On a beautiful fall day, I walked all of the Lyndale neighborhood that I had missed on my prior walk. Actually, not quite all. Construction activity closed much of Stevens Avenue even for pedestrians, so those blocks appear in neither route. One indirect consequence is that this second route isn’t a closed loop; it starts under Interstate 35W on 31st Street East at point A and ends a block north of there on Lake Street East at point B. (In reality, I closed the loop outside the neighborhood on 2nd Avenue South.) As usual, the main blue path is supplemented by a few forward-and-back spurs, shown in red.
In the first block of 31st Street, I walked between the Harriet Tubman Center West and the so-called Lake Street post office, in the second block between the 5th Precinct police station and a shopping center, and in the third block between the Metro Transit Nicollet Garage and a bank drive-through. Thereafter, the surroundings turned residential. Two visual highlights once I crossed Harriet Avenue were Agape Dos, a home for people living with HIV/AIDS operated by Clare Housing, and a stunning green car parked on the street.
Turning north on Lyndale Avenue toward Lake Street, my introduction to the Lyn-Lake commercial node was HUGE Improv Theater followed by Saigon Uptown, which five years ago already counted as a survivor from an earlier era.
North of there are a few small specialty shops, such as Old World Cobblers Shoe & Leather Repair. Opinions differ whether this is the place to go or whether that honor belongs to the nearby Lee Shoe & Leather Repair. I only have experience with one of the two, so I won’t weigh in other than to remark how wonderful it is that we have two contenders.
The Iron Door Pub spans across two of the three adjoining buildings that now go under the name “Lyn-Lake Buildings.” After turning the corner onto Lake Street, I photographed the entrance of the main building in part to show that it began life in 1929 as the Johnson Building, but also to capture some of the detailing.
Turning south on Garfield Avenue, I enjoyed the remaining flowers and noticed the diversity of low to medium density housing styles. The building on the northwest corner with 32nd Street stood out for having been recently constructed (2014) with atypically large units—four bedrooms in each of the four units.
An open lot in the next block holds one of the neighborhood’s community gardens, the Garfield Garden. In addition to the garden itself, the site includes a Little Free Library, just out of the photo on the right.
My final photo from Garfield Avenue is intended to give some sense of the mix of housing. It shows a single-family house from 1918 side by side with a 14-unit apartment building from 1930. Of those 14 units, 13 have one bedroom and the other has two bedrooms.
Once I reached the neighborhood’s southern border, 36th Street, I turned initially west to the BP station at Lyndale, then east as far as Grand Avenue, before backing up to Harriet Avenue for the northward return to Lake Street. Again I paid a lot of attention to the mix of housing, but I wasn’t insensitive to other pleasures of walking on a fall day, such as the colored foliage as I crossed 35th Street.
The block of Lake Street between Harriet and Grand Avenues includes two long-time businesses, albeit with different scales of “long time.” Schatzlein Saddle Shop has been in the current location since 1968; it was next door (now a parking lot) from 1936, and it was within a couple blocks of here since 1907. They can certainly take pride in that longevity, as their neighbor to the east, Extreme Noise, does in continuing since 1994 as a volunteer-run co-op, a “resource for the Minneapolis punk community.”
Just south of Lake Street on Grand Avenue South, what might otherwise be just another bland 1960s apartment building gains considerable pizazz from its clever branding as The Mondrian, a tribute to Piet Mondrian. By using an under-appreciated feature of Google’s Street View—the ability to retrieve older views—I was able to determine that the signature window above the entry dates from sometime between July of 2007 and July of 2009, apparently in conjunction with less striking updates to the other windows. The corresponding name and logo didn’t appear until later, sometime between June and August of 2011.
Crossing 31st Street, I got a more complete view of the Vietnamese Alliance Church, which I had seen the north end of previously. From the church’s appearance, I expected it to be of similar age to The Mondrian, so I was shocked to learn from the building permit index that the core dates to 1935 (as the Christian & Missionary Alliance Chapel). But the appearance isn’t completely deceiving: most of what’s visible is from the 1960 and 1965 additions.
One of the great advantages of walking over other means of travel is that it is slow, allowing time to appreciate details. Take for example the porch roof on one particular Grand Avenue duplex: rather than being supported directly by the two pillars, it rests on two crouching human forms, apparently cast in bronze. Given the sun’s direction, these sculptures are best seen from the back, which conveniently is possible via a window reflection.
A block later, I reached the west side of Lyndale Community School, the east side of which I had seen on my prior walk. That prior view had included the main mural from the Lyndale Mural Project lead by Greta McLain, but on this second walk, I saw three smaller murals from the same project, one over each of the entrances on the building’s west and south sides. The photo shows the first of these, the one at what would be the building’s northwest corner, if round buildings had corners.
The neighborhood continues to be developed. As I neared 36th Street, I saw on the east side of Grand Avenue a three-story apartment building of substantial size that clearly is of recent construction. The property records show it to have 6254 square feet on each level, totaling 24 units, and to have been built in 2016.
Across the avenue on the west side is a cluster of retail buildings housing Dave the Pie Guy, Present Moment Herbs and Books, and City Coin Laundry. I’d hoped to stop in at Dave the Pie Guy, but it was closed—so I came back the next day and enjoyed a slice of blueberry pie.
Having alternated southward and northward passes on Garfield, Harriet, and Grand Avenues, it was now time to head back north on Pleasant Avenue. This time, though, I wasn’t going to walk all the way to the opposite side of the neighborhood. To complement what I walked the first day, I just needed to walk the two blocks of Pleasant Avenue that are south of the school.
Having previously passed lots of upstairs/downstairs duplexes, I chose this two-block stretch as the time to finally photograph one. I found the lights (windows) set into its front doors particularly appealing. The apartment building just visible to its right is also interesting. Like other 1920s buildings, it has decoratively trimmed red brick veneer over a two-story (plus garden level) wood frame. But rather than being a rectangular box, it has a U-shaped plan with doors on the two side wings facing in toward the central courtyard.
Still in that same small area south of the school, I also photographed another community garden and a front-yard planter bursting with brightly-lit orange flowers.
At the school, I turned west on 34th Street to Lyndale Avenue. The intersection of 34th and Lynale has Painter Park on its north side and Sonny’s Cafe on its south side. Further south, just short of the BP station at 36th Street, Moe’s Spine and Bodywork stands out in large part due to the mural on its south face, which was recently painted by Erin Sayer. I gratefully acknowledge Sayer’s permission to photograph the work.
Backtracking to 35th Street, it was time to walk across the full width of the neighborhood from west to east. This was a sign that the walk was winding down; after the initial east-to-west pass on 31st Street, most of the route was in the western part of the neighborhood.
Crossing avenues that I previously walked in the north/south directions, I got a second look at what was on each corner and often found the sunlight now more favorable for photography. For example, at Grand Avenue I was able to record the 2018 triplex on the northwest corner together with the 1903 duplex to its north. As Bruce Brunner told the Southwest Journal’s Michelle Bruch, building the triplex was “very difficult.” Documentation from the rezoning and variances indicate some of what was involved.
Closer to the east side of the neighborhood, I crossed Nicollet Avenue (walked on day 1) and viewed again the popular Hola Arepa restaurant, a 2014 outgrowth of an earlier food truck, still parked on the premises.
I was able to see a bit more of the construction work on Interstate 35W and Stevens Avenue and then it was time to walk 1st Avenue northward from 34th Street to Lake Street, enjoying such sights as fall flowers and historic houses.
As I neared my endpoint—and crossed over the initial segment of the route—I got a second view of the Harriet Tubman Center West. Because of the Stevens Avenue construction, I’d been unable to photograph the artwork at the northeast corner of the property, but here at the northwest corner, I got a good view of The Last Journey (1999), adapted from Jacob Lawrence’s illustrated children’s book, Harriet and the Promised Land. Given the recent news that the Tubman social-service organization is consolidating its services at other locations, this artwork may not be here for long.
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 October 22, 2019. We’re sharing them here at streets.mn.
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