Only the northern tip of the Lowry Hill East neighborhood is east of Lowry Hill, which may explain why “The Wedge” is the more common name. Certainly it is more descriptive: the neighborhood occupies the wedge-shaped area between Hennepin and Lyndale Avenues north of Lake Street.
I began and ultimately ended at the point marked A and B on the route map, the intersection of Franklin Avenue West and Aldrich Avenue South. Heading initially north, Aldrich soon ended, cut short by the on-ramp to eastbound I-94 from northbound Hennepin Avenue. However, rather than truncating Aldrich Avenue with a dead-end, as they easily might have, the transportation planners connected it to the similarly truncated Bryant Avenue using a short diagonal segment parallel to the on-ramp. In the pre-interstate days, Aldrich continued almost twice as far, ending with a tee intersection at Lincoln Avenue, whereas Bryant Avenue only extended slightly further than now and connected to Hennepin.
Because the demolished rectangular buildings didn’t naturally conform to the diagonal truncation, a small area was freed up for a garden. The plaques for the Men’s Garden Club of Minneapolis Memorial Path serve as a reminder of that club’s role when the area was a fragrance garden.
The buildings on these short blocks of Aldrich and Bryant Avenues interested me too, but none so much as the 1908 apartment building in what had been the triangular area between Franklin, Bryant, and Hennepin Avenues. Currently addressed as 902 Franklin Avenue West, it historically had a dual identity as 1927 Hennepin Avenue South, and that more imposing end is shown in the photo.
Continuing south on Bryant beyond Franklin Avenue, I encountered a variety of multi-unit and single-unit dwellings. In the photos, the 14–unit building from 1959 is distinguished from others of similar vintage by a mural, while the three adjacent buildings from 1892 (all built by the same developer) have lots of distinguishing trim—even the two that are otherwise nearly identical. (Those two are currently single-family houses whereas the one with two dormers is currently a triplex, but such buildings get subdivided and then reassembled.)
The front garden of the most recently shown house participated in the Wedge Gnome Scavenger Hunt. Other highlights further south on Bryant Avenue were a Little Library made from a newspaper box, some boulevard cabbages, and a brightly floral door.
Nearing the Midtown Greenway, the character of the housing changes. On the west side of Bryant, there is first a collection of two-story townhouses, then a coordinated four-story building along the Greenway itself containing single-story condos. These are both portions of the Midtown Lofts, which the city planned as the first-phase of an Urban Village between Aldrich and Dupont Avenues. The actual development didn’t go quite as planned, but there are now similar apartment buildings along the north side of the Greenway even further, all the way from Aldrich to Girard Avenue. In particular, to return to this point of the walk, the east side of Bryant has Track 29 City Apartments, not shown.
On the south side of the Greenway, the character of Bryant Avenue changes yet again. Under the influence of Lake Street, a number of retail, service, and arts establishments mix in with the apartments. The three most visually striking components of this mix are the Soo Visual Arts Center (which I’ll show later when walking 29th Street), the Five Event Center (pictured here), and Kyle Holdridge’s Jimi Hendrix Mural (viewable via the link).
Arriving at Lake Street, I started with a one-block eastward spur to Aldrich before turning west. Three of the best-known establishments on the block between Aldrich and Bryant are all within the building on the corner with Bryant: the Bryant-Lake Bowl, Douglas Flanders & Associates (not easily visible in the photo), and Urban Bean Coffee.
To the west on Lake Street, I continued beyond Colfax Avenue in a spur as far as Emerson Avenue. The area between Colfax and Dupont is dominated by the Buzza Lofts of Uptown, a fascinating building but one I won’t show yet—I was better able to photograph it when I walked Dupont. And the area between Dupont and Emerson was a still inchoate construction site. So my next photo is from after I returned to Colfax and turned north.
After passing through the area near the Midtown Greenway, I was again confronted by older homes such as the one shown here—built in 1898, converted to a duplex in 1949, and subsequently reverted to a single unit. It stands out from others of the time period in part because of the use of stone in the lower level of the tower as well as the porch.
The northern half of the 2500 block between Colfax and Bryant Avenues is occupied by Mueller Park. By photographing it from this side, I was able to also include one of the courts painted onto the street for the 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament sponsored by the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association.
As with Bryant Avenue, Colfax has apartment buildings as well as houses. The 23-unit building kitty-corner from the park is a charming example of its 1930 vintage, but I’ll spare you the photos.
Rather than continuing on Colfax all the way to where it angles into Hennepin, I turned east on the last cross street, 22nd Street West, and followed that to Lyndale Avenue. Among the retail establishments on or near Lyndale, Hum’s Liquors stands out for the dual signage on the northwest corner of 22nd and Lyndale. One sign reflects the store having been there since the 1960s whereas the other reflects it having been updated to suit contemporary tastes.
I walked three blocks of Lyndale (two of them as back-and-forth spurs), then returned west on 24th Street to Dupont Avenue and south on Dupont to Lagoon Avenue where that branches off from Lake Street. (The route map should make this clear, but one oddity to keep in mind is that 24th Street is just one block south of 22nd Street.)
Because this portion of the walk was similar in character to what had come before, I’ll omit the details other than to remark on one novelty, which is that I passed two retail corners on Dupont. One, where I turned from 24th Street, is anchored by Guns N Needles Tatttoo and the other, at 27th Street, is anchored by LaMere Cycles.
As I neared Lagoon Avenue, I came to the back side of the Buzza Lofts of Uptown complex, which is where its overall form is most clearly visible. You can see that there is a rather zigguraty portion with the Buzza name on its tower and then some lower portions that connect to the original 1907 building along Lake Street. The architecture is fascinating and the history of the building’s use even more so—but both are too complex to spell out here. Instead, I strongly recommend reading the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. In 2012, Dominium undertook the residential conversion.
Lagoon Avenue in the “Uptown” area leading up to Hennepin Avenue is something of an entertainment corridor, but there is also some professional office space mixed in. The photograph shows the stylish entry facade of the Ackerberg Group’s 1300 Lagoon building, which advertises an insurance agent, two law firms, and a title company.
After looping through this area, I headed back east toward Lyndale Avenue on 29th Street, which runs along the south side of the Midtown Greenway and is a pilot shared-use street. Initially my attention was drawn to the apartment buildings on the far side of the Greenway, but as I crossed Bryant Avenue I again noted the Soo Visual Arts Center, this time snapping a photo of the dramatic north face.
This was also about the point where the public art installations associated with the shared-use project started. I show one of them later when I wrapped back around through here on Aldrich Avenue. For now, I’ll skip ahead to a couple of the buildings on Lyndale. The US flag mural on the front of the VFW post was painted in 2013 by Scott LoBaido and is shown here with his permission.
The buildings south of the Herkimer aren’t clearly visible in the background of the photo, but you can see a marquee projecting from one of them. That’s the former Lyndale Theater, now the LynLake Brewery. Of all the options in this area, that’s the one I chose for my lunch stop because I was intrigued by their recent introduction of a “pop-up kitchen.” Essentially this allows them to host food trucks, as many taprooms do, but without needing a place to park a truck. Instead, they provide a small kitchen space occupied by a rotating cast of chefs, each in residence for a couple months. At the time of my walk, that was Jess Mack of Chicks on Wheels. I had her jambalaya, which like everything else came with freshly fried potato chips. I ordinarily wouldn’t have said that potato chips go with jambalaya, but these are good enough that I’ll take them with anything.
From the LynLake corner (Lyndale Avenue and Lake Street), I walked the one block west to Aldrich Avenue, which provided me a straight shot back north to my starting point. This was again rather similar to the parallel avenues, but as I crossed 29th Street onto the bridge over the Greenway, I got a good farewell view of the neighborhood—Kyle Fokken’s 2017 sculpture Top Dog, created as part of the city’s shared-use pilot. On a nearby utility box, he explains that this “roguish” dog is a melding of the neighborhood’s pet dogs with the steam locomotives that traveled where the Greenway now is, including using the top hat to reference the locomotives’ smokestacks. I appreciate Fokken’s permission to show his work.
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 September 14, 2019. We’re sharing them here at streets.mn.