Friday, December 7, 2007

Mighty Lake Street

While I've promised to write more odes to University Avenue, I suspect that I'll also end up writing about some of the other major roadways that have done so much to shape the Twin Cities. Think Lake Street, Broadway, Central, Franklin, Washington, and Hennepin in Minneapolis and East and West 7th Street in St. Paul. Today I've got Lake Street on the brain because the folks at the Minnesota Historical Society shared the "Right on Lake Street" exhibit website with me. The website is great--it takes you on a tour of Lake Street from Lake Calhoun down to the river. It showcases some of the existing buildings along the street and when you click on the pulsing brown dots, a new window opens with historical tales and details about the place. Metro Transit also did this great map called "Hop and Shop" that shows the Route 21 bus route going down Lake Street with a bunch of the local businesses identified. Nothing brings more holiday cheer to this nerd's heart than the partnership of local retailers and our transit agency. Seriously.

Anyway, Lake Street is a lot like University Avenue, in that it links so many cultures and neighborhoods. The street has a different personality every few blocks. A couple of years after I left the Twin Cities, Wing Young Huie, did his amazing photo project, Lake Street USA. His photos of ordinary people and places were displayed in the windows of shops along the street. No glamour, just truth. The Walker Art Center has also created an online tour of Lake Street USA--allowing you to click on intersections and see the photos that Huie has taken there. Another great way to see the diversity of the street from your computer screen.

Of course the best way to experience the street is to get outside and walk it (preferably when the temperatures are above freezing). I'm hoping to dedicate several future posts to Lake Street and the role and shape that it takes on as it goes through the neighborhoods of Minneapolis.

Image: Wing Young Huie, "Marquette Bank: Lake Street" from the permanent collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

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