After a torturous, blundering, contentious planning process to route a commuter train from the southwest suburbs into downtown Minneapolis, it’s finally come to this: on May 13, 2019, the Kenilworth Trail will be closed and earthmovers will lumber in a few days later to scrape the corridor clean.
The battle has gone on for almost 40 years (see the October 1984 Hill & Lake Press front page, below), and it’s been epic. The loss of irreplaceable urban woodlands and critical pollinator habitat will be felt by the hundreds of thousands of people who bike, walk, and savor the Kenilworth Corridor’s rare oasis of open-air beauty. The loss will also be felt by the couple hundred thousand Minneapolis residents who will never get to use the train, even though their taxes are paying for it, because this $2-billion mass-transit behemoth completely bypasses the densely populated south side of the city.
Here is the story from the April 26, 2019, Hill & Lake Press.
Here is an August 2009 article, “Southwest Minneapolis’ Transit Route Selection Process May Rule Out Light Rail to Uptown,” from The Transport Politic website, detailing why the Kenilworth route was “the wrong decision.” The reasons from ten years ago are even more valid today. The highlights are mine.
Here is the front page of the October 1984 Hill & Lake Press, with its prescient headline.
True, February 2019 was the snowiest February on record and the fourth-snowiest month since modern record-keeping began in 1885-86. True, shoveling and plowing all that snow is a herculean job. And true, clearing sidewalks on bridges is problematic when the plows throw snow from the road back up onto the sidewalk. But really … four days after the last snowfall and this is what we still have to deal with? Here is the story.
Depends on who you know and whether you’re in the right place at the right time. It kind of slipped out at the February 14 Cedar-Isles-Dean Neighborhood Association that some residents had received letters from the Southwest Project Office informing them that the SWLRT contractor’s subcontractor would be doing a pre-construction status inspection. When several people who live within a stone’s throw of the construction zone asked why they hadn’t received a letter, an SPO spokesperson said you had to live within 95 feet of the construction zone to be eligible. WHAT?!! So if you live 96 feet from the zone and weren’t at the CIDNA meeting, you’d know nothing about this. And when construction of the 60-foot-deep tunnel causes damage to your home, without that pre-construction inspection you’re out of luck. And the SPO wonders why we don’t trust a word that comes out of their mouths. Here is the story.
At noon on Tuesday, July 21, 1953, a time capsule was ceremoniously placed inside the cornerstone of the new Ministers Life Casualty Union headquarters building at 3100 West Lake Street. When demolition of the Ministers Life building began just over 65 years later, in December 2018, anticipation and curiosity ran high: what documents, treasures, and ephemera did those four sober-sided gentlemen choose for generations yet unborn to know them by?
Apparently we’ll never know, because when the cornerstone was removed from the building, the contractors said, there was no time capsule. How does a metal box encased in concrete just … disappear? Do you have any clues? Here is the story.
Here are two articles from the Minneapolis Star about the laying of the cornerstone: July 20, 1953 and July 22, 1953.
Since we were asking for help in solving the mystery of the missing time capsule, it seemed opportune to ask readers for help with the history of two neighborhood landmarks: the little-remembered Leonard’s Flowers and the long-forgotten E.C. Warner mansion, both not much more than 100 feet from 3100 West Lake.
Spoiler alert (March 1, 2019): the story of Leonard’s Flowers arrived a few weeks later from a most unexpected source and will be published in Hill & Lake Press in the near future. Meanwhile, here are two contemporaneous newspaper accounts from July 22, 1961 and May 31, 1964.
How did the four Hill and Lake precincts fare in the turnout sweepstakes? Definitely above average. Here is the story.
Cedar Lake South Beach sits at the heart of the Cedar-Isles-Dean neighborhood. In 2018 a major rebuilding of South Beach was completed. It seemed like a good time to cast our thoughts back 122 years, to 1896, when local photographer William Wallof captured this image of his nephew Paul Wallof III standing at the site of today’s South Beach. Here is the photo and the story.
William Wallof photographed two boys (whose names were not recorded) in a rowboat at South Beach in the 1890s, with the George F. Warner house again in the background. This photo and caption has not (yet) appeared in Hill & Lake Press. Here is the photo.
Fast-forward to 1924. The completion of the Cedar Lake-Lake of the Isles channel in November 2013 had lowered the water level in Cedar Lake by an astonishing five feet, creating the broad sandy beach which these boys enjoyed in 1924 and which we still enjoy today. Realtor and local historian Bob Glancy featured this photo and caption in one of his calendars which delighted Hill and Lake residents for many years. Here is the photo.
The Park and Recreation Board and the Cedar-Isles-Dean Neighborhood Association hosted a grand reopening of South Beach on August 13, 2018. I tried my hand at creating an ad for the pages of Hill & Lake Press. It took hours! Not too bad, and definitely … colorful. Here is the ad.
We stared in disbelief at the Minneapolis 2040 Built Form map, meant to direct development throughout the city: it called for a Corridor 4 district, meaning four-story apartment buildings, on the county-owned land along the east side of the Kenilworth Corridor. Unintentional error? Or a trial balloon from planners intent on densifying the entire city? Either way, Hill and Lake residents pushed back — hard. This is the story.
Thanks to funding from the historic 20-year Neighborhood Parks Plan, approved unanimously in April by the Park Board of Commissioners and the City Council, improvement plans are being developed for all 40-plus park properties in southwest Minneapolis. Here is the story.
In a classic example of the sunk-cost fallacy, Hennepin County commissioners voted on May 31 to give the mammoth Southwest LRT another $204 million. “Given how much we’ve already spent, we can’t stop now” seemed to be the overriding sentiment. Concerns of Calhoun Isles condo tower residents remain in limbo. Here is the story.
Hill and Lake residents packed St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on June 6 with the changes proposed in Minneapolis 2040, the proposed revision of the city’s comprehensive plan, very much on their minds. Although feelings often ran high, the tenor of the meeting was respectful and focused, thanks in large part to the firm and skillful moderating of Shawn Smith, Kenwood Neighborhood Organization board chair. After the meeting I asked several folks in attendance for their opinions. Here is the story.