This summer, I've decided to turn my attention from long distance walking to connecting with others. I made a mental wish list of people with whom I wanted to walk and Jason Wittenberg was at the top of that list. Jason is the Manager of Land Use, Design and Preservation for the City of Minneapolis, where he has worked for the Community Planning & Economic Development Department since 1998. He holds a Master of Urban Planning and Policy degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a B.A. in Geography from the University of Minnesota.
Jason and I have been following each other’s walks on Twitter since 2015 when I completed an 18 mile walk the entire stretch of Lyndale Avenue. He later tweeted that he was walking Lake Street from the border of Minneapolis/St. Louis Park to the border of Minneapolis/St. Paul. We’ve been cheering each other on ever since.
For our maiden voyage, we settled on June 5 and met up at the first Open Streets Minneapolis event of the season on Lyndale Avenue. For our route, we chose 42nd Street from Lyndale Avenue to West River Parkway which runs along the Mississippi River.
We crossed through 6 neighborhoods: Kingfield, the border of Regina & Bryant, Bancroft, Standish, and Hiawatha. It was great to get to know Jason better but also to take note of what catches his attention during a walk. Having his urban planning perspective during our walk was a huge benefit. I learned a lot on our first walk and wish I had been taking notes along the way!
Curran's has been part of the Kingfield neighborhood since 1948. The family owned restaurant has been featured in The Heavy Table and Twin Cities Planet.
Historic Landmark: Montefiore Cemetery and Chapel (Temple Israel Memorial Park)
One of the tips Jason gave me was to consult the City of Minneapolis Historic Preservation Landmarks and Districts map before stepping out for a walk with a planned route. He pointed out two historic landmarks on our walk that I likely would have missed if I would have been on my own.
A description of the first historic landmark we visited- Montefiore Cemetery and Chapel (Temple Israel Memorial Park)- from the City of Minneapolis Heritage Preservation:
The Montefiore Cemetery Chapel is considered a significant reflection of the religions and cultural development of early German Jewish communities in Minneapolis. The Cemetery Chapel was commissioned by the Montefiore Burial Association in 1890 in order to carry out traditional burial practices. However it quickly developed into the cultural center for Shaarai Tov (Temple Israel). In 1952 the Montefiore Cemetery Association merged with Shaarai Tov and changed the name to Temple Israel Cemetery. Rehabilitation efforts to restore the historic integrity of the porte cochere arch were conducted in 2000.
The colorful Head Start buses always catch my eye when I see them parked together at 4225 3rd Ave S. Parents in Community Action is the nonprofit tasked with operating Head Start programs for Hennepin County. I'd love to talk to the person in charge of coming up with the color palette for the buses and the people responsible for painting the buses. It's the small things in life that make me smile!
Across the street, there is a garage with a curious shape and I'd love to know what's behind the curtain!
Speaking of garages, El Colegio Charter School and its "muralistas" program have painted several garages near 42nd Street & Bloomington Avenue S. El Colegio partners with Bancroft Neighborhood Association to fund and create the murals. Read more about the muralistas program.
The murals on the side of 4200 Cedar Avenue South caught our attention so we crossed the street to take a closer look. The building is home to the Anti-War Committee and the murals were painted in 2015. You learn more about the progression of the mural project on the4200 Cedar Facebook page.
Historic Landmark: Fire Station #13
I've walked by the second historic landmark many times without realizing its significance or its original function. Turns out that was by design. From the City of Minneapolis Heritage Preservation:
Station #13 was completed at a time when the city was experiencing significant population growth and new building construction and fire protection was deemed a critical part of the early modern era of city planning. The new Station 13, completed in 1923, was an important improvement for the area south of 36th Street. It opened just as several public schools and other facilities were completed. The Standish Elementary School (1920-23), Roosevelt High School (1922) and Roosevelt Library (1925) were built in the area’s first years of settlement. Nearly 5,000 new residential units were constructed between 1919 and 1922 in Minneapolis, extending the need for fire fighting services at the periphery of the city limits. In an effort to blend into its residential area, Station 13 was designed as a low, horizontal building with a front yard. Architects Collins and Kennison chose a Craftsman/Bungalow design which concealed the building’s function. Station 13 was a distinct departure from the two-story structures with prominent entries. Station 13 was closed in 1979 as part of the Fire Department’s modernization and expansion. It subsequently housed an emergency medical technician unit. Now occupied with offices, it is only one of a few remaining stations that pre-date World War II.
Few houses face 42nd Street because of how lots are platted. On a future walk with Jason, I hope he'll talk shop a bit more so I can better understand this. Here's a couple homes facing 42nd Street which caught my eye:
One of the neighborhood associations that is fun to engage with on Twitter is Standish-Ericsson (SENA). It doesn't surprise me that they've adopted 19 blocks as part of the Clean City program.
Sometimes timing is everything. An afternoon walk along 42nd Street means that you'll miss out on one of the best donuts in the city - the cinnamon sugar donut from A Baker's Wife.
We stopped at Flag Foods so that Jason could hydrate and we could take a brief rest. It was above 80° and we saw a person wearing a parka! Meanwhile I was getting a sunburn on my calves (don't forget to put sunscreen on your legs!).
The sign says "Hot Diggity Dog!! Big News Coming Soon!!!". I don't know when this sign was added so I'm not sure when to expect the big hot dog news. Anyone know? A visit to their website doesn't provide insight but I'm a fan of the person(s) in charge of their social media strategy (Facebook and Twitter).
After crossing Hiawatha Avenue and the light rail tracks, Jason pointed out the 42nd Street Lofts. I'm not sure I would have noticed this development if I hadn't been with him. Flickr user "mnloftsandcondos" has documented what it looks like on the 42nd Street side and here's a view from Dight Avenue:
Minnehaha Avenue (County Road 48) is being reconstructed from 46th Street South to Lake Street. Here's a photo Jason took at the 42nd Street intersection which has been completed:
After passing 46th Avenue, walkers may notice a shift from numbered streets to named streets. People familiar with the University of Minnesota may recognize the names as those belonging to past university presidents. Andy Sturdevant has documented this unique section of the Longfellow neighborhood for his regular Minnpost feature The Stroll: "Longfellow outlier: Suburbia on the banks of the Mississippi."
Hiawatha Community School Hiawatha Campus is located at 4201 42nd Avenue South and was originally constructed in 1916. The campus design was a “California Plan” school designed by Robert V. L.
At the end of our 4.5 mile walk, Jason and I paused to take a selfie near the Mississippi River along the Grand Rounds Trail. I look forward to future walking adventures with Jason, his wife Karen, and my husband Scott!
Inspiration & Goals