Merriam Park, Hamline-Midway
Porky’s, the iconic University Avenue drive in closed and was demolished last year. Today’s bike ride took me to the hallowed ground. Details to follow, but first…
Another unbelievable March day when I jumped on the bike, this time headed almost due north on Prior Avenue to the Merriam Park and Lexington-Hamline neighborhoods. Prior Avenue in Macalester-Groveland is primarily residential with a few small businesses and houses of worship.
Mac-Groveland becomes Merriam Park at Summit Avenue and after a few more blocks of homes, Prior becomes almost exclusively light industrial with a smattering of small businesses.
I left Prior just north of I-94 and turned east onto Feronia, which curved north and became East Lynnhurst Avenue. What’s important about this spot is that it contains the remains of the renowned Porky’s Drive-In, a prime hangout and center of University Avenue cruising for some 50 years. Porky’s was sold to Presbyterian Homes, closed in April of 2011, and knocked down, ultimately done in by light rail construction. Porky’s is missed by at least two generations including my family and me.
A few yards from where Porky’s stood is Iris Park, a haven from the traffic and noise of University Avenue. The park didn’t look its best on this March day with bare trees and the pond the resting spot for debris that accumulated over the winter. But better times are ahead.
I ran into Seth, an Edina resident who works at Ramy Turf, in the 700 block of Prior Avenue. He is one of the multitudes missing Porky’s. As we talked, he looked wistfully toward University Avenue and said, “ I took an old GTO out Friday and Saturday nights,
cruised University and went to Porky’s. That was thing to do. They had the best onion rings ever and the chocolate shakes were to die for.”
The northern-most mile or so of Prior Avenue includes more light industrial and business and at least one abandoned factory.
One other building of note is a rather nondescript structure of brick and siding that conceals the hum of activity inside the Celtic Junction. Happenings include Irish dance classes, live Irish and Scottish music and Gaelic Language, Literature and Studies.
Slightly more than a block north of The Celtic Junction marks the end of Prior Avenue.
From there I went west on Pierce Butler Route which quickly turned south, became Transfer Road and then, at University Avenue, Cleveland Avenue. A graying, threatening sky and hunger pangs prodded me to get home directly and to come back another day to fully experience Cleveland and Transfer.
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