19.5.07

Lake Street in a Day -- Part 2

The middle third of Lake Street is in many ways the most interesting part of the street. It's what lies between Highway 55 (Hiawatha) and Interstate 35W, and is a main street for many of the poorer communities in South Minneapolis (Phillips and Central neighborhoods). Not only that, but this stretch of Lake has a higher density than the Eastern third (Part 1 here), with much larger (often industrial) buildings, in general, and a number of key corners with a lot of commercial activity (e.g. Lake & Bloomington, Lake & Chicago).

That said, I was struck again at the frequency of dingy car lots along the way. For example, at right is Freedom Auto Sales, one of the more depressing auto vendors thatI saw on my daytrip.

The frequency of old industrial spaces along the route, combined with the density of ethnically diverse populations along the way, makes for a lot of interesting uses of space once you get past the cemetery that runs for four blocks along the route.

From a strictly infrastructural point of view, though, the Phillips neighborhood isn't that different from the Uptown and Longfellow neighborhoods on either side of the two freeways that run through South Mpls. This is a picture of an alley running through a residential neighborhood of two-story wooden homes on decent-sized plots. I love the alleys in Minneapolis. I think they're great, pedestrian friendly spaces that accomplish a number of useful tasks for the city: keeping cars off the streets, keeping cars moving slowly, providing important public and infrastructural spaces for homeowners. This one looks particularly like a roller coaster.


This is a shot of the headquarter site for the Immigrant Rights rally and fast that marched down Lake at the same time we were there. They took one of the street's ubiquitous surface parking lots and turned it into a 10 day rallying point for their cause, complete with crosses (to commemorate the lives of those who died crossing the border?) and tents and microphones and a Catholic shrine. T'was a pretty interesting sight.

This part of the street, between about 14th Avenue and basically all the way to the Interstate, has a number of different marketplaces, including Mercado Central by Bloomington Ave. (the large Latino indoor marketplace), Sabri's mercado by Clinton Ave. (a run-down version of same), and the old Sears Building complex (now called Midtown Global Market). This last is the city's grand scheme, at Lake and Chicago, to attempt to reuse the gigantic old Sears warehouse and turn it into a mixed use center for the neighborhood. Whether or not its successful at this point is a matter for its own post, but given enough time I think the MGM will turn out to be a real asset for the community, and will hopefully help reintegrate some of the money-laden into the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the area around Lake & Chicago is still the center for a number of communities of color. Robert's shoes ("Hardly a Shoe we Can't Fit!") sits on the corner and is well worth a stop for the footloose and fancy free. The only gun shop in the city of Minneapolis sits on Chicago Avenue, right up the block from this abandoned store (pictured at right) whose only purpose seemed to be to sell this one piano that's barely visible past the glare, inside the empty room. Chicago Liquors, the site of many a MPD incident, sits on the corner too. The main question about this area remains: How will the recent amenities -- the Greenway bike trail (@ 29th St.), the brand new streetscaping, the new bus stop/"transit center", and the Sears redevelopment -- how will these infrastructural improvements change the neighborhood, if at all?

Meanwhile, as you walk from Chicago Avenue over to the freeway, it gets progressively more auto-centric and dingy, as would be expected in freeway-proximate places. My favorite detail is the way that 35-W has a bus stop along it, with stairs going up from the Lake Street to the side of the interstate. It's really two different worlds: the world of the pedestrian walking alongside a slew of interesting shops, down a dense, commercial street in a big city, and the world of commuters, eight lanes wide, speeding along at 70 mph and 20 mpg. The come together at this staircase, and you can for yourself how odd the juxtaposition can be.




Update: Obviously that immigrant rights rally has worked wonders with local governments: Yesterday at noon, over two hundred community members gathered at the corner of Lake Street and Bloomington Avenue in South Minneapolis to witness an undetermined Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operation...

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