Early 20th-century industrial buildings, a convivial neighborhood bar, creekside trails, and a West-Indian grocery were some of the highlights when I returned to the Lind-Bohanon neighborhood for the third and final segment. As on my second visit, I was fortunate enough to catch one of those gloriously blue-skied days that happen with some regularity in winter; only my first visit had been overcast.
Starting at the intersection of 48th and Humboldt Avenues North, I initially headed north to 49th Avenue, then turned around and followed Humboldt south to where the Canadian Pacific railroad forms the southern boundary of the neighborhood. This portion of Humboldt is the border between the Lind-Bohanon neighborhood and the Humboldt Industrial area. As such, I had already walked it once before. However, that time I focused on the west side of the avenue, whereas this time I focused on the quite different east side.
The 4800 block and most of the 4700 block are lined with four-unit townhouses from an early phase of the Humboldt Greenway project. In the photo below, only three of the units in each building are visible because the leftmost unit is set back further from the street. Like the two units forming a mirror-image pair in the middle, it is two stories in height. By contrast, the rightmost unit is only a single story. So as one walks down the avenue, the different unit styles within each building form a syncopated rhythm: back-forward-forward-down, back-forward-forward-down.
After crossing Shingle Creek, I came to Fire Station 20. Buildings of any kind generally cary the distinctive look of the decade in which they were built, but that may be especially true of schools and fire stations, which were often built in waves. Fire Station 20 belongs to the early 1960s wave, and as such is rather similar to Fire Station 16, which I saw in the Harrison neighborhood, as well as several other stations that I’ve seen in neighborhoods that still lie in the future for All of Minneapolis’s alphabetical progression.
South of the fire station, two apartment buildings managed by CommonBond Communities stand on opposite sides of a path leading to the creek. Kingsley Commons was specifically designed to accommodate persons with multiple sclerosis, while Shingle Creek Commons provides housing for those 55 and older.
At the creek, the main path continues over a wooden bridge to join up with a bicycle and pedestrian trail that parallels Shingle Creek Drive. Because I would be walking that street later in the route, I opted to instead turn south before the bridge. That put me on a more rustic path leading to 45th Avenue through a small wooded area between the creek and railroad tracks.
Just to the east of the intersection of 45th Avenue and Shingle Creek Drive, I turned north on Colfax Avenue, the start of a serpentine that also included Dupont, Emerson, and Fremont Avenues as I alternately went northward to 47th Avenue and southward to Shingle Creek Drive. This took me through an older residential area, though the houses vary with regard to just how old they are. A scattered few date from the 19th-century pioneering days, such as the one from 1893 on the northeast corner of 46th and Colfax, shown in the next photo. It may have originally been a single-family dwelling, but the building permit index shows it was a duplex by 1946. (The index also shows that the small addition on the back is from 1918.)
Even the single-story houses from the 20th century come from different decades. The next two photos show two houses on the west side of Dupont Avenue, one from 1923 and the other from 1950.
Because Shingle Creek Drive is oriented to the creek rather than the street grid, it forms triangles as it intersects the north-south and east-west avenues.
At the northwestern end of Shingle Creek Drive, I paused at Humboldt Avenue before turning back southeast to resume the main route on 46th Avenue. The northeast corner of Shingle Creek Drive and Humboldt Avenue is just south of the 21st-century townhomes, but it retains an older structure, an eight-unit apartment building from 1961 that glowed in the morning light, forming a contrast to the shadows of trees.
Although I generally followed 46th Avenue all the way east to Lyndale, I skipped over the block from Bryant to Aldrich. Instead, I turned north on Bryant to 49th Avenue, then returned south on Aldrich. This led past some energy-conscious homes that had recently been built on those two avenues. Some more tree shadows were a bonus.
The northwest corner of 46th and Lyndale Avenues north is home to an architecturally unusual building consisting of a narrow two-story portion along 46th and a broader single-story portion continuing the rest of the way along Lyndale. On the main Lyndale Avenue facade, the upper story is windowless and consequently looks more like an extension of the ground floor. One would have to strip away all the modern siding and restore the missing windows for the building’s shape to make more sense. Luckily, the Minnesota Historical Society has effectively done that by preserving a photo from circa 1915–1916 of what was then the Hansen Grocery Company.
As the signs in the photos indicate, this corner building now houses the Camden Tavern & Grill, which happened to be my lunch stop. Although there have been a few changes in ownership and name, there’s been a restaurant and bar here since 1933, the year prohibition ended. Unsurprisingly, it has become an important neighborhood institution. Their web site describes it as “a casual, friendly neighborhood bar in North Minneapolis with a great selection of beer, cocktails, and food, including daily ‘home cooked’ classic specials.” That corresponds well to what I experienced on my visit. The convivial atmosphere came not just from the cranked-up music but from the regular customers occupying many of the seats at the bar and tables. (I overheard one say, “It’s like family here.”) The bartender—who seemingly everyone else knew as Al—asked for my order. Glancing at the tap handles and the specials board, I selected a Summit EPA and a Philly steak with fries, minus the cheese.
I saw a couple other food orders go out, and several bloodies—this was noon on a Saturday. But a lot of the customers had made the classic choice of beer and a bump. That included the group to my right at the bar, one of whom introduced herself to me as Terri. (I didn’t think to ask for the spelling, so my apologies if this is wrong.) She was interested in the sweater I was wearing, a family heirloom. But she was also interested in greeting an outsider. So to Terri and Al, thanks for welcoming me. I can see why people keep coming back.
South of 46th Avenue, the sign on Guy-Am West Indian Grocery displays the colors of the flag of Guyana. Beyond offering shipping, auto service, and rentals, the store is stocked with quite an assortment of food and non-food items. Reflecting the ethnic makeup of Guyana and Trinidad, many of the items had an East Indian as well as West Indian background. Keeping in mind the limited space in my jacket pockets, I selected a spicy tamarind candy for my Less Pedestrian Half and a small bag of pigeon peas for myself.
My southward walk on Lyndale crossed Shingle Creek just north of the railroad’s Humboldt East junction, which would mark my about-face point before returning to 44th Avenue. From the Lyndale Avenue bridge over the creek I was able to see two others—a wooden footbridge and behind it, at the top of my photo, the railroad bridge. The footbridge is at a lower level because this is just downstream from the falls that were created in order to lower the creek for passage under I-94.
Turning west on 44th Avenue North took me between two recycling facilities. The southwest corner of 44th and Lyndale has Republic Services’ Material Recovery Facility, a modern structure, while the northwest corner has Atomic Recycling’s site, a reuse of the historic Mereen Johnson Machine Company factory. The original 1916 portion of the factory parallels 44th Avenue close to Aldrich Avenue, then angles away from 44th along what had been a railroad spur. A newer portion is visible to the north on Aldrich.
I didn’t photograph the Mereen Johnson office building at the northwest corner of 44th and Lyndale, but I was able to good shot of another even older industrial office building two blocks further west, where 44th curves into Bryant. The former Kinnard-Haines Press Company office building is now a residence, but the word “Office” is still visible in stained glass over the front door. The city’s landmark page dates it to 1902 and attributes it to the architect Adam Lansing Dorr. His other works include the Ogden Apartments, which I noted when walking Downtown West. I’m also looking forward to the 15th Street rowhouses in the Loring Park neighborhood.
A little looping around via Aldrich, 46th, Bryant, and 45th brought me to the corner of 45th and Camden, where I was ready to head north for four blocks. First, though, I had a spur east on 45th to revisit Lyndale Avenue where a Tesoro gas station and a McDonald’s restaurant stand on opposite corers.
Once I reached 49th Avenue on Camden, I returned a block south to 48th Avenue on 6th Street. That positioned me for an essentially straight shot west on 48th Avenue back to my starting point on Humboldt. The one exception is that I dipped down to 47th between Fremont and Girard Avenues, continuing also on 47th as a spur beyond Girard to Humboldt.
This detour bore quite a bit of fruit. In the 4700 block of Fremont, I saw a Little Free Library with roof and sides made from twin-wall polycarbonate, a common greenhouse material. And to complete the greenhouse theme, a potting trowel was attached to the door as a handle. A block west of there, the 4700 block of Girard offered some classic homes from the 1920s, including one with the jerkinhead roof common at that time and another distinguished by a small entry turret.
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 January 11, 2019. We’re sharing them here at streets.mn.
Thank you for another observation story about a place in Minneapolis that has bits and pieces that can be as informing as architecture about what gives micro-areas nice “look-at-me’s”
You’re welcome. I’m enjoying myself.
Max, I love your walks and I’m impressed that you do them in all kinds of weather. Your dedication to this cool project is impressive.
Thanks for your support. As you know, I’m a huge fan of your project as well. I’m glad you aren’t correct about “all kinds of weather,” but I do wish I were less booked up on beautiful days like todays, so that I could seize more opportunities for the All of Minneapolis project.