Walking All the Streets of West-Central Linden Hills

The Linden Hills neighborhood’s residential and retail development has been influenced by everything from the early-20th-century trolley to the latest fashions. And all of that was evident to one degree or another as I walked the west-central portion of the neighborhood. The map shows the route’s main loop in blue, starting and ending at the intersection of 39th Street West and Zenith Avenue South. The red lines indicate forward-and back spurs off of this main loop.

When I chose the starting point, I took into consideration bus accessibility and how far I wanted to walk before stopping for a snack. However, a shady bench on the corner also made it the perfect spot to wait for my companions.

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Southwest Corner of 39th St. W. and Zenith Ave. S.

A block west of there, we turned south on Abbott Avenue and immediately saw an example of how newer single-family houses are continuing to be added to the mix of older styles. I was interested to see a similar charcoal grey used on both the two-story modern house and 1950s hip-roofed rambler across from it.

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3901 Abbott Ave. S. (2014)

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3920 Abbott Ave. S. (1957)

In the next block to the south, one of the houses stood out for the street number and chalkboard that accent its landscaping, while another caught my eye as a second example of a converted garage. (The first example was on my previous walk.)

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Street Number, 4007 Abbott Ave. S.

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Chalkboard Rumi, 4007 Abbott Ave. S.

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4025 Abbott Ave. S. (1940 and 2015)

Turning east for a block on 44th Street provided a first glimpse of the area’s retail component. Although this street gained its prominence thanks to the trolley line that ran near it, as luck would have it we first came across an automotive shop. The building is from 1951, the current business from 1970. However, immediately to the east of it is a 1923 strip of retail shops, not pictured.

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Dunrite Automotive, 3322 44th St. W.

Turning north on Zenith Avenue brought us to Linden Hills Park, where we walked the western edge and the western half of the southern edge as two spurs. The first of these passed next to the tennis courts, complete with appropriate bike rack[et]s, while the second ended at the swimming pool, where a pair of humans armed with mesh leaf rakes were balanced out by a pair of ducks.

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Tennis Racket Bike Racks, Linden Hills Park, 4200 Block of Zenith Ave. S.

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Pool Cleaners and Ducks, Linden Hills Park, 43rd St. W. at York Ave. S.

To the west of the park, 43rd Street took us through a residential area until it ended at Chowen Avenue. The northeast corner of that intersection is home to the True Apostolic Assembly Church, occupying a building constructed in 1950 for the City of Lakes Gospel Tabernacle. The lancet windows divided into colored blocks provide a modern variation on a gothic theme.

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True Apostolic Assembly Church, 3520 43rd St. W.

This western terminus of 43rd Street lies in the roughly 150-foot interval between two intersections of the nominally parallel Chowen and Drew Avenues. This particular deviation from Euclidean geometry appears to be the result of Waveland Triangle’s gravitational field, which warps the street grid in the surrounding Waveland Park Addition. This warped space bends Chowen Avenue to the degree that it temporarily coincides with Drew.

We initially walked the short distance north to the northern of these two intersections, then turned south on Chowen as far as 44th Street. One of the more interesting sights along the way was a two-story duplex from 1955 that has been given a recent facelift. The result is a facade that gains interest from its hybridization of elements characteristic of the 1950s and 2010s.

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4319–4321 Chowen Ave. S. (1955)

Once at 44th Street, it was time to retreat again, saving this main thoroughfare for later in the route. However, we only had to backtrack about 100 feet on Chowen Avenue to Motor Place, a one-block connection between Beard and Chowen Avenues that made perfect sense when the Motor Line ran past here. Walking this spur allowed us to admire a Queen Anne revival house from 1912, when development in this area was just taking off.

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3514 Motor Pl. (1912)

Turning back to the west, once we crossed Chowen Avenue we took a slight northward bend as we transitioned onto Glendale Terrace, née 43½ Street. Comparing the 1914 and 1940 maps reachable through the previous two links, you can see what an improvement resulted from extending Waveland Triangle further south.

Most of the buildings along Glendale Terrace between Drew and France Avenues are single-family homes from the 1910s and 1920s. I photographed a bungalow that caught my eye for the way it nestles behind vegetation, but it also turns out to be a nice contrast with the preceding purple Queen Anne house, built in the same year (1912).

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3717 Glendale Terr. (1912)

Having said that most of the buildings on this block are single-family homes, I was particularly interested in an exception. Just short of the corner with France Avenue, a six-unit condo building was constructed in 1931 as “flats”. In many ways it is typical of the apartment buildings from the 1920s, wood-frame structures of two stories plus a garden level that were sheathed with decorative brick veneer. This one is unusual not only for its location but also for its late date (after the Great Depression was underway) and its particular decorative theme, which fits the zigzag deco style. I regret that the photo doesn’t do a good job of showing the triangular leading of the upper window in the central stairway.

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3815 Glendale Terr. (6 Unit Condo, 1931)

Wrapping around via France Avenue to Colgate Avenue, we revisited Waveland Triangle on its one remaining side, Drew Avenue, and then followed this avenue south to 46th Street before using Chowen Avenue to return north to 44th. Along the way we saw some more retail development (on 44th) as well as a mix of single-family homes, duplexes, larger apartment buildings, and townhouses.

For me, the most interesting housing was on the westward spur on 44th Street. To the west of Drew Avenue, beyond an early childhood center, is a building constructed in the townhouse style but held under unified ownership and rented out as apartments. (An example of true townhouses—separately owned attached structures—is east of Drew Avenue.) Constructed in 2006, this building is cited by the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority as “a prototype example” of what they are striving for in their scattered site program: “a small cluster of family housing.”

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3816 44th St. W. (2006)

Heading east on 44th Street beyond Chowen Avenue to Beard, I stopped in at Penny’s Coffee for a morning snack. The building’s history as an automotive service garage explains an interior pit that allowed me to simultaneously photograph the lower level and a portion of the upper level, complete with an anonymous customer’s mid-section. (Sorry, anonymous customer.)

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Two-Level Interior, Penny’s Coffee, 3509 44th St. W.

This being a Thursday, my favorite treat was unavailable—the tahini babka is only served Friday through Sunday. Settling for the turmeric honey twist was no great sacrifice, though. For anyone who, like me, has an unhealthy attraction to kouign amann, this is a lively twist (sorry) on the same theme of caramelized laminated dough. And, Dear Reader, if you don’t have an unhealthy attraction to kouign amann, you’ve either never had one or I simply can’t understand you. My empathy has limits.

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Turmeric Honey Twist at Penny’s Coffee

Stepping back out to resume my walk, I could see how the coffee shop’s exterior also reflects its history as a garage. The date of construction, 1914, positions it comparatively early in automotive history, during the Model T era. At that time, most commuters living in this area would have relied exclusively on the streetcar and walking, with only the most enthusiastic early adopters taking on this cutting-edge technology. (Only about 200,000 Model Ts were produced by Ford that year, a figure that rose nearly tenfold in the following decade.) In that context, I was interested to see the 1915 city directory listed the business as the Goodrich & Anderson Garage, operated by Calvin D. Goodrich and Burt Anderson. Why is this interesting? Because Calvin G. Goodrich, Jr., and his son Donald Goodrich were leading figures in the Twin Cities Rapid Transit Company. I’m not positive that these were the grandfather and father of Calvin D., but I suspect it: at any rate, Donald had a son named Calvin. If Calvin D. was indeed the scion of the streetcar dynasty, I wonder how his automotive venture was viewed by his elders. Did they see him as a wild youth who would come to his senses as he matured? Or could they imagine that he might be onto something that would bury their empire?

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Penny’s Coffee, 3509 44th St. W. (1914)

Leaving the retail corridor behind, I headed north on Beard Avenue, ultimately going as far as 39th Street, though I detoured off onto a loop formed by 40th and 41st Streets and York and France Avenues. This loop was noteworthy for its steep terrain as well as for the sights along the way.

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Steep Terrain: Looking West down 41st St. W. from Beard Ave. S.

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Boulevard Garden with Gnomes, 3200 Block of 40th St. W.

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Utility Pedestal Gnome, 3200 Block of 40th St. W.

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Lake Harriet Community School Lower Campus, 41st St. W. and Chowen Ave. S.

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Lilac, 3702 40th St. W.

After finishing this loop through 40th and 41st Streets, I finished off the northward walk on Beard Avenue and then turned back south on Chowen Avenue. This was the start of a westward progression—north on Beard, south on Chowen, north on Drew, south on Ewing. Each avenue had its own points of interest, but the two highlights I particularly chose to memorialize were both on Chowen. First, a corner property stood out for its lush landscaping. Next, I spotted another interesting style of duplex, this one an H-shaped split-level from 1962 with tuck-under garages on each end.

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4001 Chowen Ave. S. (1926)

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4109–4113 Chowen Ave. S. (1962)

Once this westward serpentine was complete, I returned to Linden Hills Park on 42nd Street and then closed up my loop by taking Zenith Avenue back to 39th Street. Just about a block from completion I encountered one final highlight—a little library decorated outside and in. The generous resident I spoke with explained that it was her particular desire to serve children, as she sees mostly adult books in other little libraries.

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Little Library, 4007 Zenith Ave. S.

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Interior of Little Library, 4007 Zenith Ave. S.

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 June 10, 2019. We’re sharing them here at streets.mn.

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