Join me for a West Side Flats History Tour this Saturday

[Empty street on the Flats.]
My local neighborhood group, the West Side Community Organization, is putting together a biking/walking tour of West Side Flats history this Saturday and you're invited.

I'm a bit obsessed with the history of the Flats, and so it's an honor to be asked to participate in the tour, spread out along a route leading from the heart of the old Mexican neighborhood over to the middle of the Mississippi. There will be four speakers, each of whom has an excellent perspective on some of the history of the neighborhood.

I'll be stationed on the middle of the Wabasha Street bridge, where I'll tell a few stories about the history of Saint Paul's Mississipppi River crossings. Highlights include: how the West Side became part of Saint Paul, the complete history of the city's Mississippi bridges,

(Some of the other stops will focus on the neighborhood's Dakota past, the Flats' Mexican-American and Catholic legacies, and a history of the ever-changing river.)

To look at it today, the Flats seems like a desolate industrial park, which it is. But before 1960 it was a densely populated working-class community that had long been home to the city's immigrant populations, especially Jews, Lebanese, Mexicans, and even my Swiss-German ancestors from five generations ago.

Today, with the old street grid all but erased, it's a challenge to imagine what the old neighobrhood might have looked like. But Saturday's tour will hopefully impart a sense of the recent history of the contested ground across from Downtown Saint Paul.

[Abandoned warehouse in a long-vacant lot on the Flats.]

What: Tour of West Side Flats history with four speakers, biking (4 miles) or walking (2.5 miles)
Who: Anyone, free to the public
When: Saturday, October 1st, from 1 pm to 3 pm
Why: To learn about the neighborhood
Where: Meet at Castillo Park (see also this interactive map); I'll be on the Wabasha Street bridge

[Wabasha Street Bridge in the wintertime.]

See also some other of my writings on the Flats and the Saint Paul bridges:

A post on the Wabasha Street Bridge christening from 15 years ago (!)
Sidewalk of the Week: West Side Flats
Is Bike Counting Quixotic?
Six Thoughts You Have Sitting Next to ... the High Bridge for Two Hours
Reframing St. Paul's iconic High Bridge to fight suicide contagion (Minnpost)
Mind the Gap: the Importance of Bridge Approaches (streets.mn)
Thune and the Port Authority Quietly Neuter Walkability on Saint Paul's West Side (streets.mn)

[The former site of the old State Street "black bridge" over the tracks down to the flats.]

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