Planning: 1964 Henn-Lake Study

Featured, Policy — By on April 14, 2012 8:17 am

It was 1964 and Uptown was expected to have a freeway, complete with an interchange at 28th and Hennepin, by the year 1980. Flash forward, there is no highway. Dodged a bullet there.

The City of Minneapolis issued a preliminary study in May 1964 that outlined area trends, statistics, and a few ideas to consider for the area. The preliminary Hennepin-Lake Shopping District Study (download plan – 3.4 MB) started in 1962 as a part of the Community Improvement Program, which looked at many communities across the City.

Below is a general summary of some of the points in the document. I recommend reviewing it if you like to see 1960s design concepts. Sort of reminds me of Southdale’s JC Penny’s meets Cedar Riverside towers and pedestrian walkways.

– City population was 475,000 (nearly 100,000 more than in 2010)
– The plan notices a “densification” taking place by 1960 in the areas immediately south of Downtown, including the Lowry Hill East area.
– Median age was increasing and many people over 65 lived in the areas immediately south of Downtown.

– The highest traffic counts in the City occurred on Lake Street on the north end of Lake Calhoun (approximately 44,000 vehicles per day, compared to 41,000 in 1985, 38,000 in 1995, or 34,000 in 2005)
– A freeway was planned to run across 28th Street from the west side of Lake Calhoun over to Hiawatha and beyond, linking to freeways on Highway 7, Kenilworth trail, 35W, Cedar Avenue, Hiawatha, and 280.
– Study felt parking was in short supply.
– Suggested that pedestrian overpasses over the roads should be considered in part due to high traffic.
– Suggested that with new freeway, most regional shoppers will approach Hennepin-Lake from north so parking and access should consider that in design.

– It was viewed that urban shopping districts were at a disadvantage due to lack of parking, structural obsolescence, and lack of amenities compared with shopping malls. It was stated that “where merchants have remained hitched to the streetcar pattern, the district has languished or failed completely.”
– A license plate survey indicated that the Hennepin-Lake trade area is larger than that of many shopping centers. It also suggests that the primary trade area was Kenwood/Lowry Hill, West Calhoun and into St. Louis Park, Lowry Hill East, and CARAG/ECCO.
– Hennepin-Lake had about 170 businesses and had remained fairly consistent, with many regional, community, neighborhood, and auto-oriented businesses.
– Study recommended that regional businesses should be stand-alone and iconic, while convenience businesses should be grouped and have ample parking.
– Study believed there was a market for a junior department store of 90,000 square feet (about the size of a Target)
– Consider extending 100% corner by building promenade from Hennepin-Lake southwest towards Humboldt-31st.
– Set business district a part from neighborhood to make it unique.

The study also included a concept for how the area could redevelop. Below, I present to you a modernization scheme that really would have changed the character of Uptown.

1964 concept study plan for Hennepin-Lake

This concept plan shows how the Hennepin-Lake area of Uptown Minneapolis could have been modified in the 1960s to improve the shopping district, in the plan's views. Red text on image added by

1964 Concept for SE corner of Hennepin-Lake

This 1964 concept for the SE corner of Hennepin-Lake shows a department store where Calhoun Square is today. A pedestrian walkway would have stretched Hennepin Avenue.

1964 concept for NE corner of Hennepin-31st

This 1964 concept in a City study shows the northeast corner of Hennepin and 31st Street with a department store stretching to Lake Street and a parking lot along 31st. Note the architecture.

Thatcher Imboden

How cities work and change, how they are the product of their inhabitants and outside forces, and the resulting livability keep me thinking and dreaming about the future. I work in transit oriented development and have a background in urban real estate development. I am Past President of an Uptown business organization, grew up in Uptown, was on an Uptown neighborhood association Board, and am an Uptown and Lyn-Lake historian.

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  1. Alex says:

    Wow, interesting. Thanks for scanning and summarizing. I gotta say I kinda like the diagonal promenade idea, except for the massive parking lots.

  2. Nile says:

    I’m glad this didn’t happen.

  3. Marcus says:

    i find it interesting that planning for an area that is supposed to project an areas needs for 20 plus years always fails to take into consideration changes in technology in addition to population and demographics.

  4. Mimi says:

    I read this twice and after reading the comments I am still confused about why the increased traffic flow from the outbound workday commuters was not factored into the long term equation?

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