Public art was a larger part of what I photographed this day compared with my first day walking the Lowry Hill East (Wedge) neighborhood. That was just a coincidental result of the route, which was planned with the mundane purpose of filling in the blocks I had previously omitted, aside from a couple that were closed for construction.
The form of this route is more complex than many. At its core is a blue main path from the A at 25th and Hennepin to the B at 28th and Hennepin. Branching off of that are various red spurs walked forward and immediately back. But there is also a purple connector from the intersection of Emerson and Hennepin Avenues to 24th and Hennepin. (The intersection of 24th and Hennepin is marked with both an A and a B.) Like the spurs, the connector is walked forward and back, but unlike them it is not walked immediately back. Instead, the route first goes around the little triangle northeast of it. And that too is interrupted by another purple connector to another little triangle, which in turn is interrupted by a third purple connector to a third triangle—this one a larger one at the tip of the wedge-shaped neighborhood.
Heading initially southwest on Hennepin Avenue from 25th Street, as I crossed 26th Street I saw Rock “Cyfi” Martinez’s 2017 Minnesota Nice mural on the north face of the building where 10th Floor Property Management has its office. (The storefronts on Hennepin have a location of Sencha Tea Bar and MetroPet Animal Hospital.) Much later in the walk I saw another of his murals on the west face of the same building, this one depicting Prince.
The next photo looks back northeastward from further down the 2600 block. The white building in the background is the one with the mural on its other side. What I find interesting about it from this vantage point is the the Animal Medical Clinic sign, which looks to be older (and in a different name) than the purple MetroPet Animal Hospital awning under it. I’m guessing the veterinary clinic decided to engage in a bit of historic preservation, typography being just as period-specific as architecture is. If that’s their point, kudos to them. Meanwhile the foreground of the photo shows the striking facade of Phoenix Theater.
As a general matter, Hennepin Avenue’s angled course results in alternating intersections with the east-west numbered streets and north-south alphabetically named avenues. In particular, the 2600 block of Hennepin is interrupted between 26th and 27th Streets by the entry of northbound Girard Avenue.
What’s interesting about this intersection is that it visibly was reconfigured. Girard avenue currently curves at the last moment in order to meet Hennepin perpendicularly. But one can see that it used to continue straight to an acutely angled intersection—witness the buildings and sidewalk. (Once home, I confirmed this on a 1940 map.) To the south of the current, hooked intersection, the area between the avenues is a narrow, tapered lot that holds a four-story apartment building from 1906. This building is unusual for the large size of its apartments: 8 three-bedroom units and 1 two-bedroom.
This area has loads of interesting apartment buildings, so I certainly won’t show them all, but I needed to photograph the Lorraine Court apartments on the adjoining block of Girard Avenue for the sake of the stained-glass sign on the entry gateway—or whatever a gateway is called if there is no gate.
After a couple more residential blocks, Girard Avenue reaches a dead-end for motor vehicles, but those of us fortunate enough to be without that encumbrance can continue south, crossing a bridge over the Midtown Greenway. South of the bridge and north of Lagoon Avenue is the pedestrian plaza associated with the Ackerberg Group’s MoZaic development, MoZaic West and MoZaic East.
This plaza is graced by quite a collection of sculpture, not all of which is shown here. The first photo has the sinuous red metal bench of Hermodice carunculata (2011) by Doug Friend, AIA, assisted by Tony Harrington; the MoZaic Colossus head (2011) by James Tyler; and one of the pair of bronze figures on granite pillars, Venus in Ventus (2012) by Heidi Hoy. The granite pillars are salvaged from Cass Gilbert’s 1915 Federal Reserve building. The second photo primarily shows the Trolley Ball (2012) by Lars Fisk, though on the wall of MoZaic West in the background, above the Origami entrance, you can glimpse the bottom portion of the Perforated Metal Screen Wall (2012) by Mark T. Harris of the BKV Group next to a little bit of the 60 by 90 foot green wall.
You can learn more about all of these pieces—and others—at Ackerberg’s artwork page. I appreciate James Tyler’s permission to photograph his Colossus and regret that I didn’t succeed in reaching the other artists.
South of Lagoon Avenue, Girard Avenue reopens to motor vehicles. I walked the block to Lake Street, then west one block on Lake Street to Hennepin Avenue, and back north on Hennepin. This section of the route, up through the first block and a half of Hennepin, is mostly restaurants and bars. But then comes a pair of structures I found more interesting, one on each side of 29th Street. South of the intersection is the old Walker Library (1911–1981), a neoclassical edifice now housing the Mansion at Uptown event center. And north of the intersection is Uptown Transit Center.
The block of 29th Street between the transit center and Fremont Avenue is reserved for buses. I walked it as a spur, which had the delightful result that I was able to see Guy Baldwin’s Fish Carousel (1995) at the intersection of Fremont Avenue and 29th Street, the northeast corner of MoZaic East. Actually, this is my second encounter with the sculpture, which I walked past in the Cedar-Isles-Dean neighborhood where it was previously located. I like this photo better.
Resuming my northward progress on Hennepin Avenue for two more blocks, I passed lots of small retail and service businesses. These still included a significant number dedicated to food and drink, but with more other stuff mixed in than further south—beads, for example. A number of the buildings feature apartments over the stores, as with the 1925 example shown here. I find it fascinating that the architect was willing to sacrifice some apartment space for the sake of a more decorative facade.
Turning off Hennepin, I walked 27th Street east all the way across the neighborhood to Lyndale Avenue. Crossing Dupont, I noticed again the surprising (to me) retail node that I had encountered walking Dupont the previous day. Looking now at the 27th Street side of this corner building, I was doubly surprised to see that it includes a bookstore I had been completely unaware of, Nat’s Uptown Books. This discovery is as good an advertisement as any for the benefit of venturing off the main arterial streets.
Most of 27th Street is residential, but that doesn’t mean it is uninteresting. For example, get a load of the color at this duplex, both on the doors and in the garden.
Walking the 2600 block of Lyndale Avenue as a spur, first north and then south, revealed throngs of Sunday brunchers enjoying the lovely day at both The Lynhall and French Meadow Bakery & Cafe. Indoor space wasn’t at so much of a premium as the sidewalk patios were, and I was due for a break from the sun, so the stars aligned for me to enjoy a zen salad at French Meadow. It was a joy to eat, though the menu description was almost more than I could read: “steamed organic brown rice, organic micro-greens, radish, organic kale, house-made hummus, cucumber, scallion, roasted tomatoes, harissa, house-made guacamole, toasted sunflower seeds, Kalamata olives, and lemon vinaigrette.” Although not mentioned, I’m pretty sure the hummus was spiked with pimentón de la Vera.
After this lunchtime spur, the main route resumed with the block of Lyndale Avenue leading from 27th Street to 28th. The highlight of that block is Scout Workshop, “a values-driven coworking space for creative-minded people in all fields” that occupies the former Gaytee Stained Glass building together with the newer, smaller building attached to its south side. The main building dates from 1922 and was originally a laundry, while the annex is from 1937 and was originally a dry-cleaning business. Each now has an artistic accent. The main building has a stained-glass light above the entry; it announces the previous occupant and was presumably also made by them. The annex has a mural on its south face, continuing onto the curved front corner. It was painted in 2018 by Adam Turman, whose gracious permission I appreciate.
From 28th Street, I turned north on Emerson Avenue after one-block spurs west to Fremont and south to 29th Street. (These were consequences of the road construction.) Both 28th Street and Emerson Avenue presented the usual mix of residential styles; however, one building on Emerson stood out not only for its architectural details, such as the suspended porch roof, but also for its glorious front garden.
Continuing north on Emerson, I passed the east side of Jefferson Community School. This was my second view of the school, having passed it on Hennepin Avenue at the very beginning of the walk. But my best photo was from the third encounter, walking 26th Street near the end of the walk, so I’ll keep you waiting for that.
Soon I was back to Hennepin Avenue, a half block northeast from my starting point. Eventually I’d head back there, but first it was time to continue further northeast on Hennepin—this is the part of the route map where the purple connectors and blue triangles kick in.
This section of Hennepin Avenue has more residences but also an eclectic mix of businesses, ranging from the cutting-edge Cafe Meow (a combination of coffee shop and rescue cat lounge) to the 1963 Liquor Lyle’s (a dive bar). One might not think they have much in common, but each offers a happy hour—a quick hit of cat in one case, two-for-one drinks in the other. My perhaps faulty memory is that the Liquor Lyle’s two-for-ones used to be the entire time they were open; the web page shows that currently a few hours each day are excepted. Alas, this information was irrelevant, as I walked by before they were open for the day.
At the tip of the wedge (north of Franklin Avenue), there wasn’t a whole lot to see on Lyndale and Hennepin Avenues. I wasn’t even able to walk on the side of these avenues within Lowry Hill East—the sidewalks were exclusively on the outer sides, in other neighborhoods. One partial exception is that just north of Franklin Avenue, I was able to walk on the inside (western) side of Lyndale as far as the warehouse-like building occupied by Vision Loss Resources and its affiliates, DeafBlind Services Minnesota and Contract Production Services. However, then the sidewalk ended without there being any safe way to cross to the east side, so I had to retreat to Franklin, cross, and restart my northward progress. In exchange for all of this effort, though, I had the opportunity to photograph the actual tip of the wedge (or very close to it, anyhow) as I crossed on Groveland.
Aside from the little triangles at Colfax and Dupont, I walked Hennepin Avenue all the way from the tip of the wedge back to where I started the walk at 25th Street. Once I passed Emerson Avenue, I was back to the main path leading circuitously from 25th Street to 28th.
Turning east on 25th Street, I walked along the northern edge of Mueller Park between Colfax and Bryant Avenues. Having previously seen the perimeter of the park from those avenues, this time I entered the park to see it more closely. One particular highlight is the Allan Spear LGBT Equality Colonnade; Raya Zimmerman’s article in the Southwest Journal explains why Spear was honored in this way.
As I was about to turn from 25th Street onto Lyndale Avenue, I spotted a distinctive pair of townhouses, looking to be from the 19th century. Once I rounded the corner, I found a group of eight in the same style, as shown in the photo. The building permit index shows they date from 1888. Apparently the ten attached two-story units were rented out as such until 1900, when they were each subdivided into two single-story apartments. Today the 20 single-story units are separately owned as condos.
Further south on that block, I was attracted to the art-deco facade on the Lyndale Animal Hospital and the crisp signage (painted by Forrest Wozniak) on the Common Roots Cafe. (The animal hospital was built in 1935 for the purpose.)
Common Roots is on the northwest corner with 26th Street, onto which I turned. Behind the cafe on the south side of the building is Fontlove Studio, “a very small letterpress shop making good-looking things for good people.” I’m not clear whether the last phrase is truly a restriction or merely a description of people as good; after all, a poster displayed in the window indicates that “you are no more or less special than anyone else.” Behind the building and alleyway, Common Roots has its own garden.
Following 26th Street all the way to Hennepin Avenue before turning south on Emerson Avenue brought me along the south side of Jefferson Community School. The photo taken as I crossed Emerson shows three signs that illustrate the progression of names applied to this building. The inscription on the south face is “Jefferson Junior High School,” the original name at the time of construction in 1923. The two white-on-blue signs on the east face have names for the more recent program: first “Jefferson Elementary” (the faded sign on the top, wide and short), then “Jefferson Community School” (the multi-line sign between the second and third story windows).
At this point, I was almost done. I just needed to go south on Emerson and then west on 28th Street the two short blocks back to Hennepin Avenue, where I could catch a bus home. But the last few blocks had their own surprises in wait, just like every block. In particular, I found one by following the arrow on an unassuming chalkboard sign that pointed into an unassuming building for “good coffee this way.” Indeed I got a good coffee there, but the real treat was the chair I got to drink it in, a classic mid-century modern, as elegant as comfortable. After all the great design I had seen, it was a fitting note to end on.
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 23, 2019. We’re sharing them here at streets.mn.