This time, our gaze turns to the oldest part of the Twin City core, downtown Saint Paul, once home to the riverboats, gamblers, drunks, refugees, and traders who gave Pig's Eye its unsavory reputation.
Here's a quote to whet your appetite, describing (downtown) Saint Paul in 1846:
Almost every house is either a shop or a grocery [a euphemism for tavern] and certainly a grocery keeper cannot complain that he has had no patronage, for drinking whisky seems to occupy at least half the time of the worthy citizens of St Paul’s while the balance of their time is employed in cheating each other or imposing upon strangers.
Since it's very first days, downtown Saint Paul has been ground zero for booze and ill repute, a home for the homeless, a refuge for the shady. And yet, since Father Galtier first planted his boulder, built his church, and re-christened the city to honor of the saintly, downtown has proved a bitter contest. Old saloons have given way to the new offices, the swank hotels, the civilized parks. The downtown dives have moved around and replaced themselves, continually thorns in the sides of the realtors, the police, the building inspectors
Things are mostly different today, mostly "cleaned up" in today's downtown, with its heated real estate market and burgeoning craft culture. All the more reason to search for the dives, lost and found, forgotten and clinging on. We will walk less then two (2) miles, stopping along the way at four (4) actual bars and countless ghosts to experience the few remaining holes in the historic or modern walls of the center city.
Plus, it'll be the first day of winter carnival. We won't be going on the official "Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade", which ends at 6:15, but we'll be making our own version, trying to glean what the moon was like a century back, when dives were prolific in the streets of the city.
|[A downtown Saint Paul saloon in 1910.]|
What: Guided walking tour of dive bars of Saint Paul, past and present
When: Thursday 1/25, departing at 6:30
Where: Leaving from Kelly's Depot Bar
Who: Anyone of proper age and ability
Why: Because some of it is still there
See you then!
|[The carpeted wall of the Hat Trick, decorated for Christmas.]|