Tacos and kielbasa, 19th- and 21st-century buildings, ski fencing and an apple-bearing cross: All of these accented a sunny and mild meander through northeast Minneapolis’ Logan Park neighborhood.
The neighborhood is bounded on the north by 19th Avenue and on the south by Broadway. From east to west it extends from Central Avenue to Washington Street, with Monroe Street as the center line. As the route map shows, I chose to leave for a second day everything east of that line and south of 18th Avenue. Red lines indicate forward-and-back spurs off of the main loop. All street and avenue names in this area are designated NE; for brevity, I’ll leave the directional designation off aside from in captions.
Together with a couple of companions, I initially headed north on Central Avenue from its intersection with 18th Avenue. The northwestern corner of that intersection stands out because of its recently refreshed facade, which adds considerable visual “pop” to an older building.
Musing on this idea of how important the trimmings can be, I made it only a couple of buildings farther before seeing another example. If the concrete-block car wash didn’t have the awning, I would have passed it by without a second glance.
After the car wash, we walked a temporary spur northward from 18½ to 19th Avenue before returning to turn west on 18½. Such doubly walked blocks are the necessary price for walking each block at least once. Beyond that general truth, each block yields its own dividends. In this case, those dividends included a yummy taco at Maya Cuisine and a view of the Central Avenue Apartments, “sober, supportive, permanent … housing” for “economically disadvantaged single men and women living with a disability.”
Within the first block of 18½ Avenue, we saw examples of how broadly the housing stock spans a range of ages. On the south side of the avenue, one of the houses stood out because of its unusual tower. Aside from this detail, it is similar to many others we saw in being 2.5 stories in height. They may have begun as single-family homes and later been subdivided; this one is presently a duplex. Its first building permit record is for gas lighting in 1908; the lack of a permit for the original construction suggests a date prior to 1884. Meanwhile on the north side, Artspace Jackson Flats (“a 35-unit affordable rental housing project for artists and their families”) dates only from 2013.
In the 19th century the neighborhood included a substantial industrial component, and it is easy to imagine residents walking from their homes to their workplaces. Today many of the industrial buildings have been converted to additional housing and to artists’ studios, again providing a mixture of residences and workplaces. Some remnant of industry persists, however. We saw our first examples at the western end of 18½ Avenue, where it reaches Monroe Street. The southeastern corner of that intersection holds a concrete and masonry contractor, and the west side has an asphalt paving contractor. Each is visually distinctive: the former for its mural and the latter for its ski-encrusted fence, which reflects how the co-owners spend the off season.
After passing under the railroad tracks on 19th Avenue, we passed another industrial site (a manufacturer of wiring harnesses) and another eye-catching mural — this one a depiction of two owls by the Broken Crow collaboration of Mike Fitzsimmons and John Grider on the facade of Salon Stella. I gratefully acknowledge the artists’ permission to reproduce their work.
Turning south on Washington Street, we soon passed a city public works garage and the unusually angled intersection with 18th Avenue and Adams Street (both of which we later returned to), followed by the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority’s Holland Highrise, a senior-designated, 17-story, 182-apartment building from 1970.
Turning east on 17th Avenue, we passed the Compassionate Ocean Zen Center and ran smack into the Casket Arts Building at Jefferson Street, where the avenue takes a small jog to the south. I take this to be an arts building named Casket for its former occupant, not a building where casket arts are practiced. On the other hand, the artisans of The Northwestern Casket Company who formerly did woodworking, finishing, fabric lining, etc. here could be said to have practiced the casket arts.
The dead-end 1700 block of Madison Street leads past the back of the Casket Arts Building to the affiliated “Carriage House,” which based on the ghost sign on its side was home to Western Mineral Products, makers of Zonolite insulation, which they produced here from 1938 to 1989 by processing vermiculite ore. Together with concrete block additions from 1954 and 1958 it also helps demarcate a courtyard area where sculpture is displayed, part of the NE Sculpture Gallery Factory. Works currently on display included ones by Peter Martin Morales, Ben Janssens and James Brenner, Alan Slacter, Zoran Mojsilov and Amy Toscani.
South of 17th Avenue, Madison Street passes through a lower-density residential area where we admired the gardens and the decorative detailing of some of the houses, as well as noting several church buildings. At one of the churches, Elim Church, the plaza on the Madison Street side was highlighted by a cross brightly painted with an apple-tree theme. This painting by Kari Nelson turns out to be the product of an event shortly before our walk.
At this point in our exploration, we walked the entire perimeter of the actual Logan Park, namesake of the neighborhood. (We also strayed two blocks farther west on 13th and one block farther west on Broadway.) Historically, this park is distinguished by being one of the first three in the city and an early “center of recreation programming in the city … a dramatic change in city parks … from passive to active recreational use.” Today it seems much like many other city parks — a reminder that dramatic innovations can become the new norm once widely enough adopted. (The quote is from David C. Smith’s official history on the park’s web page.)
This circumnavigation of the park also got us started on a northward traversal of Jefferson Street. As on Madison, the southern blocks are residential in character. That changed, however, once we passed the Casket Arts complex. In the 1800 block, the entire east side of the street is occupied by the Electramatic wiring harness plant that we saw earlier from 19th Avenue. The west side has a city equipment storage lot associated with the garage we saw on Washington Street and then the MPLS Photo Center in a 1925 brick building that turns out to have been an earlier city facility. Looking at this warm brick facade, I was startled to realize that Salon Stella’s concrete-block facade on 19th — rather austere, were it not for the mural — is just a more recent addition to the same building, dating from 1951.
From this corner with 19th Avenue, we retreated southward on Jefferson Street to 18th Avenue, where we turned west. This brought us along the southern boundary of the city lot, where through the fence a variety of equipment was visible, none more startling than three burned-out plow trucks standing side by side.
The western end of this segment of 18th Avenue is at Washington Street, which we previously had walked. However, we didn’t need to retrace our steps because we were able to take a hairpin turn onto Adams Street, which subsequently bent into its more normal north-south orientation. The acute triangle is occupied by Living Hope Ministries. In the broader rear of the building we also spotted a sign for Designed Image Screen Printing, which led me to guess that a previously commercial building was still being occupied by a commercial tenant as well as the ministry. However, as the previous link reveals, the screen-printing shop is actually a non-profit component of Living Hope that “seeks to provide employment and job training.”
Walking south on Adams and then back north on Washington, we passed more houses and gardens before arriving at our lunch spot, Sikora’s Polish Market and Deli, where I enjoyed a richly smoked sausage with some crisp kraut. The market has far more to offer than this. You can get some sense from two profiles published in 2014: one by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl in Mpls St Paul and the other by Carstens Smith in Heavy Table. But your best bet is to check it out in person. I’ve already promised to return with my Less Pedestrian Half and a cooler.
Closer inspection of the Little Free Library and Free Pantry revealed something interesting. The little library was built first, supported on the top of a post. Then the little pantry subsequently was built around the post. Whoever did this was quite handy.
Meandering back to our starting point at 18th and Central avenues, the most interesting sight was on the last couple blocks of 18th Avenue, where one wing of the Thorp Building came into view. Most of this building lies within the second day’s route. However, even this first view is worthwhile for the factory architecture, which maximizes windows both through the elongated shape and the raised “monitor” along the ridge. Tenants on this side include Cargo Studios, SEIU Local 26, Strike Theater, Minneapolis Television Network and D&B Custom Woods.
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 15, 2019. We’re sharing them here at streets.mn.