The plan does little to beautify the street, and some locals take that as a lack of respect for their community. In fact, it may just be a lack of public will to fund anything but the basics.
Ten days ago, I took a ride along parts of the avenue to look at what is there now. Some of these pictures are from a similar trip last year. [Click to enlarge.]
In particular, I wanted to take a closer look at Dickerman Park, perhaps the strangest and most neglected park in the Twin Cities. Its fate illustrates that vision can sometimes get ahead of will; and private generosity can be wasted just as easily as public spending.
In the third photo, I'm standing at one end of the park, looking east down its length, which runs along University between Fairview and Aldine.
The park was dedicated to the city in 1909 by the Griggs, Cooper & Company and Dickerman Investment for “park and parkway purposes”. However, since that time the property has been little used in the traditional sense of a park. Currently, the land is maintained by adjacent property owners and parking lots have been built on a portion of the park. To most, the land appears to be private property.
The Dickerman brothers' donation was not supplemented by city dollars or other private gifts, and the vision of University Avenue as a great boulevard expired right there. A few years ago, the neighborhood got behind a design effort to reclaim the park, it hasn't gotten much beyond the visionary stage, either.
Ironically, across Fairview is an abandoned eatery built in a converted service station. A mural depicts the former streetcar that stopped at this corner and served the historic Rondo neighborhood, which was taken in the late 1960's for construction of I-94. In its parking lot were the remains of some sort of picnic. No litter, just a swahili alphabet book and a foil tray of brats that still looked fresh enough to eat.
Just up the street is the headquarters for the Central Corridor project office. Around the corner from the mural was the former Fresh Anointing International Church, now ABC Mental Health.
My photos don't show street life, because there wasn't any.
If I must draw a point from all this, it would be: We have roughly used this street and this intersection for generations. A rail line might not mean salvation, but I don't think it can hurt.