The Lind-Bohanon neighborhood is among the most northerly in Minneapolis and lies between Humboldt Avenue North and the Mississippi River, except that south of 48th Avenue North, it only extends as far east as Lyndale Avenue North. (The remaining strip between Lyndale and the river is part of the Camden Industrial Area.) On the route map, the light blue tint shows the full extent of the neighborhood, while the colored lines indicate my route for the first day, which concentrated on the northern portion. The blue line is the main loop from the intersection of 53rd and Fremont Avenues North back to that point, whereas the red lines indicate forward-and-back spurs.
Although this area was annexed into the City of Minneapolis in 1887, much of the residential development post-dates World War II. At some level this simply reflects the remoteness of the area. However, a related secondary factor is that much of the land was occupied by a large city-owned site that included a workhouse, tuberculosis hospital, and garbage burner.
Heading south on Fremont Avenue North, I first saw the area’s typical style, circa 1950, in the modest houses of the 5200 block. In the next block to the south, the Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church complex provides some more eye-catching examples of the period with the church itself and an associated school and convent. (At the end of the walk I saw the rectory on Emerson Avenue North.)
As I was about to turn back northward from 51st Avenue onto Girard Avenue, I looked to the southwest and caught my first glimpse of a recently redeveloped area, Parkside at Humboldt Greenway, which I’ll see more closely when I return to the area.
In the 5200 block of Girard, a two-story duplex from 1924 stands as a reminder that this area was not completely undeveloped prior to the post-war housing boom. However, the 1.2-story single-family home to its left, dating from 1959, is more typical.
After wrapping around through the 5200 block of Humboldt Avenue North (another part of the overall Humboldt Greenway project), I turned eastward on 52nd Avenue North, taking it nearly all the way across the neighborhood. Among the more interesting sights along the way were Hope Lutheran Church between Emerson and Dupont Avenues North, an office building and corner store at Bryant Avenue North, and George Hill–Alice Rainville (GHAR) Square to the southeast of the intersection with 6th Street North.
The commercial node at Bryant Avenue reflects the former status of that intersection as the northern terminus of a streetcar line, while the GHAR Square is a final remnant of the formerly much larger city-owned property, spruced up by the neighborhood association in the 1990s. (George Hill was a heavily-involved member of that association and Alice Rainville was a city council member.) The remnant in question housed a brickyard. Other portions of the city-owned property were sold off and developed at differing times, which is apparent in the current streetscapes.
Of the preceding two 4900 blocks, the older-looking one lies across Bryant Avenue North from Bohanon Park. If I’m mentally alining the current and historical maps correctly, the park shelter is near the location of the old garbage “crematory.”
After I returned from the park to 6th Street North, I walked around a less drastically evolved portion of the former city property. The northeast corner of 6th Street and 49th Avenue North now holds the Victory Health + Rehabilitation Center, but that facility can be traced back to the original 1911 Hopewell Hospital via several changes of name, ownership, and (in 1990) one change of physical structure. (Most of these changes are illustrated in Mike Fahey, Kenny Fosberg, and Amy Luesebrink’s book, The Mississippi Courts and the Communities Surrounding Them: 1949–2009.) Immediately to the east, Camden House provides assisted living services.
After crossing Interstate 94, I could see another even more ghostly trace of the vanished twentieth century: the site of the former Mississippi Courts housing project, extending north of 49th Avenue North along the river. Built in 1948 and 1949 on former brickyard land, it was torn down in 1986, freeing up what is now part of the North Mississippi Regional Park. The whole story is told in the previously cited book.
I had already visited the portion of the park south of 49th Avenue when I toured the Camden Industrial Area, but the Carl W. Kroening Interpretive Center is actually in the Lind-Bohanon neighborhood, so I paid it another visit. The interior has such an interesting mix of information about the natural environment and the historical (largely industrial) development of the land that it merits repeated attention.
Continuing north toward 53rd Street, I initially followed Lyndale Avenue North, which hugs the freeway on the west side of the sound wall. Only once I reached the turn-off onto North Mississippi Drive did I cross to the east side of the wall, where the park is. If I hadn’t been so insistent on walking every pedestrian-accessible block of every street, I would simply have taken one of the park trails shown in the earlier photo of the former Mississippi Courts. However, even a freeway frontage road has its charms. Indeed, I humbly submit that the following photo of the sound wall is the most visually interesting of the whole walk.
The portion of the park leading up to 53rd Avenue North contains a few picnic shelters and a trail along the river bluff. That trail must be right about where in the mid 20th century a green fence constructed from two-by-fours was supposed to protect the children of the Mississippi Courts. They responded by walking along the top of it. (The Mississippi Courts and the Communities Surrounding Them, p. 82.)
After crossing back over the freeway, I returned to the northern edge of GHAR Square. Standing at the northeastern corner and looking southward along the western edge, I was interested to see that instead of a sound wall, it is buffered by the combination of a raised berm and a couple dense rows of evergreen trees.
Returning northward on 4th Street North—the start of a serpentine back and forth between 53rd and 51st Avenues North—I got another view of just what a transitional decade the 1950s was in US housing styles. The very plain 1.2-story house at the left of the photo (essentially a simplified Cape Cod style) is typical of the GI Bill era, whereas the rambler occupying the main part of the photo, a mere six years later, is a harbinger of what would come in the late 1950s and 1960s. Note in particular how many kinds of exterior surface it combines, including the small tiles surrounding the front door.
After a few zigs and zags through the serpentine path, I arrived at the Jenny Lind Elementary School, immediately north of Bohanon Park.
As I continued this serpentine, the northern edge along 53rd Avenue North gave me less to see than it might have because only one side of it is in the neighborhood (indeed, in the city) and the houses generally face sideways to it, leaving a view predominantly of alleyway garages. Yet all was not lost. A homeowner brightened a rather grey day by choosing saturated colors for a few garage door panels.
Finally, as I neared my starting point, I was able to complete my view of the Our Lady of Victory complex. The rectory is almost a normal house, aside from being physically connected to the church by a covered walkway. The somewhat unusual proportions may reflect a combination of living and office spaces. But there’s another sign of the building’s role: do you see the sotto voce cross in the brickwork?
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 December 13, 2018. We’re sharing them here at streets.mn.
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