TC Sidewalks Live! Noteworthy Dive Bars of Payne and Arcade Walking Tour

[Arcade Bar sign.]
If I could write poetry, I'd name my first book Payne Avenue, because if Payne were a lover, it could shatter your heart. This is the most enchanting street in the Twin Cities, the only place where I lose myself in the wallpaper of the urban room.

The stretch South from Maryland Avenue is the closest thing to Cincinnati's equally spellbinding Over-the-Rhine neighborhood that I've seen. It offers almost seamless rows of 19th century buildings that, everywhere else in town, were half destroyed for parking or 60s notions of progress. On Payne you feel the old city erased everywhere elsewhere.

And what's more, it still half-thrives. In a way, this part of the East Side hasn't changed much in a hundred years. It's still a working class immigrant neighborhood full of problems and promises.

In another way, it's completely different. A century ago, the East Side was home to all kinds of European ethnicites, and today it's a mix that reflects every stripe of Twin Cities far broader diversity. To walk down Payne is to revel in the mix of new and old as the streets come to life with a hundred flags. Bodegas and old Scandinavian shoe stores, linoleum shops and ethnic markets, tacos and hardware, dive bars and high-end cocktails, the site of the former libertarian art park, and the city's premier feminist Wiccan gaelic brewery.

Here is the map:

It's worth noting that Arcade Street has an almost equally wonderful name, and would proably be jsut as riveting if not for its status as a US highway. Here is where you'll find Saint Paul's betta fish shops, the old Arcade Bar, and the site of Governor's
  • What: Guided walking tour of four (4) dive bars on Payne Avenue and Arcade Street
  • When: March 24th, leaving at 6:30 and proceeding until finished, est. 2 hours
  • Where: East Side of Saint Paul, starting at Schweitz's Saloon
  • Why: Because it's there
  • Who: Anyone
  • Cost: Buy me a beer maybe?

 When I was a kid my dentist was on Payne Avenue. I remember looking out the window, sad as a dog on his way to the vet, going past the old Payne Reliever, Saint Paul's best-named late notorious strip club. I hated Payne Avenue then, but I love it now. The dives of Payne are rough around the edges, full of character and sawdust. Let's explore them and walk around some of Saint Paul's finest sidewalks.

[The incomparable view down Payne from the hilltop.]


Adam said...

Rode my bike over to Sidhe yesterday. Should have spent more time exploring the area (there are ghost signs).

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Eric Saathoff said...

Reuben and I presented at the latest PABA meeting, and they voted 19 to 5 to support bike lanes on Payne Ave (without removing parking: 7|5|11|11|5|7). I believe PW wants to install this summer!

MarkB said...

Thanks for a great tour from me and Gary.

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