Saturday, September 26, 2009

I Love Alleys

I love alleys, and always have. I've been trying to analyze why, and think it has something to do with the blend of their private nature and utilitarian function. Wandering through a neighborhood's alleys show a glimpse of another world, one completely different from the facade out front. Garages themselves can be interesting, ranging from the architecturally intriguing to the hideously ugly, from the old and decrepit to the updated and modern, as well as all points in between. Nature, too, can be found back there; squirrels, birds, cats, sometimes rabbits or raccoons, not to mention the ever-present lilac bushes and other greenery bravely hugging the property lines and filling the gaps between garages. You can get a peek at people's backyards, some fabulous retreats still visible to the alley, others blocked off by tall fences, and still others unfortunately paved over into unpleasant surface parking lots.

Not all of Uptown's blocks have alleys, but many of them do. I've spent a lot of time in them over the years; walking dogs, pushing strollers, and visiting garage sales. The photos below are not meant to be the best examples of Uptown's alley system, but rather a handful of images that struck my fancy when I went out on a photo-gathering trip earlier in the summer.

Maybe it's because I grew up on a house with an alley view of the Buzza Building (Lehmann Center), but I think those enjoying the view from the alley between Dupont and Colfax should count themselves lucky. I've always appreciated the fact that you can see the beautiful and fascinating historic Buzza Building from blocks away; those who complain about newer tall buildings "blocking the sky" should stop for a moment and realize that the Buzza's tower is pretty tall, yet I've never once heard anyone complain about how it ruins the character of the neighborhood.

One of these days we're hoping to buy a place of our own, and when we do one of the first things we do will be to plan a vegetable garden. In the meantime I'll have to make do with watching the progress of those lucky enough to have sunny space of their own.

Yet another reason I want to buy a home of my own... I really want some backyard chickens. Uptown's chicken population is growing, and these lucky chickens reside in a beautiful red alley-side coop.

This alley (near Bryant Lake Bowl) isn't itself particularly attractive, but I liked how the building is edged with a strip of greenery.

Yet more garden photos; an example of how vegetable gardening doesn't have to be expensive or fancy to be productive and worthwhile.

This garage could use a little work, but I love the architecture. Let's hope it never suffers the fate of an owner who decides to "upgrade" to a massive new structure. I love Uptown's historic garages, especially those with a lot of character.

The garage itself isn't beautiful, but the modern and attractive address numbers add some visual interest. There's no reason the back entrance can't be given the same care and attention as the front of the house, or that garages can't also benefit from a little creativity.

Ever wonder how to best use that small patch of space between two garages? I loved the canoe storage concept.

1 comment:

  1. I too love Minneapolis' alleys. I think my favorite thing about them is that they take all of the ugly, yet necessary aspects of habitations (power lines, driveways and parking spots, blank garage door walls, trash cans) and put them out of view. Walking down a street with alleys (and thus no curb cuts, no front-facing garages, etc.) is significantly more pleasant than walking down one without.