on my left. Almost immediately I turned north on 24th Avenue South, a one-block spur that provides access to the Children’s Emergency Department and the Riverside Professional Building. This meant walking along the west side of the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, which is to say, the side directly illuminated by the morning sun. The colored glow of the siding panels was strong enough to tint the branches of an adjoining tree, while a shadow added to the drama.

Morning Sun on University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital

Morning Sun on University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital

Returning to Riverside Avenue, I was able to see the entire Children’s Hospital in context of the East Building of the sprawling adult facility.

University of Minnesota Medical Center — West Bank Campus

University of Minnesota Medical Center — West Bank Campus

The East Building dates to 1958, which means it predates not only the 1997 merger of the former Fairview Riverside Hospital with the University’s Medical Center (located on the East Bank), but also the 1986 merger of Fairview with the adjoining St. Mary’s Hospital. The East Building, and the east side of the complex more generally, were St. Mary’s, operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. This became clear to me when I walked up 25th Avenue and encountered Mary herself in a garden overlooking the river bluff.

St. Mary’s Garden

St. Mary’s Garden

The plaque to the left of the statue, dating to a time between the mergers (1990), dedicates the garden to the sisters who worked there, while the much older (1931) plaque to the right commemorates the 1914 meeting held at St. Mary’s that lead to the founding of the Catholic Hospital Association (now the Catholic Health Association).

Between the river bluff and the 1958 East Building lies the older [pre-]1900 portion of St. Mary’s, now used for administrative offices.

Old St. Mary’s Hospital

Old St. Mary’s Hospital

The east side of the campus also includes a couple medical office buildings and the Minneapolis campus of St. Catherine’s University, another institution associated with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet. (The healthcare-related educational programs were part of St. Mary’s until shortly before the Fairview merger.)

Passing those buildings on 7th Street, I exited the medical center into the quietest part of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, which is the upper portion of Riverside Park and the few blocks of adjoining residential area.

Riverside Park

Riverside Park

As elsewhere in the city, ash trees needed to be taken down to prevent further spread of the emerald ash borer. I admired one particularly large tree that was lying in segments.

Ash Tree Felled in Riverside Park; Counting Rings Left as Exercise

Ash Tree Felled in Riverside Park; Counting Rings Left as Exercise

This park has a particularly long history. The stone bathhouse looks old today, but by the time the WPA constructed it in 1933, the park was already almost half a century old.

Depression-Era Bathhouse in Riverside Park

Depression-Era Bathhouse in Riverside Park

Because of the steep bluff, I couldn’t readily cut through the park to the West River Parkway. Instead, I followed Franklin Terrace under Interstate 94 to where it connects with the parkway on the other side. Heading into the freeway overpass, yellow flowers grew in luxuriant disregard to the calendar.

Roadside Flowers on November 16th

Roadside Flowers on November 16th

The park history mentions that the WPA’s work in the 1930s also included “stone steps leading from the upper level of the park to the lower level,” which were probably the first set I saw from below.

WPA-Constructed Steps in Riverside Park

WPA-Constructed Steps in Riverside Park

Just a bit further east, I saw a second set of steps, in rougher condition and considerably more overgrown. Could these be the ones from 1890 mentioned in the park history?

Older Steps in Riverside Park

Older Steps in Riverside Park

Walking along the river on a beautiful fall day, I admired both the scenery and the graffiti art present on the river wall and retaining walls.

River Wall

River Wall

Looking west, I could see a small barge landing on the near side of the Washington Avenue bridge, with the Bohemian Flats recreational landing on the far side. Past the bridge was Riverside Tower, near where I began my previous day’s walk, while university buildings dominated the nearer shoreline.

West River Parkway View

West River Parkway View

After completing my walk along the West River Parkway, I turned inland (and uphill) along 4th Street, which took me through the University of Minnesota’s Arts Quarter and between the two buildings of the Carlson School of Management. I then turned south on 20th Avenue and crossed Riverside Avenue. On the corner, a striking building houses the People’s Center, a health care organization formed by neighborhood activists in 1968. (Other dates that jumped out of their timeline: incorporated in 1970, first CEO hired in 1992.) Next to it are the Regis Center for Art — West and the dramatically angled Barker Center for Dance.

Three Center’s: People’s, Regis, and Barker

Three Center’s: People’s, Regis, and Barker

Once I was south of Riverside on 20th Avenue, I was able to look back and see not only another view of the Barker Center but also (in the foreground) the colorfully painted administrative building of the Trinity Lutheran Congregation, which worships in the Augsburg College chapel. The side and back of the building depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments respectively, mingled with visitors from the present. (One wears a Minnesota T-shirt.) Most of the labels are in both Roman and Amharic letters, although at least Abraham is also labeled in Hebrew. The four evangelists are represented by their traditional symbols: an angel, eagle, lion, and bull. (The bull took me a while to find, largely hidden behind the lion.)

Trinity Lutheran Congregation, 2001 Riverside Ave.

Trinity Lutheran Congregation, 2001 Riverside Ave.

I now wound my way through the Augsburg campus, admiring its handsome buildings old and new. Ironically, one of the first buildings I encountered was the Oren Gateway Center, in front of which I would eventually catch my bus home, after seeing the rest of the campus and some more of the medical center. (Such is life with a circuitous route.)

Oren Gateway Center, 610 22nd Ave. S.

Oren Gateway Center, 610 22nd Ave. S.

An even newer building under construction eliminated 7th Street between 20th and 21st Avenues, causing me some extra backtracking. The Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion made up for the inconvenience by giving me the opportunity to admire its exposed structure. Only after staring at it for a while did I notice something unusual: a lower triangle is suspended from the upper triangle, rather than being supported from below. It turns out this will be the Gundale Chapel, suspended from the third-floor lobby roof.

Hagfors Center Lobby with Suspended Gundale Chapel

Hagfors Center Lobby with Suspended Gundale Chapel

The construction site fence serves as the medium for a multi-lingual, community-participation art project, the Wonder Project.

Wonder Project

Wonder Project

At the complete other end of the age range, the Old Main building impressed me with its elegant detailing and massive proportions. Oddly, the historic landmark page lists the building as from 1901, yet the inscription on the front clearly says MCM. Perhaps it reflected some optimism about completion. The other inscription on the front labels the institution as “Augsburg Seminary,” as it then was.

Old Main Details

Old Main Details

Augsburg College’s Old Main, 731 21st Ave. S.

Augsburg College’s Old Main, 731 21st Ave. S.

I followed 7th Street to 22nd Avenue and crossed the avenue to a diagonal path leading in front of the Hoversten Chapel. Taking that path was a rare exception to my no-private-property rule; it allowed me to loop around via an otherwise missing half block of Riverside Avenue before heading back south on 22nd Avenue. The photo I took at that corner gives a good sense for how close the college is to the medical center.

Augsburg’s Hoversten Chapel, the Medical Center Red Ramp, and Children’s Hospital

Augsburg’s Hoversten Chapel, the Medical Center Red Ramp, and Children’s Hospital

Behind the Anderson Music Hall, I came across the “Ode to Joy Music Plaza,” a collection of bells with attached mallets installed at the 40th anniversary of the music therapy program.

Ode to Joy Music Plaza

Ode to Joy Music Plaza

The southern edge of campus is pressed closely against Interstate 94, or rather the other way around, historically speaking. However, Butler Place does intervene, so I followed that past an interesting athletic facility. My biggest clue that something was out of the ordinary was the scoreboard on the outside of the inflated dome, where no one would be able to see it. In keeping with the constrained urban footprint of the campus, Edor Nelson Field and Dome does double duty depending on the season. “Every fall after Augsburg fall sports complete their home seasons, student-athletes and coaches from all Augsburg sports teams assist in the installation of the dome, and in the spring, the teams gather again to assist in taking the dome down.”

Edor Nelson Field and Dome

Edor Nelson Field and Dome

As I walked by the dome, I could hear polka music inside, together with the booming voice of an announcer, his words unintelligible to me. It turns out that the college’s Physical Education and Exercise Science students were putting on their 16th Annual Sports Extravaganza, an adaptive sports event for students from dozens of schools in the region — one of the components of which is dancing.

After finishing with Augsburg’s campus, I exited to Riverside Avenue on 23rd Avenue (right where I had gotten off the bus at the start of my walk), and skirted around the Red Ramp into the western part of the medical center. As on the eastern side, my eye was drawn away from the modern entrance to the older, original building, this time of Fairview Hospital.

Fairview Hospital (1914)

Fairview Hospital (1914)

In front of the West Building’s adult emergency entrance, a sculpture of an kneeling adult holding a child looks even better when silhouetted against the brutalist Riverside Professional Building (1974).

Riverside Professional Building and West Building Entrance Sculpture

Riverside Professional Building and West Building Entrance Sculpture

After looping through the westernmost bit of the medical center and the southeastern tip of the university campus, I came back out onto Riverside Avenue at 21st Avenue and walked one block southeast on Riverside, past Augsburg’s Oren Gateway Center, to my ending point at 22nd Avenue. As I waited for my bus, I saw across the way a point of interest standing out from its background of medical buildings: Sisterhood Boutique, “a business venture designed and run by East African women, ages 14–23.”

Sisterhood Boutique, 2200 Riverside Ave.

Sisterhood Boutique, 2200 Riverside Ave.

This article was published November 18, 2016, on the author’s All of Minneapolis blog. The original version is available there.

Streets.mn is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

, , ,

2 Responses to Cedar-Riverside 2: Medical Center, Riverside Park, and Augsburg College

  1. David Markle
    David Markle April 29, 2017 at 6:18 pm #

    The building immediately above, that contains the Sisterhood Boutique, has long been known around here as the “Smiley’s Point Building,” after a much earlier occupant.

    • Max Hailperin
      Max Hailperin April 30, 2017 at 6:50 am #

      Thanks, that’s a helpful addition. Without looking into old city directories or anything, I’d bet that the much earlier occupant that gave the name to the building was not the Smiley’s Clinic that occupied it for a while — rather, I’m betting, the building gave its name to the clinic, which now has retained it through a couple subsequent relocations.

Note on Comments

streets.mn welcomes opinions from many perspectives. Please refrain from attacking or disparaging others in your comments. streets.mn sees debate as a learning opportunity. Please share your perspective in a respectful manner. View our full comment policy to learn more.

Thanks for commenting on streets.mn!