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BEST PLACE TO HIKE (URBAN) Minneapolis 2002 -

It ain't a walk around the lakes. But if you're looking for a snapshot of where the city has come from--and where it's going--the streets in and around this strange neighborhood might hold the key. Though the river gurgles in the near distance, the Metrodome of Doom is a dead zone; when it's not game day, the acres of surface parking have a postapocalyptic quiet to them. A few blocks east of the Hennepin County Medical Center, the sidewalk comes to an end at the elbow of 35W. Alongside this stretch are some of the loneliest-looking houses known to man. In a city almost bereft of row houses, Elliot Park is home to a few blocks of such residences dating from the 1880s and 1890s. And would any discussion of this area be complete without mention of the Band Box Diner, which is often visited by a hardscrabble clientele who, one imagines, just got their one-week sobriety chip? In a sure sign that things are astir in this bizarre urban grid, rumor has it the Band Box will be the recipient of a $250,000 renovation and makeover (what does that work out to--$25,000 for each seat in the joint?!). With that amount of money, will the restaurant give in to the temptation to scrape the last 68 years of grease off the griddle? Take a stroll and find out for yourself.

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