Walking All the Streets of Western Holland

The Holland neighborhood is centrally located within Northeast Minneapolis. Indeed, of 13 neighborhoods in Northeast, Holland and Logan Park are the only two that are surrounded entirely by other Northeast neighborhoods. As shown by the blue tint in the route map, its western, northern, and eastern borders are University, 27th, and Central Avenues, and its southern border is 17th Avenue west of Washington Street and 19th Avenue east of there. All street and avenue names in this area are designated NE; for brevity, I’ll leave it off aside from in captions.

For this first day, I focused on the the western (University Avenue) portion, leaving the eastern (Central Avenue) portion for later. However, I didn’t divide the neighborhood on a north–south line, but rather diagonally, mostly along the railroad tracks. The blue line indicates my main loop from 26th and Central Avenues back to that point, whereas the red lines are spurs.

Walking east on 26th Avenue, the industrial area between 26th and 27th Avenues was to my left, and I could see it was undergoing demolition. More on that at the end of the walk, when I use a spur to see that block’s western and northern sides. The area to the right was residential. This pattern of land uses mostly held throughout the walk: industrial near the railroad tracks, retail on a few main streets, and residential throughout the rest together with institutions such as churches. Most of the structures look like they were built in the first three decades of the 20th century.

As a pedestrian, I was able to continue straight through the intersection with 4th Street, whereas a diagonal diverter forms a dead end for cars coming from this direction. The only automotive connection is between the 400 block of 26th Avenue and 4th Street. As I neared the railroad tracks at 5th Street, I had no option but to turn south.

As I crossed Lowry Avenue, the building on the southwest corner provided a first example of a phenomenon I observed repeatedly: a residential building that showed signs of having once been a store. Indeed the permit index card shows that it was constructed in 1922 as “store & flats.” Other places this is signaled by a corner entrance, but here the sign is just a mismatch between the first-floor front and the rest. I didn’t look up every place like this I passed, but the neighborhood definitely seems to have been developed in a time when shopping local was measured in blocks, not miles.

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2428 5th St. NE

Camouflage can be quite effective. Even though I actively pay attention while walking, I almost missed one of the two giraffe’s standing outside a duplex in the 2200 block of 5th Street. A resident came out, introduced himself as Mark, and gave his permission to use the photo. I’m guessing it was Mark Safford of Giraffe Gallery. This wasn’t the last place I saw the neighborhood’s density of artists either. For example, a couple blocks later on the northeast corner with 20th Avenue I passed the cleverly named 2001 A Space.

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Giraffe Gallery, 2223 5th St. NE

Still on the 2200 block, though, I saw the first of three churches. The history of this one, the Sacred Heart Polish National Church, provides some clue as to why there are so many. It was built in 1914 by breakaway parishioners from Holy Cross who wanted to retain Polish culture.

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Sacred Heart Polish National Church, 2200 5th St. NE

The Polish influence continued into the next block, where I passed Pulaski Auditorium, a multi-purpose cultural hall.

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Pulaski Auditorium, 2114 5th St. NE

Nor is the Polish nationality the only one represented in the Holland neighborhood or even on 5th Street. (But no, the Netherlands are not among them. The neighborhood is named for Josiah Gilbert Holland.) The building on the southeast corner with 20th Avenue bears intriguing traces of a previous Greek Orthodox presence. However, upon digging a bit deeper, the ethnicity in question turns out to be Rusyn rather than Greek.

With two exceptions, the building looks like apartments from the 1920s. In addition to the glass-block cross in the arched element surrounding the front doors, the facade’s other incongruous feature is a date stone inscribed “St. Nicholas Greek Catholic Church 1942,” with a Russian Orthodox cross. A check of the building permit index reveals that the structure was built in 1925 as a combination store and apartment building and converted in 1942 to a chapel, with the permit issued to “St. Nicholas Carpathian Russian Church.” (Incidentally, the last use of the store area prior to this conversion appears to have been as a saloon.) More recent property records show that the church sold the building in 1986 and it has reverted to residential use. The 1942 date is just a few years after the Carpatho-Russian church’s move back into the Greek Orthodox hierarchy, away from Rome, as another resistance to increased Latinization.

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Former St. Nicholas Greek Catholic Church, 1927 5th St. NE

Nor was this the end of my orientation to Orthodox church history on 5th Street—not even the history of Orthodox churches formed by Rusyn immigrants from Carpathian Ruthenia. At the southern border of the neighborhood, 17th Avenue, St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral is on the south side of the avenue in the Sheridan neighborhood, but their parish center and school (dating from 1957) is on the northeast corner, so within my scope for the day. I had originally thought this church was ethnically distinct from St. Nicholas; based on the latter’s “Carpatho-Russian” name, I had thought it was founded by ethnically-Russian immigrants from Carpathian Ruthenia. However, the church organization’s website makes clear that it too was founded by Carpatho-Rusyns. Instead, the fundamental distinction seems to be that St. Mary’s belongs to a different Orthodox church organization, the Orthodox Church in America.

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St. Mary’s Parish Center and School, 1701 5th St. NE

All church and no play makes Jack a dull boy. And so I wasn’t entirely surprised to see a bunch of bars once I wrapped around the southwest corner of the neighborhood and started heading back north on 4th Street. This is one block off the main thoroughfare, University Avenue, and so provides a more pedestrian-friendly environment. In the space of a eight blocks, I passed Jimmy’sGrumpy’s, and NE Palace. Bill Lindeke, a connoisseur of dive bars, included the first and third of these on his Noteworthy Dive Bars of Inner Northeast Walking Tour and has gone beyond calling Jimmy’s “noteworthy” to write in City Pages that it “reigns supreme as a thriving dive on Fourth Street.”

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Jimmy’s Bar and Lounge, 1828 4th St. NE

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Grumpy’s Bar, 2200 4th St. NE

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NE Palace, 2500 4th St. NE

Once I finished 4th Street at 26th Avenue, I retreated to Lowry Avenue, which would be 25th Avenue if it were numbered. I walked it from University Avenue to 6th Street, where I turned south. As I turned, I saw an interesting pair of businesses straddling this intersection: Good Carma Auto Repair on the southeast corner and Carma Coffee on the the southwest corner. Heavy Table’s Amy Rea describes it as “possibly the first coffee shop ever opened by a car repair shop.”

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Carma Coffee, 520 Lowry Ave. NE

The street grid has a discontinuity at 22nd Avenue such that in order to continue south on 6th Street, I would have needed to go half a block eastward. However, my route called instead for taking this half-block stretch of 22nd Avenue as a forward-and-back spur, then following 22nd Avenue westward to University Avenue.

The spur between the two 6th Streets turned out to be especially interesting. First, as I looked south across 22nd Avenue from the northern part of 6th Street, I saw a pair of garage doors painted with hard-edged blocks of bright colors, made even more effective by their contrast with the otherwise much more sedate cluster of buildings.

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522 22nd Ave. NE

Then, across from the southbound part of 6th Street, I saw an otherwise unremarkable brick building made special by the faded sign on its front which bilingually declared it to have been the Polish National Catholic School. There was also a 1916 date stone, not shown here. Based on the building permit index card, the school (and parsonage) may only have lasted a few years, followed by a dizzying array of other uses: club, theatre, shop, factory, and then back to store, all by 1933.

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607 22nd Ave. NE

After passing Grumpy’s on 22nd Avenue I neared University Avenue and realized I had an embarrassment of riches available to me so far as lunch options. On the southeast corner, Hai Hai is known for its brunches, among other things. Just short of the northeast corner, Crepe and Spoon looked inviting. But ultimately I opted for the Bark and the Bite counter inside Sunny’s Market, which splits the building on the northeast corner with B & G Wine and Liquor. That choice was motivated by Mecca Bos’s reviews in City Pages and Heavy Table. The juicy pulled pork didn’t really need sauce, though they offer a range of options. I liked both the Bark sauce (whole grain mustard and brown sugar, but not too sweet) and the Vodka Chile sauce (as they say, a nice midwest spicy burn—medium). Meanwhile, the wings had been given a good dousing of a spicy dry rub after they were fried.

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Hai Hai, 2121 University Ave. NE (from 22nd Ave. NE)

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Crepe and Spoon, 339 22nd Ave. NE

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Bark and the Bite, Sunny’s Market, and B&G Liquors Share 2201–2207 University Ave. NE

After lunch, I headed back eastward on 23rd Avenue to its tee intersection with Washington Street, then shifted south to 22nd Avenue (with a couple extra spurs) before continuing further east. At the corner of Washington and 22nd, I was startled by a fire truck that went by honking its horn. You’d have to zoom in on the photo to see what was so startling: the back of the fire truck was occupied by a bunch of civilians, children and adults, taking a joy ride. This made much more sense after I followed the truck under the railroad tracks and found it parked outside the Firefighters Hall & Museum.

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Fire Truck at Washington St. NE and 22nd Ave. NE

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Firefighters Hall & Museum, 664 22nd Ave. NE

At this point, the route map shows some relatively complex zigs and zags, but the most notable part is that I walked between Thomas Edison High Schooland its athletic complex. So far as the school building goes, it was interesting to compare the northwest and southwest corners. The latter is clearly a newer addition, distinguished in part by the plainer, lighter-colored string courses (horizontal bands). Yet it is very carefully harmonized and includes an ornamental nameplate matching the one on the northwest—presumably relocated from the prior southern wall of the building.

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Northwest Corner of Edison High, 22nd Ave. NE & Monroe St. NE

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Edison Green Campus Display on West Side of Monroe St. NE

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Southwest Corner of Edison High, 20th Ave. NE & Monroe St. NE

After walking all four sides of the block south of the school, I continued west on 19th Avenue all the way to University, then came back on 20th to where it turns the corner south into Jefferson Street, which I continued along (as a spur) as far as 19th. That 1900 block of Jefferson Street is particularly interesting because it includes a very traditional factory building that was part of the former Carter-Day site, which fronts onto 19th Avenue with a newer building. Although the vertical surfaces in the middle of the roof are now boarded up, they must have been “lantern” windows to provide natural light and convective ventilation.

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Jefferson St. NE Portion of 655 19th Ave. NE Site

Backtracking to Washington Street, I made one last loop south to 17th Avenue and then back north on 6th and 7th Streets to 24th Avenue, with a dead-end spur beyond it. Using 24th Avenue I returned to University Avenue and was in the home stretch.

Finally I walked the other two sides of the demolition site I had spotted at the start of the walk. On a Saturday, no work was in progress, but I could image the pile of debris growing as the former Wheeling Corrugating Company building shrunk. I was particular taken by the south view of the building, where at least two generations of signage are partially exposed. The underneath one looks like it might be from the 1970s and identifies the company as part of the Wheeling-Pittsburg Steel Corporation with that corporation’s trademark of an orange pentagon topping a black partial circle. The outer signage has a more contemporary style with an expanded blue W evocative of corrugated steel. I don’t know where corrugated culverts will come from now, but this block is slated to be the Public Works department’s new East Side Storage and Maintenance Facility.

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Demolition Waste, Former Wheeling Corrugating Site, 340 27th Ave. NE

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Partially Demolished Wheeling Corrugating Building, 340 27th Ave. NE

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 April 25, 2018. We’re sharing them here at streets.mn.

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