Having previously walked everything north of 26th Avenue North and east of Lyndale Avenue North, I thought I’d analogously walk the southeast corner and then the remaining strip west of Lyndale. But that turned out to be a rather uneven division of the mileage, so I added some of the west-of-Lyndale portion to the southeastern portion. I’m agnostic on whether this still qualifies as southeastern or would be better described as southern; decide for yourself.
The route begins and ends at the southwest corner of Farview park; the blue squiggle to the west of the freeway is the main loop. Off of that branch two kinds of doubly walked segments. The red ones are spurs walked forward and then immediately back. The purple segment is the connector over to the eastern loop and eventually back again.
After walking one block eastward along the southern border of the park, I turned south on 6th Street North. The residences I passed varied in age, style, size, number of units, and degree of refurbishment. In the final block before the tee intersection at 21st Avenue North, one duplex stood out from the others because of its porch’s prominent sign, “CREATE” surmounted by a stellated peace sign. I wasn’t sure whether to read it as “create peace” or a dual endorsement of peacefulness and creativity. Either way, it provides a positive context for the lot immediately to the south, which is South Hawthorne Community Garden, the first of several community gardens I passed.
The reason why 6th Street tees at 21st Avenue rather than continuing to West Broadway (née 20th Avenue) is because of an intervening Kemps plant. By initially turning east, I was able to see that the plant doesn’t extend all the way to 4th Street; instead, the corner is occupied by Faith Tabernacle Gospel Fellowship International in what was once Russell Gaylord VFW Post 159. To the east of 4th Street, 21st Avenue dead ends just short of the freeway with a Kemps parking lot to its north and an electric motor repair shop to its south. Heading back westward on 21st Avenue, I passed the massive truck exit in the wall of the Kemps yard.
Walking west on 21st Avenue, I passed along the northern edge of the strip of commercial development that faces West Broadway. However, knowing that I’d see the front side before long, I concentrated instead on the north side of the avenue, mostly a mix of residences like I had previously seen.
On the northwest corner of the intersection with Dupont Avenue North, a community garden stands out for its vividly painted frames and shed. I’ve seen quite a few community gardens by now—indeed, several even in Hawthorne—and I’m quite sure this was the most colorful.
The garden’s name, Kwanzaa, connects it to the church building on the northeast corner with Emerson Avenue. That building housed the Highland Park Presbyterian Church from 1886 to 1999 (with expansion in 1931), then was bequeathed to a new Presbyterian congregation, Kwanzaa Community Church, which started at this location in 2002, but now worships elsewhere and uses this building as its Northside Healing Space. In the meantime, Kwanzaa changed names to Liberty Community Church.
From Emerson, I looped back eastward on 22nd Avenue, all the way to where it turns the corner northward onto 3rd Street. (Prior to the freeway’s construction, this was a full four-way intersection, but no more.) A couple blocks north, I saw Lynway Manor initially in profile, which is the most striking view it presents, with the notable exception of the aerial view. How does a pedestrian see the aerial view? In his mind’s eye as he walks around the property. For example, as I came abreast of this 1966 public housing building, I could see the curved entryway linking two of the wings.
After retreating south to 24th Avenue, I then took Lyndale Avenue south to West Broadway. Along the way, I passed two more churches, Iglesia Pentecostes Alfa y Omega and United Deliverance Temple.
Church congregations, you will have noticed, may succeed one another within a building. (Although occasionally they succeed a VFW post instead.) And so it turns out to be with shoe stores as well. Once I reached West Broadway, I first took an eastward spur past the largely blank front of the Kemps plant. You will recall from the back of the plant that it doesn’t extend quite to 4th Street: the ex-VFW church is on the corner. Not surprisingly, the front of the plant likewise stops short of 4th. In this case, the corner is occupied by Friedman’s Department Store, a purveyor of “shoes for the entire family.” The business is clearly long established, yet the tile entryway indicates there is another layer of history: the store was once Schuler’s.
The present-day Schuler Shoes describes their history as starting with Vincent Schuler buying a shop at Washington and Broadway (a couple blocks further east) in 1889. Yet the vintage photo accompanying this information on their web page looks quite like the Friedman’s building (the Gatzemeier Block). What gives? Vincent Schuler makes his first Minneapolis City Directory appearance in the 1890 edition, at which point his business was at 322 20th Avenue North and his residence next door at 324. In other words, he was indeed located further east, although not quite so far as Washington. (Recall that West Broadway is a renaming of 20th Avenue North.) He seems to have made a couple moves within the neighborhood in close succession. The 1892 edition has his business at 310, and the 1896 edition shows him as a “Dealer in Up to Date Footwear” at 400, where he presumably planned to remain for long enough to be worth having tile laid and a photo taken for his descendants’ web site.
Indeed, Schuler’s shop did remain at 400 for considerably longer than at the earlier locations, though his residence shifted away and his nephew Otto took over the business. The 1926 directory still lists 400 West Broadway, though now as one of two business locations for Otto Schuler. And then in 1927, the Schuler shoe store had moved on. Perhaps the 400 West Broadway location was temporarily without a shoe store; this directory doesn’t show one there. On the other hand, Benjamin Friedman was selling shoes over by Washington Avenue at 234 West Broadway as well as at 1511 Franklin Avenue East.
The niche didn’t remain vacant for long, however. As of the 1928 directory, Henry O. Morrison was selling shoes at 400 West Broadway as well as 325 Cedar Avenue. (The year before, he had only one location. It was on Cedar Avenue, but at 262. Clearly instability of tenancy was not unique to West Broadway.)
And finally in the 1930 directory the day comes when Benjamin and Sadie Friedman have their shoe business at 400 West Broadway (as well as still at 234). And so that is the point from which today’s business at today’s location dates, although both the business and the location are older. The changes can be viewed through either of two lenses. One can trace the movements of individual shoe sellers, or one can remain focused on this one location and chronicle its tenants. Taking the latter approach, we see Schuler’s 1896–1926, Morrison’s 1928–1929, and Friedman’s from 1930 to the present.
OK, that was quite a digression from the travelogue, all prompted by one mismatch between tile and signs. Back when I was walking rather than researching, I did an about-face at 4th Street and proceeded west on West Broadway to Bryant Avenue before turning north on Aldrich.
On the northwest corner with Aldrich, the colorful facade of 800 West Broadway Avenue is merely the most visible sign of a thorough renovation in 2016–2017. The primary tenants are the North Minneapolis Workforce Center and a branch of NorthPoint Health on the ground floor and the Minneapolis Academy and Career Center on the second floor. There is also ground floor retail space available for lease facing West Broadway; when I walked by, one section was occupied by a tax preparation office, while the rest is still being built out.
On the opposite side of Aldrich Avenue and set back at the 21st Avenue end of the block, Sanctuary Covenant Church occupies a 2002 commercial building substantially remodeled and extended in 2016–2017. The metal siding facing the two streets gives the building a fresh, contemporary look, while the bright red pillar on the corner under the cross reminds me of a liturgical banner.
After turning east from Aldrich Avenue on 23rd Avenue and walking all the way to the tee at 3rd Street, I backed up to 4th Street and returned to West Broadway along the east side of Friedman’s. This stretch of 4th Street was the start of the connector to the east loop. The connector continued east over the freeway to Washington Avenue, but I had a stop to make before reaching the freeway. I needed to pick up some lunch at Wings N’ Things, a to-go establishment that also has a service window into the Fourth Street Saloon.
As the name implies, they sell wings (traditional, boneless, or whole). However, for me the more interesting part of the menu was the seafood section, and in particular the subsection headed “from the boil.” I got a pound of crawfish, which were tossed in a moderately spicy, garlic-laden sauce with a section of corn on the cob and a potato. When I dug into them at my next stop, they were quite flavorful. Before I got there, though, I had to cross the freeway. As I did so, looking back at the building containing Wings N’ Things gave me a good view of Charles Caldwell’s famous mural.
Once I had crossed the bridge to the east side of the freeway, I walked a couple blocks north on Washington Avenue, then retreated to 21st Avenue North. This provided access to the alleyway running behind the 2000 block of Washington, and in particular to the Boom Island Brewing Company’s taproom. I was six hours too early for their noteworthy jazz but they did have plenty of beer and hospitality to offer. All of their beers are Belgian-inspired, although some use the tradition only as a jumping off point. One of the seasonal specials proved to be up to the crawfish challenge as well as very much to my taste: Harvest Rye, a rye variant of the saison style
Once I was back out and exploring the area, I discovered it to be such an eclectic mix as to defy easy cataloging. Unlike further north, I didn’t see any large-scale industrial facilities, but there were any number of smaller ones, custom cabinetmakers, automotive shops, wholesale distributors (from fish to industrial supplies), self-storage for classic autos, and just about anything else that needed a bit of space.
One of the first things to catch my eye, in the 2000 block of 2nd Street North, is the Vogel Custom Manufacturing plant and the associated Diamond Vogel Factory Store. I find it somewhat remarkable that this is the third paint factory I’ve encountered while walking Minneapolis. (The first two were the Hirshfield’s Paint Manufacturing facility in the Camden Industrial Area and the Valspar complex in Downtown East.)
Most of the the buildings in this area are sufficiently recent that even one from the 1920s seemed old by comparison. The only sign I saw that the area dated to the 19th century was the 1885 Northwind Lofts, part of the sprawling complex originally occupied by the Bardwell-Robinson Company, described by a nearby ghost sign as “manufacturers of high grade interior finish sash•doors•mouldings.”
If you’ve followed along closely on the route map, you’ll realize that I passed the western edge of the Northwind Lofts area when I was headed northbound on 2nd Street, but that I didn’t get my opportunity to photograph its historic facade on 24th Avenue North until later, when I was headed back south on Washington Avenue and branched off onto the westward spur on 24th. That implies I’ve skipped over a lot of miscellaneous detail. Likewise, I’ll compress the entire 23rd Avenue spur down to a single vignette from where it branches off of Washington.
Anyone who has ever traveled by air has probably watched a conveyer belt carrying baggage into a hold. Or if we travel by highway, we see the chevron-cleated belts on pavement-milling machines shooting ground-up asphalt into an adjacent dump truck. But how many of us wonder where those belts come from? My first hint of an answer was when I saw the sign, “Baldwin Supply Company, Belting and Rubber Division.” And then, as I rounded the adjacent lot, there indeed were roll after roll of various kinds of belting. Everything ever used has a supply chain, and many of those supply chains lead through areas like this.
After these two spurs, the main (blue) part of my path finally headed riverward on 22nd Avenue North. That provided an example of another common situation in industrial areas, which is for buildings to be subdivided among several smaller companies. The North Minneapolis Business Center on the corner of 2nd Street and 22nd Avenue North is anchored by American Chemical, an adhesives company, but also contains Safari Pride Coffee, a specialty roaster and importer profiled by Shaina Brassard in the Twin Cities Daily Planet.
Once I got to the river, I was able to see how much its role has changed since the 19th century. The whole reason the eastern part of Hawthorne is an industrial area is because the river was good for transportation, in particular of lumber. Today, on the other hand, it is a scenic and recreational resource. Instead of factories interfacing between river and railroad, I saw newly constructed office and residential buildings with broad expanses of glass looking out over the river, with a park further down the bank.
LifeSource, a nonprofit organ, eye, and tissue donation organization, occupies a structure from 2014 that broadly fits the “office building” category, though it also includes lab facilities. And the Riverview Townhomes, which were built just north of there about a decade earlier, exemplify the transition to residential use. (In zoning terminology, this riverfront area is an “industrial living overlay district.”)
Across the street from the townhomes, Orvin “Ole” Olson Park is one of Minneapolis’s newest parks, acquired in 2002, given its current name in 2006, and provided with trail access in 2007. Along with the townhomes, it uses the space where the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Omaha Railway engine house was located. The former Northern Pacific bridge is visible in the background.
Speaking of the railway, after I finished up along the river and was heading back westward on West Broadway, I walked under a side-by-side pair of railroad bridges, each capable of carrying two tracks. In an automobile, I might not have even noticed that it was a pair of bridges as opposed to a single bridge. I certainly would have been unlikely to notice that although superficially similar, they are engineered differently, suggesting they were built at different times. Indeed the 1885 atlas shows just two Northern Pacific tracks, whereas the 1914 atlas shows four tracks.
Once I was back on the west side of the freeway and had retraced my steps all the way to the corner of 4th Street and 23rd Avenue, I just had a little more of the historically residential area left to see. In that limited space, though, I saw a nice example of how varied the construction can be even within the space of a few years and neighboring blocks. Associating architectural styles with periods and regions is natural but leads to the pitfall of overgeneralization.
First, on the northeast corner of 4th Street and 25th Avenue, I saw a pair of wooden-frame four-plex buildings. The building permit index cards confirm not only that they were built by the same developer in 1889, but also that they were four-plexes from the start, rather than being large single-family houses that were subsequently subdivided. So this was one form of modest housing available in this area in the 1880s.
I saw a quite different form as I turned the next corner. Between 4th and 3rd Streets, the north side of 26th Avenue North is occupied by concrete-block rowhouses from 1885, which are a historic landmark, as mentioned when I walked along the eastern side. Looking up at the roofline, the most obvious decorative detail is the row of simulated rafter ends, concrete imitations of stone imitations of wood. However, look closely at the tops of the vertical strips that mark the division into dwelling units. You’ll see that they alternate between hearts and stars. That’s the kind of small-scale decorative touch that tells me this building was meant to be read at pedestrian speed.
After looping back to Lyndale Avenue, I returned to my starting point at the intersection of 26th and Lyndale Avenues. On the southwest corner of that intersection (kitty corner from Farview Park), the Iglesia Vino Nuevo El Rey Jesús occupies the brick church building that was constructed in 1910 for Zion Norwegian Lutheran Church, with a parish hall added in 1955. The Zion congregation, having in them meantime become at least as Liberian as Norwegian, merged into the nearby Swedish-heritage Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church in 2002 to form River of Life Lutheran Church.
When I return to the neighborhood, this will be the eastern edge of the remaining region. As such, I won’t be seeing any more industrial land use, just residences with a retail border. I suspect I’ll also see signs that the area was developed somewhat more recently; the city spread away from the river. I’m eager to get back and see if I’m right about that. Stay tuned!
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