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Walking All the Streets of Central Hiawatha

I returned to the Hiawatha neighborhood, having previously walked most of the area north of 43rd Street. This time I started at 46th Street and Hiawatha Avenue, where I could cross the avenue from the 46th Street Station. Initially I walked north on Hiawatha to 45th Street—that’s the block shown in purple—then did the main blue loop from A back to B, with a few red spurs off of it, and finally repeated the purple block back to the station.

On the previous walk, I had seen the long-standing grain and millwork industries along Hiawatha Avenue. As I started this second walk, I saw more of the present-day diversity. For example, health and beauty productsfountains, and large-format prints are all produced within a two-block stretch of Hiawatha.

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Bell International Laboratories, 4525 Hiawatha Ave.

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Flair Fountains, 4501 Hiawatha Ave.

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Big Print, 4439 Hiawatha Ave.

Sometimes the building interests me as much as its present occupant. Hiawatha Reddy Rents supports many other businesses with its rental equipment, but my eye was drawn not to the equipment in the lot but rather to the streamline moderne curves of its building. The curved end with glass blocks is the most dramatic, but the lower-key entryway has a lot of period charm too, including its own curves. A similarly curve-sided entryway a block north graces the otherwise boxy Simply Self Storage. Both buildings date from 1946; they initially housed Minneapolis Plastic Moulders and the Char-Gale Manufacturing Company, respectively.

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Hiawatha Reddy Rents, 4411 Hiawatha Ave.

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Hiawatha Reddy Rents, 4411 Hiawatha Ave.

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Simply Self Storage, 4325 Hiawatha Ave.

Retreating to 44th Street and turning east, the south side of the street between the railroad tracks and Snelling Avenue is the former Department of Public Works Snelling Yards, now awaiting redevelopment. Again, my eye was drawn to a period detail, the lettering on an equipment storage building from 1960. Soon the building as a whole will be gone, but for 58 years, the city’s choice not to replace the signage was an act of historic preservation, however unintentional. Typographic styles are every bit as much heritage as architectural ones are.

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Snelling Yards (Awaiting Redevelopment), 3601 44th St. E.

The redeveloped Snelling Yards will look much more like the complex on the north side of 44th Street, Hiawatha Flats.

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Hiawatha Flats from 44th St. E.

After Hiawatha and Snelling, I crossed one more diagonal avenue, Minnehaha, before entering the orthogonal grid of numbered avenues and streets. As I had seen further north, Minnehaha tends more toward neighborhood retail businesses. (It was home to a streetcar line.) In particular, the northeast corner with 44th Street has a retail strip with two of the three units facing Minnehaha occupied by Parkway Pizza. The one unit on 44th Street is now part of Parkway Pizza as well, although from the window decal, one can see that Fast Edddie’s Pizza used to be here. As elsewhere in the neighborhood, the trash bin features a colorful mosaic.

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Trash Bin, Northeast Corner of 44th St. E. and Minnehaha Ave.

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Parkway Pizza, 4359 Minnehaha Ave.

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Parkway Pizza’s 44th St. Side: Former Fast Eddie’s Pizza

Three blocks later, I turned south on 42nd Avenue South and was surprised to see another pizzeria. The difference is that DiNoko’s pies are deep dish. Visually, the most interesting feature is the painted benches surrounding the front patio.

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DiNoko’s Pizzeria, 4457 42nd Ave. S.

Where 42nd Avenue tees into Nawadaha Boulevard, I turned east to 46th Avenue, then retreated back to 44th Avenue. The boulevard marks the border between the developed part of the neighborhood and Minnehaha Regional Park, which I’ll visit on a subsequent day. I took the photo below after turning my about-face, so the park is on the left and residences on the right. As you can see, even the narrow strip between Nawadaha Boulevard and Godfrey Parkway is parklike.

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Minnehaha Regional Park and Nawadaha Blvd. at 44th Ave. S.

I try not to read too much about a neighborhood before I visit it, so that I’ll see it with my eyes rather than my expectations. Much of what I see would be unlikely to be previously cataloged in any case. One can read about the pizzerias of Hiawatha, but has anyone written of the tree houses? Heading north on 44th Avenue, I turned my head as I crossed 44th Street and saw one. Then returning south on 45th Avenue, I saw another just a few blocks away. Perhaps they cluster by contagion; someone sees a good idea and emulates it.

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Treehouse, 4400 Block of 44th St. E.

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Treehouse, 4600 Block of 45th Ave. S.

After walking five east-west blocks of 46th Street, I turned my attention back to the north-south direction with 43rd Avenue, initially southward to Nawadaha, then back northward to 43rd Street. That allowed me to loop back via the 4300 block of 42nd Avenue to where I had left 44th Street early in the walk. Now I resumed my eastward use of 44th Street to reach 46th Avenue, the eastern border of this day’s region.

Like Minnehaha Avenue, this portion of 46th Avenue had a streetcar line, this one serving the Ford plant in St. Paul. On the first day in the neighborhood, I had observed this line’s considerable remaining impact on the intersection of 42nd Avenue and 41st Street. Here on 46th Avenue, I had to look a bit more closely. To see how common corner stores were in streetcar neighborhoods, you need to keep an eye out for residences with corner entrances.

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4401 46th Ave. S. (Former Corner Store)

After returning westward from 46th Avenue on 45th Street, I did another north-south loop on 40th and 41st Avenues. As I headed south on 41st Avenue, I got a chuckle out of one of the houses I passed—it was watching me. Whoever chose to put eyes on this particular house’s door made an effective choice; the jerkinhead roof contributes to the impression of a face.

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Watchful 4304 41st Ave. S. (1921)

From 41st Avenue, I only needed to take a single block of 46th Street to return to Minnehaha Avenue. That intervening block is within the Minnehaha Avenue commercial district. In particular, on the northwest corner with 41st Avenue, a 1926 retail building holds Solid State Vinyl Records. The front has been painted, but you can still get a sense of the decorative brickwork.

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Solid State Vinyl Records, 4022 46th St. E.

Turning north onto Minnehaha Avenue, I saw two former filling stations of different ages. On the northwest corner with 46th Street, the dramatic triangular overhang and broad expanse of glass signal a 1964 filling station (now Minnehaha Falls Family Dental), whereas the southeast corner with 45th Street has a boxy 1939 station (now Minnehaha Recording Company). As it turns out, they are connected by more than proximity: Phillips 66 was in the 1939 station until 1964, when it moved across to the new building. The recording company’s website has more information about the building’s history, among other topics. (I’m not a recording artist, but it’s an interesting, well constructed website.)

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Minnehaha Falls Family Dental, 4554 Minnehaha Ave.

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Minnehaha Recording Company, 4501 Minnehaha Ave.

Across 45th Street from the recording company, Minnehaha Falls Nursery and Landscape is home to a suitably themed trash bin mosaic, as well as the bike racks distinctive of the Minnehaha Avenue commercial district. And then some sidewalk graffiti called out to me. In almost two years walking “All of Minneapolis,” this is only the second time I’ve wondered whether one of my readers looked ahead to where I was going next and planted something specifically for me to see.

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Trash Bin, Northeast Corner of Minnehaha Ave. and 45th St. E.

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Bike Rack at Minnehaha Falls Nursery, 4461 Minnehaha Ave.

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Sidewalk Graffiti, 4400 Block of Minnehaha Ave.

The end of that block is 44th Street, with Parkway Pizza on the northeast corner. On the southeast corner, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church occupies a 1956 gothic building that previously housed a Lutheran congregation.

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Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, 4401 Minnehaha Ave.

From here, the main loop continued up Minnehaha to 42nd Street, then back from 42nd to 45th Street via Snelling Avenue. As it happens, three of the sights I found most interesting were at this main loop’s intersections with the 43rd Street spur. First, as I left Minnehaha Avenue on 43rd Street, I saw another treehouse on the southwest corner and Ballare Teatro Performing Arts Center on the northeast corner. Then, on the northeast corner of 43rd Street and Snelling Avenue, two duplexes stood out for their 1947 construction. Nearly all of the other residences I had seen were built either prior to 1930 or after 2000.

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Treehouse, 3700 Block of 43rd St. E.

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Ballare Teatro Performing Arts Center, 4259 Minnehaha Ave.

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4249–4251 Snelling Ave. S. (1947)

Still to come: the riverside portion of the neighborhood, the park, and the Veterans Home.

Editor’s Note: Max Hailperin is walking each of Minneapolis’ 87 neighborhoods, in alphabetical order. He chronicles his adventures at allofminneapolis.com, where the original version of this article was published March 28, 2018. We’re sharing them here at streets.mn.
Max Hailperin

About Max Hailperin

Max Hailperin's personal project is allofminneapolis.com. Minneapolis has 87 neighborhoods, including the three industrial areas. Some he knows well, others he has not yet entered. However, he has committed to explore all of them on foot: every block of every street in every neighborhood. He is working through the neighborhoods alphabetically, from Armatage to Windom Park, so as to focus in one area, then hop to somewhere else.

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