Cheerier weather, a broader age range of development, and the inclusion of a commercial area differentiated this second visit to the Lind-Bohanon neighborhood from the prior, more northerly walk. Although this walk’s area overlaps with both that prior walk and the one yet to come, it avoids both the most northern and the most southern portions of the neighborhood, as shown on the route map. The light blue shading is the neighborhood, the blue line is the main loop, and the red lines are spurs off of it.
Starting on Humboldt Avenue North, I headed north into the 5100 block for an initial spur before turning back south. This block was developed early in the Humboldt Greenway project, prior to the recession-triggered hiatus. In particular, the single-family detached houses in the photo date from 2002 and 2003.
To see the more recently developed portion of the Greenway housing, I needed to head south and bow eastward along Humboldt Lane. (The border between the Lind-Bohanon and Shingle Creek neighborhoods runs due north–south on what would have been the Humboldt Avenue alignment, but Humboldt Avenue itself bows somewhat to the west between 51st and 49th Avenues, placing it within Shingle Creek.) The single-family detached houses in the following photo are from 2015–2017.
Heading east on 49th Avenue North brought me back into the early 1950s housing that had dominated my previous walk. Of course, every house is a bit different from its neighbors and the decorations can accentuate these differences. I saw a clear example once I turned north on Dupont Avenue North along the western edge of Bohanon Park.
The portion of 50th Avenue between Dupont and Humboldt Avenues is an additional part of the Greenway project. I walked it as a long spur, but the most telling photo is the one I took while still on Dupont; it shows how the eastward progress of development is nearing its culmination. The most recently built houses are still being finished up and then there is one more block of vacant lots between Emerson and Dupont—but that’s it.
My main loop took 50th Avenue the opposite (eastward) direction—or rather the footpath that substitutes for 50th between Dupont and Bryant Avenues, on the boundary between Bohanon Park and the Jenny Lind Elementary School property. First, though, I rounded the northwest corner of the school grounds on an additional spur up Dupont and east on 51st Avenue to Colfax. Seeing the grounds from these sides let me better appreciate the raised rental garden plots, which are framed in masonry rather than the more common wood.
Compared with the 21st-century Greenway area, the houses from the early 1950s have correspondingly more well established trees, both along the boulevard and in the yards. I paused in the 4900 block of Aldrich Avenue North to photograph one example. Not long after, I saw another similarly sized evergreen that was on the property line between two houses, rather than in the front yard of one. Its growth had brought it to the point of brushing against each of them in addition to extending over both.
On the prior walk, I noted that some of the area was newer than the dominant early 1950s period, presumably as a result of the progressive release of government-owned parcels for development. Some of the dividing lines are quite perceptible. For example, turning back northward on Camden Avenue from 49th, the east side of the street has single-family detached houses from the late 1970s while the west side has duplexes from the early 1960s.
Further east, 4th Street North is even divided into 1970s-style cul-de-sacs with circular ends, so that the period of the houses is matched by that of the streets. The rear of one of those circles is visible in the background behind the “Welcome to the Lind-Bohanon Neighborhood” sign on the northwest corner of 49th and West Lyndale Avenues North.
Continuing south on Lyndale beyond that sign, the opposite corner of 49th has a small vacant lot where a store was located for much of the 20th century. Mike Fahey—one of the first people to move into the Mississippi Courts housing project—wrote of seeing that store as the last outpost of civilization when he arrived heading north as a nine-year-old in February of 1949: “The last business on this short five block Lyndale business avenue was at the corner of 49th Ave N and Lyndale, a little corner store named ‘Jack’s,’ later ‘Galeno’s.’ From the outside it looked like a simple small white-sided corner house with a painted sign on the side. This was our last chance to stock up before continuing on our journey. Nothing much lay ahead but snow. From this seemingly edge of the world vantage point … we could see wide open fields … [and the] huge, vacant skeleton of the old City Workhouse and two-story Hopewell Hospital ….” (The Mississippi Courts and the Communities Surrounding Them: 1949–2009, pp. 47–48.)
The store may be gone, but immediately to the south of its former location are four houses that stand as a reminder of this area’s deeper history. The northernmost of them makes its first appearance in the Minneapolis building permit records in 1903, when Mrs. Ragnhild Christianson received a permit for an addition. A reasonable guess is that she was building onto a house that predated the 1887 annexation of this area into Minneapolis. The next house to the south is also of uncertain age; it was moved to this location from an unplatted site north of 49th Avenue in 1908, probably displaced by Hopewell Hospital, which opened that year. And then comes one (just visible in the photo) that was freshly built in 1902 and another (not shown) in 1909. Some of these may be the boarding houses Fahey mentions.
South of these houses, the west side of Lyndale Avenue transitions to commercial-style buildings, though one of them houses Alleluia Sanctuary Church rather than a commercial enterprise. A bit further south are three restaurants in a row: El Burrito Cubano, Dairy Queen, and FireBox Deli.
Of these, my choice of FireBox Deli for a lunch stop was foreordained—I’ve been waiting for this moment since I passed by on my Camden Industrial Area walk over two years ago and smelled the lovely sweet wood smoke. (South of 48th Avenue, Lyndale is the neighborhood boundary with the industrial area.) The food lived up to the aroma. I had the brisket, a mix of thick but tender slices cut from the the lean flat and fattier point muscles. I’ve done enough barbecue myself to know that brisket is the most challenging meat to get right. FireBox Deli gets it right. (By contrast, any fool can make good pulled pork. Even me.) Each table has a squirt bottle of a conventional barbecue sauce, but little take-out containers of “Mama’s Hot Pepper Paste” are also available—and well worth using. The brisket is plenty flavorful on its own, but the pepper paste augments that with a depth of flavor, not just heat. (Fermented? Umami?) It does have plenty of heat, though, so use it sparingly. The pepper paste, like the presence of sticky rice among the sides, may be a bonus from the owners’ heritage, which I gather is Hmong.
After lunch, the route resumed with a spur south into the 4600 block of Lyndale. The southern end of this block is the Camden Tavern & Grill, which I’m saving as a lunch spot for the next walk. The biggest novelty of this block is that it contains the two largest apartment buildings I saw anywhere in the neighborhood, one with 11 units and the other with 23. The latter is the Camden Apartments, built in 2006 and owned by Project for Pride in Living.
Returning to 47th Avenue North from this spur, I almost immediately took another spur around the back of the FireBox Deli’s block on 6th Street North and 48th Avenue North. This block of 6th Street has some of the early 1950s houses that are ubiquitous further north, but mixed in with them are a variety of houses from the 19-teens, 1920s, and 1930s—a reminder that the transitions between development periods don’t always fall along sharp dividing lines but rather can involve gradual infill. Take for example, the house in the center of the following photo, which is tucked between two houses from the early 1950s. It was extended into its front porch in the 1960s, but if you mentally back out from that modification, it’s easy to believe the original construction date of 1913.
After this spur, I headed west on 47th Avenue. My next walk will include the area south of this avenue, but already I could see that the buildings on that side generally appear older. One that puzzled me was on the southeast corner with Bryant Avenue. Or rather, not quite on the corner—that’s part of what was puzzling. It is set quite a bit further back from Bryant than the other houses are, so that its back is flush against the alley. It also has an unusual appearance. It turns out that the original structure on the corner was a greenhouse, and the florist, Paul B. Rieck, then added a dwelling behind it in 1930. Subsequently Louise Rieck demolished the greenhouse in 1945, leaving the dwelling behind with an extra-large front yard where the greenhouse had been.
The next corner to the west is home to Gethsemane Lutheran Church, which resulted from at least as interesting a succession of construction and demolition as the florist’s house. The main church building from 1927 is flanked by two different education wings, one from 1913 (on 47th, at the left of the photo) and one from 1959 (on Bryant, at the right of the photo). The relationship of the church to the older education wing makes more sense when one takes into account that the 1927 building replaced one from 1894 that was half the size.
This church stands at a turning point in the route. From here, rather than continuing straight west, I started serpentining north and south, continuing to make gradual westward progress back toward the starting point. The first swing north on Colfax only went as far as 49th Avenue, where Bohanon Park blocks further progress. Then I returned south to 47th Avenue on Dupont. As I crossed 48th, my eye was drawn to the building on the northwest corner, which clearly began life (in 1922) as a combination of a corner store and apartments.
I only went as far south as 48th Avenue on Fremont Avenue before turning back north one last time on Girard. Once I crossed 49th Avenue, this brought me back into the Humboldt Greenway development area. Previously I had only seen two-story single-family detached dwellings, but now I spotted a couple single-story houses and the one-and-a-fraction-story house shown in the first photo below, as well as two four-unit townhouses (collections of single-family attached dwellings) such as the one in the final photo.
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 17, 2018. We’re sharing them here at streets.mn.
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.