A midday escape on Lyndale

Most of us who read the Journals travel on Lyndale on a daily basis. It’s one of our thoroughfares. It’s peppered with cafes, grocery stores, hip restaurants, shops, boutiques, apartments, condos and a connection to the Greenway. But other than the two miles from Hennepin to Lake, how much do you really know about Lyndale?

First of all, the name. While many of our major streets are named after religious figures, presidents, or explorers, Lyndale was named after the colonial governor of Rhode Island. Really? Yes, I was as surprised as you. Colonel William S. King (1828–1900), first publisher of the Minneapolis Tribune, congressman, abolitionist, founder of Lakewood Cemetery, and host of an early Minnesota State Fair named his farm near 39th and Bryant after his father, Rev. Lyndon King. And his father was named after Josiah Lyndon, colonial governor of Rhode Island from 1768–1769. It was either a typo or a conscious decision, but “Lyndon” was changed to “Lyndale” and it stuck. Soon Lyndale Farmstead influenced the naming of an avenue, a neighborhood, and became part of our everyday vocabulary.

Lyndale splits into North and South Avenues at the Basilica of St. Mary. The northern part stretches nearly to 694 ending at 61st Avenue North. It travels through residential, commercial, and industrial neighborhoods and crosses major retail nodes along Broadway and Lowry and in Camden.

This afternoon when there was a gentle breeze and sunshine was peeking through intermittent showers, I decided I’d do anything to escape my desk job. I’d had enough. I needed a vacation, but had to be home by six. So I decided to find Lyndale’s most southern point. I know; other people probably have greater aspirations, but it sounded good enough to me. I’d been as far as Lyndale and 494 in Bloomington so I started there.

Bloomington’s famous for Mall of America, but Lyndale is the heart of Bloomington. Here are highlights of this eclectic avenue:

— Toro international headquarter: They just celebrated their 100th birthday —congratulations! (#8111)

— Woodcraft: demos, classes, and tools for whittling to constructing complete kitchen cabinetry (#9125)

— Great Bear Center: fabulous 1960s neon polar bear on shopping mall sign greets visitors to this strip mall with antique shops and more (#9070)

— David Fong’s: serving Cantonese and American cuisine since 1958—one of the oldest Chinese restaurants in Minnesota (#9329)

— Red Wing Shoes: safety toe, soft toe, insulated, waterproof, and custom-made workbooks including the famous Irish Setter. Buy Red Wing and get free oiling and free laces forever. (#9501)

— Duluth Trading: with their fire hose cargo pants, ballroom jeans, and free range underwear their catalog keep everyone in stitches, but you have to see this store to believe it! (#9801)

After passing through Bloomington’s busy Downtown at 98th street there’s only a few more blocks to go. A mostly residential area thickens with lush greenery then Lyndale lowers into the Minnesota River Valley. There’s a small park and boat launch at the river but it closes periodically due to flooding problems. Even though it’s in the shadow of 35W, it’s a very tranquil place compared to the Lyndale I know.

I explored somewhere new, learned things I didn’t know, and escaped for a few hours. That’s what a vacation is all about for me. And all in just a few hours. Back to work tomorrow.

Send your comments or tips to [email protected]ubs.com.