Two New Booklets Now Available! Parking Lots of Minneapolis and Dive Bars of Old Fort Road

I have started transforming my quasi-popular "tours" into actual physical booklets. Yes, these are corporeal objects, to have and to hold, filled with words and photos of varying quality. If used correctly, they can guide you through some of the Twin Cities' finest off-the-beaten sidewalks.

The first three booklets are still available for purchase. In fact, they've gone into a second printing.

These are:

#1 - Noteworthy Bowling Alleys of Minneapolis and Saint Paul
#2 - Noteworthy Dive Bars of South Minneapolis
#3 - Noteworthy Dive Bars of the Midway
[You can still order them! Read about them here.]

In addition to those three, I've completed the two more booklets. Each is 36 pages, black-and-white images, maps, and text, and a cover featuring full-color art.

These two new ones are exciting for me with subjects that lie close to my heart.

Tour Guide #4 -- Noteworthy Dive Bars of Old Fort Road

This is another "dive bar" booklet, featuring the highlights from the 2013 Old Fort Road dive bar tour. That was a while ago, but luckily on West 7th Street, nothing much changes. (OK, so Joe and Stan's has been remodeled...)

Inside you'll find photos, descriptions, factoids, and maps about five of the West 7th Street neighborhood's finest dive bars.

These include: Skinner's, The Spot, Skarda's, Joe and Stan's, and Keenan's.

Here is an excerpt:

The Spot Bar

I am told that the Spot Bar dates back to 1885, which means that the Spot Bar is in a long-running battle with Christensen’s Big V’s, Neumann’s, and Joe and Stan’s for claim to the title of “oldest running bar in Saint Paul.” I’m told that Big V’s keeps a room upstairs with historical paraphernalia just to defend their title. (Difficult to imagine.) And I know the Neumann’s claims an older origin story, though since they are technically in the city of North Saint Paul, they seem to be disqualified. That leaves the Spot with a pretty good claim on the title. 

The first time I went to the Spot Bar, I sat down next to an older somewhat toothless man whose nose was stuck in that day’s Pioneer Press. He was reading the headlines, mumbling softly, and whenever the lightbulb would strike him, he’d start talking to whoever was around about the crazy things he’d found. “Boy, have you heard this one?” Then he’d read the story and say something prosaic bu toothlessly biting. We chatted about the Minneapolis Police Department’s latest semi-self-quasi-homicide with surprise and disdain.

Like all Fort Road dives, The Spot has had a series of names (though the clientele has remained largely untouched). For a while it was owned by a man named Baar, and bore the awkward moniker “Baar’s Bar.” Nobody seems to know quite when it became “The Spot.” During the 30s they served “soft drinks.” You can only imagine...
The most famous barkeep was a man named Michael O’Toole. There is an old painting of the bar from the O’Toole days that sits above the bar. (For reference, its folk art quality reminds me of the old Otter Bar mural on Northeast Central Avenue, or crude also disappeared mural at the Town Hall Brewery.) I was once sitting at the Spot Bar and asked my neighbor about the odd painting, which well captures an atmosphere of rough edges and fellowship. “That’s form the 70s” the bartender told me, “one of our our regulars was the painter.” Then he added, “Frank there, is in the painting, and he’s sitting right next to you.” I turned and looked and there was the man from the picture, same mustache thirty five years later. Same barstool.
[Read much more in the full booklet.]

[An old press clipping on the wall of the Spot.]

Tour Guide #5 -- Noteworthy Parking Lots of Minneapolis

This one is based on my "parking lots" tour from Spring 2015, and features an original drawing by bleak landscape specialist Ken Avidor.

Inside you'll find a few thoughts on the odd intersection of parking lots and Minneapolis, diving into the murky history of the city's obsession with parking lots. Then there's a map, and a description of five of my favorite Minneapolis parking lots.

These include: the Lake Street K-Mart, the Minneapolis Club parking ramp (featured in the movie Fargo), the parking lot at the former Nicollet Hotel site (next to old Gateway Park), the Nye's Polonaise Room parking lot (soon to be an apartment building), and the one-of-a-kind Northeast Bank Parking Lot Park.

Here's an excerpt:
Northeast Bank Parking Lot Park

The strangest parking lot in Minneapolis is surely the Northeast Bank Parking Lot Park, located on the corner of Broadway and Main Street NE, close to the bridge and in the shadow of the old Grain Belt (Minnesota Brewing) building that rises like a fairy tale castle on the edge of the river. Here you’ll find a plain yet elegant bank building that dates to the early 1960s. But next to the bank is the strangest sight in all of Twin Cities parking: a parking lot full of curves, trees, berms, and landscaping.

This is the parking lot park, the brainchild of post-war bank president and parking lot visionary Walter Rasmussen. He grew up in Pelican Rapids and quickly moved to Northeast Minneapolis where, like many of the neighbors on this industrial working-class area, he got involved with labor and began at the bottom. A foundry, a tour in the Navy, a grocery-and-waffle store, real estate, and insurance. Eventually he put himself through school, moved to Edina, and bought the local bank, then located on 13th Avenue (where Dangerous Man brewery is located today).

The new building was built in 1962, but the parking lot was but a gleam in Walter’s eye, and remained so for another decade. By the early 1970s, the capital and the vision was ready to meet reality.
[Read much more in the full booklet.]

[The parking lot park in Spring.]

I daresay, these are both excellent little booklets.

And all for the low low price:
  • $7 each OR three for $20
  • (reasonable!)

You can order them via the Paypal link (simply donate the right amount and add mailing instructions as a comment) or by check (send to Bill Lindeke, 148 West George Street #7, Saint Paul MN 55107).

These will soon available in a few bookstores, if all goes well. And stay tuned because Tour Guide #6 (Noteworthy Dive Bars of Outer Northeast) is coming soon.


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