Walking All the Streets of Southeast Lynnhurst

Snow fell since my first and second walks in Lynnhurst, but it was still recognizably the same neighborhood with its predominance of single-family houses. The biggest novelty was that I walked along and across the main Minnehaha Creek as opposed to the little tributary draining Lake Harriet.

My starting and ending point was at 50th Street West and West Minnehaha Parkway, just north of where the two creek branches join. On the route map, that’s the A and B in the center of the shaded overall neighborhood. (Because this day’s route covered the southeast quadrant of the neighborhood, that point is at the route’s northwest.) There’s another A and B on Lyndale Avenue because I needed to walk the most southeastern block of the neighborhood as a subsidiary loop branching off from (and later returning to) the main loop.

Heading south on the parkway, I passed between the Lynnhurst Recreation Center and Shir Tikvah synagogue. I was particularly interested in a circle of benches on the side lawn of the latter, unlikely to be used in this weather but otherwise perfect for people to face one another in conversation.

Just beyond those two institutions, the parkway splits into two roadways, one continuing along the creek’s north bank and the other crossing a bridge to the south bank. I initially walked a forward-and-back spur (shown in red) along the north bank as far as 51st Street. The house where I turned back is as good an example as any of the predominant style in this area: substantial two-story houses from the first couple decades of the 20th century.

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1300 West Minnehaha Pkwy. (1921)

Once I was on the south bank, I had another spur to walk, this one extending from 51st to 52nd Street. The first part of that spur was on the parkway, but then it continued onto Humboldt Avenue. A motorist would likely have found it more natural to follow the curve of the parkway, but as a pedestrian, the sidewalk lead in a straight shot due south onto Humboldt.

The houses on Humboldt Avenue near 52nd Street are unusual for their recent construction. The two closest to the corner (where I turned around) call back to traditional styles, whereas the third is a modernist composition of orthogonal planes.

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5146 and 5142 Humboldt Ave. S. (2019 and 2015)

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5138 Humboldt Ave. S. (2014)

The next photo is from the next block south on Humboldt, but I first needed to backtrack to 51st Street and loop around via that street, Girard Avenue, and 52nd Street. This let me see the back side of the Burroughs Community School and Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, both of which I’d previously photographed from the front, as well as yet more of the early-20th-century two-story houses. Only once I was back to Humboldt Avenue and south of 52nd Street did I start seeing a new trend in the houses: smaller styles with only a single full story.

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5236 Humboldt Ave. S. (1913)

At 53rd Street I turned east and then after looping via Fremont Avenue and 54th Street (with spurs to Emerson) found myself headed back north on Girard Avenue. There I was interested to see a one-story rambler from the middle of the 20th century that had recently been partially extended to a second story. As my regular readers will know, I generally prefer additions that are visually distinct from the original, rather than trying to either blend in with the original or to subsume it. This would certainly qualify. The look of the ground floor has been modernized, but the contrast with the second floor is nonetheless sharp.

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5322 Girard Ave. S. (1949 and 2019)

Two properties north of there, I ignored the house entirely in order to focus on the trucks in the driveway. Because I concentrate on places rather than people, I rarely get any sense of a resident’s interests, unless they happen to be an avid gardener. (I’ve also seen apiaries and chicken coops.) Most hobbies would be inside, out of my sight. So that’s one reason I considered the trucks an enrichment of my walk. The other, though, is that turquoise color. How can one not be struck by that? And oddly enough, it started chasing me around—once I saw the truck, I started seeing similar colors on the doors of several houses.

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Trucks at 5316 Girard Ave. S.

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5319 Emerson Ave. S. (1929)

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1020 53rd St. W. (1925)

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810 53rd St. W. (1951)

Those turquoise-doored houses have other features of interest, ranging from arches to a refreshed exterior, and I saw other stuff along the way as well, such as Christmas decorations. In the interest of brevity, I’ll skip ahead to the point where I had seen nearly everything south of the parkway and was headed north on Bryant Avenue. This avenue has never crossed the creek for motorists, though there was once a streetcar bridge. I used the one remaining crossing, a magnificent pedestrian bridge from 1926, “a rare example of a continuous, cantilevered Pratt deck truss with arched lower chord in the state of Minnesota.” It provides an elevated vantage point from which to see not only the creek, but also the bicycle trail running alongside.

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Bryant Ave. Pedestrian Bridge over Minnehaha Creek (L6393, 1926)

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Bike Trail from the Bryant Ave. Bridge

North of the creek, Bryant Avenue passes through some more residential area broken up by a view of Washburn Park Water Tower to the east on 51st Street. And then, a half block south of 50th Street, the land use changes. Recall from the prior walk that the 50th and Bryant intersection is a streetcar-era retail node. Coming from the south, my first encounter with this node was Saint Genevieve. As the photo shows, the door provides an introduction to the vintage feel that permeates the interior. (I didn’t go in, but I’ve been there before. It is theatrical in the best sense of the word, stripped of its negative connotations; it is a skillfully created illusion.) This notwithstanding, however, the building itself is actually rather new, having been rebuilt after a 2010 fire.

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Saint Genevieve, 5003 Bryant Ave. S.

Continuing along that rebuilt building, the corner spot is occupied by a Patina store, the one returnee from before the fire. And then to its east on 50th Street, I saw my lunch spot: George and the Dragon, subtitled “Lynnhurst Public House.” (Beyond it, some more turquoise is evident on the next building, The Malt Shop Restaurant.)

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George and the Dragon, 813 50th St. W.

The recessed entry visible in the photo leads into an airlock vestibule, from which the inner door lets diagonally into one corner of the pub. That’s the first sign that this establishment has been designed with a snug warmth in mind. That theme is picked up by the ample use of wood, and in a broader sense by the inclusion of a children’s bookcase, named for the owners’ son. I was originally annoyed at myself for photographing that bookcase with the seemingly unrelated dustpan and broom visible where they are propped in the corner. But then I noticed the short handles. Genius! Kids really like to be given responsibility.

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Paco’s Bookcase at George and the Dragon

I also extended the warm color scheme by ordering an Utepils Alt 1848. I don’t ordinarily photograph my beers—just the food—because most beer honestly doesn’t look very good. This one is worth an exception. Only afterward did I realize that this is the second time I’ve photographed that same beer. The previous time was when I stopped in at Utepils itself, in the Harrison neighborhood.

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Utepils Alt 1848 at George and the Dragon

The menu has lots of tempting choices—I’m already planning a return visit with my Less Pedestrian Half so that I can try more. For this first visit, I ordered a beef rib toastie with chips. In case you’re as ignorant about British sandwiches as I was, a toastie is grilled in a press, analogous to a panini. This one incorporates aged Widmer cheddar, caramelized onion, arugula, and a horseradish cream in addition to the beef, which is braised in beer and stock. Yum! Lots of rich, warm, dark flavors with just the right amount of brighter pep to serve as a counterpoint. The side order of chips was a comforting classic.

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Beef Rib Toastie with Chips at George and the Dragon

After lunch, I looked across at the other side of this block of 50th Street. I had previously visited Zinnia Folk Art and Whole Sum Kitchen, but there are also several other shops further east, ending with the somewhat incongruously named Tangletown Bike Shop. (The Tangletown neighborhood has Lyndale Avenue as its western border, a block and a half east of here. The shop moved from that area without changing names.)

Then I turned south on Aldrich Avenue for the two blocks back to the parkway. Two of the highlights from this segment were a particularly striking Free Library, encrusted with stones and tiles and pierced by portholes, and a thoroughly Moorish-revival house from 1928. The word “thoroughly” is key; bits and pieces of Moorish fantasy were quite common in the 1920s. I can’t recall seeing as complete a commitment to the style as this, though.

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Free Library at 5131 Aldrich Ave. S.

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5140 Aldrich Ave. S. (1928)

Once I reached the parkway on the north bank of the creek, I first walked a one-block spur east to Lyndale Avenue (the neighborhood border) before turning west. The eastward spur brought me to a modern house that has a strongly vertical emphasis as a result of being broken into constituent units, each with a relatively compact footprint.

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5152 Lyndale Ave. S. (2001)

Aside from this one house, the north bank of the creek was lined with 1920s houses such as I had seen before. The craftsman-style house on the northwest corner with Dupont can serve as an example. Yet that same block between Dupont and Emerson also contained one striking exception, a 1952 rambler in the middle of the block. The plaque on a bolder across the parkway explains this anomaly. (It likely also explains the alternations in the next house, including the peculiar diagonal seam in the chimney.) Northwest Orient Airlines flight 307 crashed here on March 7, 1950, destroying the rambler’s predecessor and killing two of the children who lived there, as well as all thirteen people aboard the plane. The story of the memorial marker, as told by Nick Halter in Southwest Journal, is even more remarkable than the story of the crash itself.

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1100 West Minnehaha Pkwy. (1922)

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1114 West Minnehaha Pkwy. (1952)

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“The Crash of Flight 307” Marker Opposite 1114 West Minnehaha Pkwy.

After backtracking along the parkway from Emerson Avenue to Colfax, I took Colfax Avenue back north to 50th Street and then headed south on Dupont Avenue. This time I was able to cross over the creek to the south-bank parkway. The pedestrian bridge here is considerably closer to the water than the one at Bryant Avenue, which necessitates stairs but also provides a more detailed view of the texture of the water.

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Dupont Ave. Stairs and Pedestrian Bridge over Minnehaha Creek

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Minnehaha Creek from Dupont Ave. Bridge

Where the south-bank parkway reaches Lyndale Avenue, the southwest corner is occupied by Washburn Library. The corner turret proved to be even more interesting on the inside, where the dome is painted with an elegant stellar design rimmed by rectangles that echo those on the chandelier.

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Washburn Library, 5244 Lyndale Ave. S.

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Interior of Washburn Library

South of the library, South Lyndale Liquors is an important neighborhood landmark, and The Boulevard is a mixed-use building developed in 2004 with the aid of low-income housing tax credits. (If I’m not mistaken, this is the only multi-unit housing on this day’s walk.)

After looping around the neighborhood’s southeastern block, I headed back north on Lyndale Avenue, passing the library, crossing the creek, and continuing all the way to 50th Street before retreating to 51st.

Once I was on 51st Street, I followed it all the way from Lyndale Avenue to its tee with the north-bank parkway—the location of this walk’s very first photo, in case you’ve forgotten. Along the way, I crossed all the avenues I had previously walked, which provided a new perspective on the same houses. For example, the next photo does a better job of capturing some of Dupont Avenue’s Moravian stars than I had managed while walking that avenue. This house has three of the stars, two flanking the entrance and one on a stand near the sidewalk. On the opposite side of that same block of Dupont, another house has just a front-door star and a third house has just the one by the sidewalk. Having grown up in the Moravian-settled Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, I was quite interested to see this cluster of Moravian (or Herrnhuter) stars.

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Moravian Stars at 5056 Dupont Ave. S.

I still had one portion of the parkway left to walk, from 51st Street to Emerson Avenue along the north bank. Here (and subsequently on Emerson and Fremont Avenues) I continued to see houses broadly consistent with what I’d already photographed. However, I did also see one standout, a 1940 house that strikes me as a transition, blending into its surroundings while introducing a substantial dose of moderne.

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1222 West Minnehaha Pkwy. (1940)

As you may have noticed, the streets and avenues fall on a rigid grid away from the creek but loosen up as they near the decidedly non-grid parkway. As I wrapped up the walk, I first turned a succession of precise right angles from Emerson to 50th to Fremont, then turned a sharp hairpin from Fremont to Girard where the two of them meet the bent 51st Street nearly at the same spot. And Girard Avenue itself takes a curved course here paralleling the parkway. As a result, it serves somewhat like an alleyway accessing rear garages rather than front doors. At least, that’s the case on its west side and the first third of the way on its east side. Thereafter, the distance from Fremont Avenue becomes great enough to accommodate two tiers of houses.

Of the lots sandwiched between Girard Avenue and the parkway, the final one is occupied by Shir Tikvah, which fronts on 50th Street. (As such, this is an exception to the rule of rear sides facing Girard.) Currently the synagogue’s street address is on West Minnehaha Parkway, but the First Universalist Church which constructed the building used addresses on Girard Avenue and 50th Street.

Speaking of First Universalist, on an earlier walk I’d seen where they moved in 1993—the building previously housing the Adath Jeshurun synagogue. I find an interesting near-symmetry in this circumstance: the church moved into a vacated synagogue building, thereby vacating a building that in turn become another synagogue.

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Shir Tikvah, 1360 West Minnehaha Pkwy., from 50th St. W. (1948 as First Universalist Church)

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 December 11, 2019. We’re sharing them here at streets.mn.

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One Response to Walking All the Streets of Southeast Lynnhurst

  1. Wolfie Browender
    Wolfie February 20, 2020 at 1:32 pm #

    Max, another great walk. I really enjoy your food and beer shots. I also found the story of the NWA plane crash tragic but interesting. Thanks for sharing your travels.

    Wolfie

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