Northrop is located in the southern part of the city and is bound from east to west by Cedar Avenue and Chicago Avenue and from north to south by 42nd Street and Minnehaha Parkway. As are many neighborhoods in Minneapolis, Northrop is named for its elementary school. Northrop Elementary takes its name from Cyrus Northrop, second president of the University of Minnesota. The neighborhood consists mainly of two-bedroom, pre-1940s stucco, brick and stone houses. It shares with Field, the neighborhood located to the west of Northrop, an active business hub at Chicago Avenue and 48th Street. Restaurants, banks, a theater and other services are located around this busy intersection.
Source: City of Minneapolis neighborhood profile
Jen Williams is my co-worker and friend so I was thrilled that she and her daughter Brynn agreed to show me around Northrop. For pay, Jen is a career counselor and when she's not having a blast with me at work, she can be found "running, biking, hiking, camping, reading, home decorating, photography, and spending time with all the cool people I'm lucky to have in my life". Brynn attends Windom Dual Immersion Elementary School, likes to run and climb (here's evidence) and recently learned to paddle a kayak all by herself! Currently, she is very into playing school and doing lightbox tracing/drawing.
Note: My favorite part of the evening was when I first saw Brynn covered in temporary tattoos from head to toe. The best one was a gas gauge on her belly.
You can follow our footsteps by accessing the Northrop Walk on MapMyWalk.com. Jen and I agreed it would be best to keep our tour focused on a few main highlights so our route covered a small footprint of Northrop. I look forward to returning to learn more.
Before we started our tour, I fueled up on a delicious homemade muffin.
Our first stop on the tour proves that walking the alleys of Minneapolis can lead to interesting discoveries. Garbage services in the City of Minneapolis includes large item collection; making treasure hunting a lucrative adventure for many! Jen and Brynn spotted an old school organ which conjured up memories of Jen's Aunt Letitia, who lived to be 112 (at the time of her death, she was the 16th oldest person in the world).
Something about the above below gas pipes made me view it as a sculpture rather than an eyesore.
As with many neighborhoods in Minneapolis, the homes vary somewhat in architectural style and it is fun to see what homeowners have done to update their mostly 1940's homes to fit present day lifestyles. The below collection shows you that this is anything but a cookie cutter neighborhood.
Whenever I am accompanied by a young person on these walks, I hope to capture their perspective by loaning them my point-and-shoot digital camera. Brynn is quite artistic and observant so it didn't surprise me that she spotted a huge butterfly hanging out in a tree.
Brynn's photo slideshow:
Speaking of being observant, Jen spotted these soda cans placed into the concrete steps. We wondered if they were used as ashtrays? Any other ideas?
I was so taken by the garden plots and patio at Lake Nokomis Presbyterian, I forgot to take a photo of the building! According to their website, they are "A Christian Community of Worship, Hospitality and Sabbath." It seems their garden and patio are a means to their goal of being a welcoming part of the community. I am impressed to learn that they regularly host local art exhibits as well as house an artist-in-residence and use their space for performances and gatherings. Learn more about their approach to worship, hospitality and Sabbath.
After visiting the church patio, we stumbled upon a garden scandal. It appears someone is stealing plants and/or flowers from this garden. What isn't clear to us is the identity of the garden owner since this is on the property of Northrop Elementary School. Anyone have details? Leave a comment!
Northrop Elementary School (now closed), was named after Cyrus Northrop, University of Minnesota's second president. Thought it doesn't appear that construction has commenced, the site is slated for redevelopment by United Properties as Applewood Pointe Senior Coop (2010 press release).
When we started our tour, I was told we would be going to "Bug Park". I had never heard of Bug Park, what could it mean? When we arrived, I definitely understood how it got its nick-name...
I do not know what Applewood has planned for this part of the property but if I were to make a suggestion, I think it'd be a great idea to incorporate a playground into the design. It seems that the senior residents who have grandchildren would value a place for them to ply and it'd be great for neighborhood children to interact with the senior residents. Everyone would win!
After we were done playing at "Bug Park", we walked by a small business cluster at 45th Street and Bloomington Avenue South.
The 'come out and play signs' are from the Bike Walk Move campaign which is "funded through the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot program and administered by Transit for Livable Communities, Bike Walk Twin Cities works to increase bicycling and walking, and decrease driving in Minneapolis and surrounding communities." (source: Transit for Livable Communities).
From the Nokomis Cycle website: Nokomis Cycle has been your neighborhood bike shop since 1994! Every neighborhood should have its own bike shop! Close to home you'll find Nokomis Cycle at 46th and Bloomington. Owner Dwight Gronlund feels quite fortunate to both live and work in the neighborhood. Dwight prides himself on his commitment to quality service and customer satisfaction: "As the owner, I can take as much time as I need to provide quality service for every customer." As both business owner and local resident, Dwight is keenly aware of the reciprocal relationship between neighborly care, concern and good business.
Next to Nokomis Cycle, there is a barber shop and a salon: Vintage Touch and Salon 45. Back in 2007, The Daily Planet wrote an article about Eric Blair, Master Barber and owner of Vintage Touch.
From the Ensemble Music website: Ensemble Music has been serving the local community since 2000. The focus of our center is to bring the joy of family music making to all families with children from birth through age five. In keeping with that mission, all of our classes are inclusive of children with special needs and further, we offer classes with board certified music therapists for children who may need more specific attention.
Jen and Brynn share my interest in cemetery walks. While our walk was self-guided and focused on viewing the large mausoleum (which Brynn calls a castle), many larger cemeteries, such as Lakewood Cemetery in the East Lake Harriet neighborhood, offer guided tours as a way to connect people with the Minneapolis history.
We happened upon this bus parked in a driveway and we're curious to know the story behind it. If you know something, please leave a comment.
We ended our tour with solid advice for living in a city: