Walking All the Streets of Eastern McKinley

Don’t just scroll through this post looking at the photos. At a minimum, even if you don’t read the text, click the links. The most striking sights of this walk—several remarkable murals clustered on a single building—are only represented through links to external sources. I didn’t take any decent photos of them and am not going to disrespect the artists by publishing the ones I did take. Of course, if you don’t read the text, how would you get this instruction to not just look at the images? I guess I need to address the image-only folks.

An Image Warning About Images

The blue tint in the route map shows the full McKinley neighborhood. Everything west of Lyndale Avenue North was in the previous walk, together with three blocks of that avenue. The remaining eastern section is itself bisected by the I-94 trench, with almost entirely residential land use west of the freeway and largely industrial east of it. The route starts with the portion east of the freeway, then crosses to the west on Dowling Avenue North, and after winding through the residential area crosses back to the starting point on Lowry Avenue North.

More specifically, the route’s starting and ending point (A and B) is at the Burger King sandwiched between Washington Avenue North and 2nd Street North on Lowry Avenue North. (Because every street and avenue in this area has the directional designation “North,” I’ll omit it henceforth.) Before following the main blue path northward on 2nd Street, I took the first extended forward-and-back spur (shown in red) out Lowry Avenue to the midpoint of the bridge over the Mississippi. That provided a good vantage point from which to see the GAF roof shingles plant and the further upstream portion of riverbank that constitutes the Upper Harbor Terminal (UHT) redevelopment area.

GAF Shingle Plant and Upper Harbor Terminal Riverfront

Once I was on 2nd Street, I did see a couple houses (dating at least as far back as 1894), but mostly industrial and commercial establishments. One of those, Eide Machinery, provides a good example of an architectural style that has long eluded my grasp of nomenclature. In its rounded corners and horizontal banding, it resembles the streamline moderne of the 1930s. But this version from the 1970s and 1980s is almost always rendered in brown brick, rather than smooth white surfaces. Can anyone help me out with a name for this style?

Eide Machinery, 3219 2nd St. N. (1984)

Most of the establishments on the east side of 2nd Street have significant footprints—not just GAF, but also LIBRAFabric Supply, and International Paper’s corrugated sheet plant. One exception is Sayo Electronics, a specialist in speedometers and taxi supplies. Its 4000-square-foot building would be more typical on the west side of 2nd Street, where the lots are wedged between that street and Washington Avenue. But whether the enterprises are large or small (indeed, especially if they are small), what struck me was the diversity of economic activity contained in this one compact sub-neighborhood. It’s hard to imagine what Minneapolis would do without such areas.

Sayo Electronics and Taxi Supply, 3246 2nd St. N.

Easily the most eye-catching building (murals aside) is the one occupied by Prime Manufacturers and Empire HydroSports. Like others on this hillside, it presents a two-story elevation to 2nd Street but only a one-story elevation to Washington Avenue, where the upper level is on grade. For a look inside at some of the manufacturing process, one of their equipment suppliers has a video. The company was also in the news last spring for jumping into co-designing and manufacturing innovative face shields.

Prime Manufacturers & Empire HydroSports, 3334 Washington Ave. N. (from 2nd St. N.)

Approximately 1/6 mile further north, at 3449 2nd Street North, I was stopped dead in my tracks by the murals. This side of the building gives no hint of its occupancy. When I later saw the Washington Avenue side, I learned it is Supreme Marine. But the murals on the back side connect to a different tenant—appropriately enough, a muralist tenant of this rear portion of the building. I learned through her generous email response that Erin Sayer has studio space there, which she shares with Venus DeMars and All the Pretty Horses, including “a stage and recording studio as well as video production.” And Sayers, beyond being a muralist herself, became friendly with other muralists and was “the place to go if you wanted a wall to paint.” Given that the murals I saw all dated from 2013 and 2014, it may also be relevant that “we used to have EDM raves from 2013–2017 or so.”

Enough with the general background; time to enumerate the specific murals that grabbed my attention. (Reminder: click the links.) The majority of the back of the building is occupied by The Serpenteens by Fin DAC and Angelina Christina. Another chunk of the back has a mural of a whimsical elephant and bird by Ryan “Henry” Ward. It’s currently the sixth photo in his gallery. Each side of a recessed loading dock bay features a distinct mural by Jonathan Wakuda Fischer. The south side is Wind and the north is Blooming. Underneath the loading dock is a series of stenciled images of Prince by Sayers herself; I don’t have a link for that, so you’ll just have to go see them in person. Which you should do for the other artworks too!

Nearing the point of the 2nd/Washington wedge, the final lot is occupied by another of the rare houses and the hillside is reduced to the scale a simple retaining wall can accommodate. But I took this photo neither for the house’s garage door nor for the wall, but rather for the oxidized steel fixture at the base of the wall. It intrigues me. Might one of my readers be able to identify it?

3530 Washington Ave. N. (from 2nd St. N.)

Rather than continuing north, I took a hairpin turn onto Washington Avenue, which I walked as a spur south and then back north. (Further spurs branched off of it on 34th and 33rd Avenues.)

Just as I turned onto Washington, I was hailed by the driver of a van asking if I wanted to take a photo of him. This was a bit startling, as at the moment I was simply walking along, my camera phone in my pocket. I can only assume he must have spotted me taking one of the earlier photos. At any rate, I’m not one to turn down an invitation, and so here he is, whoever he may be, with my thanks for reminding me that this area is not simply an assemblage of buildings, but rather is inhabited by people who live and work here.

Volunteer Subject, Washington Ave. N. at 2nd St. N.

I already mentioned Supreme Marine, a service provider for Mercury motors. Another motor-related establishment on Washington Avenue is Go Moto, offering “scooter and motorcycle sales, service, parts, accessories, and gear.” There are also several small-scale manufacturers. I previously showed the 2nd Street side of one; another that I photographed from Washington Avenue is A. Rivera & Associates, a maker of custom commercial seating. But between Rivera’s shop and that of Peabody Enterprises, the Hell’s Angels clubhouse stands out for its high-contrast red-and-white color scheme as well as for being social rather than commercial or industrial in character.

A. Rivera & Associates, 3240 Washington Ave. N.
Hell’s Angels Clubhouse, 3234 Washington Ave. N.

After returning from this spur, I encountered MnDOT’s Camden truck station just north of the junction with 2nd Street and then got a closer view of the existing structures in the Upper Harbor Terminal, in particular the iconic storage domes.

Upper Harbor Terminal Storage Domes and Elevator

Using Dowling Avenue, I crossed I-94 to the residential area on the west side. (Still east of Lyndale Avenue, though, so in the eastern portion of the neighborhood so far as my division into two walks goes.) Compared with the industrial area, this entailed a much more winding path, and I won’t narrate it all. Likewise, I’ll only offer a single example of a house, one I noted both for its color scheme and for its preservation of the early-20th-century period when this area experienced its first wave of development.

3634 Lyndale Ave. N. (1913)

Faithful readers know that I have a thing for Little Free Libraries, to the point where I’ve needed to put myself on a diet, showing photos only of the most striking. The one in Perkins Hill Park qualifies thanks to its bold geometric paint job.

Little Free Library, Perkins Hill Park (Near 35th Ave. N.)

The intersection of 4th Street and 34th Avenue is notable for having religious or educational institutions on all four corners. On the northwest, Minnesota Buddhist Vihara occupies a two-story stucco building that looks like the former corner grocery store it is. Not visible behind the vihara’s sign, a domed masonry structure was currently under construction. My extremely limited knowledge of Buddhism left me unsure whether I correctly identified it as a stupa, so I was relieved to get confirmation from the building permit.

Minnesota Buddhist Vihara, 3401 4th St. N.
Minnesota Buddhist Vihara, 3401 4th St. N. (Former Grocery, 1914)

On the southwest corner, Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church occupies a 21st-century building, the boxy form of which is emphasized by the extension of the portico’s colonnade to a second tier. I was also interested to see that the southern end of the building houses the Center for Families, “a para-ministry organization established to empower and assist the community, economically, socially and educationally … [leasing] office space … to nonprofit organizations that provide needed assistance and resources to the Northside community.”

Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, 3355 4th St. N. (2003)

Across 4th Street on the southeast corner, “Cityview Community School is a Pre-K–5th grade … Turnaround Arts School … [making] connections to academics through creativity and the arts. As a Full-Service Community School, [it offers] health support, out-of-school time activities, and family engagement opportunities ….”

Cityview Community School, 3350 4th St. N. (1999)
Bicycle Racks, Cityview Community School

Finally, the northeast corner has Morrison Baptist Church. The building looks to be from the early 20th century, but its exact age is a mystery to me—all I was able to establish with certainty was that it was moved here in 1948 from a lot that subsequently became part of the I-94 trench.

Morrison Baptist Church, 3400 4th St. N. (Moved from 3210 3rd St. N., 1948)

Once I reached Lowry Avenue on 6th Street, there was still a bit of looping around to do and a couple spurs to walk, but the bottom line is that I walked in one direction or the other (or both) the entire stretch of Lowry from Lyndale back to the Burger King. The northeast corner of Lowry and Lyndale has the Lowry Grocery and Deli, while the block between 4th and 3rd Streets has two infrastructural buildings—one present-day, the other former. The still-operating facility is a pumping station for the city’s water department, while the former one is apparently now an office building, most recently remodeled in 2019, though it has quite a history of adaptive reuse. It starts in 1908 as an electric transformer station (substation #28), is converted in 1954 into a service building for Northern States Power, and then in 1972 into a warehouse.

Lowry Grocery & Deli, 628 Lowry Ave. N. (1904)
North Pumping Station, 3200 4th St. N.
3201 3rd St. N. (Former Electric Substation, 1908)

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 20, 2021. We’re sharing them here at streets.mn.

All photos are by the author.

Max Hailperin

About Max Hailperin

Max Hailperin's personal project is allofminneapolis.com. Minneapolis has 87 neighborhoods, including the three industrial areas. Some he knows well, others he has not yet entered. However, he has committed to explore all of them on foot: every block of every street in every neighborhood. He is working through the neighborhoods alphabetically, from Armatage to Windom Park, so as to focus in one area, then hop to somewhere else.

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