The main post office has been a part of my life since 2006, when I started working at The Emerson School. It takes up a huge swath of land at the northern edge of the Park Blocks, and it sprawls with an assured sense that the postal mail will always be an important part of daily life.
Alas, this is not the case. The mail processing facility has moved out to the airport for better access to the planes and shipping channels. (Though worse access for most employees, probably). And now this entire segment will be redeveloped into some magical bit of mixed-use Portland.
Here’s the view from Northwest Johnson street, where you can see the train station popping up over the mid-century design.
Later, there will be more photos of the front, but you can see where the mail trucks use to pull out for places near and far.
This building sits at the corner of NW 23rd and West Burnside. It used to be the offices of Barbara Sue Seal Properties. I have memories of it from an early age, when we used to come to the Alphabet District when vising at Spring Break/Christmas/Summer
This article says that Barbara Sue Seal started this business in 1983 and was immediately successful. She sold her business in 1997, but still loves doing deals.
This little blue house has always been one of my favorites on this street. But it will soon not be a house any longer.
The house at 1350 N. Watts was built in 1925, has 730 square feet, plus an unfinished basement and a 500 square foot detached garage.
The assessor detail on PortlandMaps tells me that it sold in April for $330,000. It’s prior sale was in 2003 and was for $142,000. (O! If only I could have bought when I first got to Portland!) It sold for $79,900 in 1997 and $26,000 in 1994.
Goodbye little blue house, with the unfortunately pruned apple tree in the front yard. I will miss you.
We turn to the housing development down the street to see how it progresses. We illustrate the progress with blurry pictures (sorry).
This house used to have a full driveway. It now has a skinny sidewalk. As I am concerned about how this development will affect parking in front of my house (which does not have a driveway because I am also part of the problem) this isn’t great news. I assume the house is staying (but perhaps not?) and eventually those two units will be occupied again and will need parking, just like all the new units will.
And when I say “units will be occupied” I mean by rent-paying people. The squatters who have been living in it don’t come with cars. You can see where the trash has been emptied from the house. Again.
A view from the opposite corner. I can’t remember how high this development will go, but it is probable that eventually the house will not be visible.
The Alder Street Food Cart Pod is famous! It takes up an entire city block. Yes! People can walk the perimeter and find a large variety of choices for their meals.
It’s also going away at the end of the month. A luxury hotel and condominium will be built on the block instead.
These pictures were taken from the streetcar, hence the blurry glare.
There has been talk of relocating some of the food carts to a different area of town, maybe the North Park Blocks, or the underused park on Ankeny and Burnside. But nothing has been firmed up. So in a few days, these carts will be gone.
The commercial building that was most recently a garage has been removed, as has the single family house that used to sit next to it. Next up? A 24-unit Habitat for Humanity structure.
And affordable housing is being built on an empty lot at the edge of downtown Kenton.
I’m excited to have both of these developments happening near me.* If there’s one thing this city needs, it’s more affordable housing. As someone who is only a homeowner because of Proud Ground, a housing program for first-time home buyers, I know how much of a difference affordable and stable housing can make in a person’s life.
*Which is not to say I don’t have worries that our easy-to-find street parking will disappear once that 24-unit Habitat for Humanity development is done and occupied. I would LOVE if the City Council would take some steps to establish an on-street parking permit system in Portland neighborhoods.
After the deluge of yesterday afternoon, look what I woke up to:
There was also a “wintry mix” forecast, which I experienced when I took one more walk before checking out of my room. Wintry mix! In May!
I had a bit of time to kill before my flight so I took one last walk of Minnesota neighborhoods.
I found this sculpture when getting to the start of the walk. Note the black framing in pictures is due to my camera’s lens not retracting all the way. I bump it open when I notice, but there are times I don’t notice.
New building going up here.
A grand vista of the art museum.
And a picture of the newer wing.
There were so many good apartment buildings in Minneapolis! I love the arches on this one, and clearly so do the current owners, given the name.
Behind the art museum is a college.
Another of those houses that make me weak in the knees.
I love all three of the signs on this sign. What happened on the 1989 Arbor Day???
In Portland it sometimes it seems that every single block hosts a houseless person. But this was one of the only sign of homelessness I spied in the Twin Cities. I saw people who looked like they were down on their luck, but they didn’t look like they were also living in a tent on the sidewalk or an old RV.
Informational sign telling us of a huge lovely house that is no more.
Look at this little gem!
And across the street this great church!
Some beautiful stone.
And a sort of mini castle.
I loved seeing a few different stages of development here. The three on the left, probably all built around the same time. Then the two on the right, also probably built around the same time. Were they built before or after the freeway was put in? For the first set, definitely before, for the second set, maybe after?
From the looks of that dirt pile, there is a big freeway project happening.
Gorgeous little mansion down the street from my lodgings.
Statue and center that are directly across the street from that lovely little mansion.
Walk over, I packed up. I left the book of neighborhood walks at the house, but first I added notes pointing out the three walks within walking distance of the address.
And then I took the Green Line all the way to downtown St. Paul. On the way there I looked out the window on one side of the car.
On the way back, I looked out of the opposite window.
I learned that I have some St. Paul exploring to do. Its downtown has a great number of beautiful buildings. Also, I saw the MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) headquarters!
After that, it was back to the airport for a flight home.
I killed time between the defense and the big party by talking one of the walks in my walking tours book. This was of the Phillips Neighborhood.
I was staying in Ventura Village, but that’s the next neighborhood over. On my walk to the start of the walk, I snapped a picture of this church, where you can attend services in Norwegian!
When you have too much car for your garage…
Basically, Minneapolis is chock full of houses that leave me weak in the knees. Here is one.
All you need to know about Phillips.
Along with a close-up of the neighborhood boundaries.
Most of the walk was on Park Avenue, which has been redeveloped many times over the years. Thus, it was not unusual to see this lineup:
A grand building of apartment homes, built when that was a thing rich people lived in.
Right next to that, a 60s or 70s development.
And right next to that, a small office building.
Here were also huge mansions, like this one, which is now the American Swedish Institute, which I visited in 2015.
And this one:
And this one, which has moved on to a new life as a mosque. I did like that about Minneapolis. A lot of the grand houses have been converted to office space.
Very fancy looking office space, like this one, which houses the American Indian Services.
I liked the look of this stucco, and couldn’t decide if it was the pattern, or stucco suffering from neglect.
Look at this great church!
And these beautiful houses!
It wasn’t unusual to come across these views of fin de siecle houses with downtown towers looming in the background.
Look at the turret on this house!
It seems that bicycle theft is a problem here too.
Here’s an interesting corner. An older apartment building:
And across the street an apartment tower with its first four stories attempting to blend. This works for me.
And then this other corner with some new contstruction totally blending with a new tower looming in the background.
This is a pretty red house with a widow’s walk.
This might be my favorite picture from this walk. A nondescript low brick building next to a beautiful stone house, with a colorful Hannapin Healthcare buiding nearby and the prow of the football stadium poking up in the back.
I could have spent a solid week wandering through Minneapolis and St. Paul neighborhoods.
The orange sign was hanging on the gate outside the door of the church near my house. Because that church is within 300 yards of a demolition, it got a warning.
I felt very sad, because I thought this beautiful house had escaped the demolition fate. So I took a bunch of pictures.
And then I eventually figured out that the address said Kilpatrick street, not Interstate. Somehow, this house has survived! You can see the temporary chain link fence where they are cutting off the backyard.
Unfortunately, the smaller house around the corner is the one that will be demoed, along with the building on the corner. You can see a picture of these buildings by going to this post. And I suppose that means the lilac tree will also be on it’s way out. I hate to lose a good lilac tree.
You can see what might be coming by reading this post.
The main post office, located next to the train station, is in the process of transformation. The mail sorting operations have moved out by the airport. Eventually the entire building will close and the very large piece of property that caps off the North Park Blocks will be redeveloped into…something.
Right now the retail postal operation is still open, but I figured I’d better grab some pictures while I could.
The business mailing operations have headed out to the new facility so this part of the building is not in use right now.
The building itself is nothing memorable from the outside. It’s a basic, no-frills mid-century that few people will probably miss when it falls to the wrecking ball. But I do love the interior. The long corridor of PO boxes on one side, and the windows that let in the light year round is always a calming experience.
There are many bays of PO boxes. I’d be interested to know how many are currently rented.
These new compartments are for PO box customers with packages. I think they used to hold stuff behind the counter and these are the new system. People who get packages will find the key in their PO box and they use it to access the proper locker.
That closed window to the left of the clock used to be a small business selling snack food items and other sundries. It was run by a blind person for many years.
A blurry picture of the elevator to other parts of the building including a cafe. I assume the cafe is now closed and I’m sorry I didn’t ever visit. I’ve long toyed with a regular feature on cafes hidden in large buildings.
The nice looking letter drop area.
Supposedly, a new post office retail location will open in the vicinity when the main building is closed for redevelopment. I’m sure it will be fine, but I will miss this location, which has served me well for more than ten years.