Twin City Lamp Posts #11


 [Red Wing.]
[North Loop, Minneapolis.]

[Linden Hills, Minneapolis.]

[Como Park, Saint Paul.]





Twin City Message Boards #15

 [Red Wing.]

 [Red Wing.]

 [Inver Grove Heights.]

 [New Orleans, LA.]

 [New Orleans, LA.]

 [Como Park, Saint Paul.]

 [South Minneapolis.]

[Red Wing.]


The Saint Paul Shibboleth Test

According to Merriam-Webster, one of the meanings of shibboleth is thus:

a a use of language regarded as distinctive of a particular group
  • accent was … a shibboleth of social class
  •  —Vivian Ducat

b a custom or usage regarded as distinguishing one group from others
  • for most of the well-to-do in the town, dinner was a shibboleth, its hour dividing mankind
  •  —Osbert Sitwell

I think it's an interesting concept in any city, but especially in a parochial place like Saint Paul. In particular, I am interested in the relationship between the pronunciation and name of a place and its relationship with belonging. I still remember the first time I went to New York City and tried to go to "Houston Street," for example.

So what are the local shibboleths? What are the places and names that distinguish us from being an insider or an outsider?

I write a quick little sentence that had as many of them as I could think of, and gave it to a few folks to read out loud.

First, check it out and read it to yourself, in your head or out loud:

Now hear the same cloyingly written sentences as read by some other people, historians, newcomers, long- and short-term Saint Paulites.

[Use the arrows after the 'Play' button to scroll back and forth between the five examples.]

The shibboleths in the text are:

and "Pedro"

Some of these shibboleths are hotly debated, some are widely known, some are quite local, and some are mysterious to this day.

Thanks to Andy, Andy, Rich, Erin, and Barbara for your help with this project.


Join Me for a Minneapolis Skyway History Tour on March 10th

[Downtown Minneapolis, c. 1963.]
Mark yer calendar!

I'm offering another tour of the downtown Minneapolis skyway system.  The skyway is one of my favorite topics and I've written about it on this blog often.

I love talking with people about the skyway, even if its usually a frustrating conversation. That's one of the things about architecture and urban design issues. They are so often wrapped up in our perceptions and what we bring to our experience...

So why not experience the skyway again for the first time?

I've given this tour a few times, and it's always been popular. I've learned, for example, that Saturday afternoon is the ideal time for a good skyway experience, and have a two (2) mile route through downtown Minneapolis all planned out. It's mostly indoors, but there are a few blocks that will be out on the sidewalk.

Here's the event plug:

Minneapolis Skyway History Tour
Guided tour of the Downtown Minneapolis skyway system, led by urban geography PhD and writer Bill Lindeke. The tour is a two (2) mile walk through the skyways featuring many of the most interesting, noteworthy, and architecturally compelling skyways in Downtown Minneapolis. 

The Downtown Minneapolis skyway system is the largest in the world. It dates to 1962 and has become the most unique feature of Minneapolis' downtown. This tour will explore the origins and development of the downtown skyway system, including the birthplace of the skyways, the longest skyway, the dullest skyway, the skyway with the most street life, the newest skyway, the weirdest skyway, the most architecturally befuddling skyway, the most beautiful skyway, the skyway through the jail, and more.

What: Minneapolis Skyway History Tour
When: Saturday March 10th, 1:00 - 3:00 pm
Why: Because it's there
Where: Meet in the IDS Crystal Court
Who: Anyone with a ticket

[See some pics of previous tours below, taken by awesome local artist Steven Lang.]


[Limited space available. Get your ticket today!]

Noteworthy Dive Bars of the North End Guide Booklet Now Available!

Hot off the presses, I have a new Guide Booklet completed. It's a good one, too, featuring all the bars from my North End dive bar tour from the summer of 2016. The North End is my old neighborhood, and so this one is a lot closer to my heart than many of the other neighborhood's I've written about.

It features a short essay about the North End, and descriptions, anecdotes, pictures, and bullshit about at least five existing and vanished bars in the North End neighborhood.

Featured bars include: Schroeder's/Geraldine's (now gone), Hoover's, The Foundry, the Half Time Rec, and Ted's Rec up on Larpenteur Avenue.

There's even a bonus feature, a "Dive Bar Wine Guide" written by Dana DeMaster.

The cover art is a lovely painting of Ted's Rec by Rebecca Silus.

Get yours today in the online store!

[The 2016 tour inaction.]


Reading the Highland Villager #202

[A Villager occupying a handicapped spot at the Trader Joe's.]
[Basically the problem is that the best source of Saint Paul streets & sidewalks news is the Highland Villager, a very fine and historical newspaper. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. You basically have to live in or frequent Saint Paul to read it. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free. See also: Three Reasons Why I Re-Blog the Highland Villager.]

Headline: Housing projects proposed for pair of Summit-U sites; Rezonings sought for Boy Scout, Morning Star Church properties
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The old one-story Boy Scout headquarters is probably going to become apartments, and the old one-story church and huge parking lot is probably going to become apartments and maybe a coffee shop or something. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking.

Headline: BZA denies student rental on Marshall Ave.; Landlord neglected to file proper paperwork
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A house that had college students renting it can no longer have college students rent it because the landlord did not register the house, according to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).

Headline: Parking ban proposed as part of Lexington bikeway extension
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The county is resurfacing part of Lexington and [because almost nobody uses the on-street parking there] they are planning on putting in a bike lane. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking, but some like the idea of slowing cars down. [At a committee meeting I attended, I learned the 80% percentile speed here was 38 miles per hour, which is too high. Reducing speeds to non-fatal levels should be a priority for design decisions.] Article includes quote from local bicyclist: "I see bicycles on the street daily." [He is perhaps staring at a reflection of himself in a nearby car window?] There will also be new "zebra-style" crosswalk and traffic signals.

Headline: Legislative wish lists released by city, county, school district
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Local governments are asking the state for lots of things that they probably won't get. Saint Paul's list includes local control issues. Ramsey County's list includes funding for public safety stuff.

Headline: Henningson tapped as Ward 4's interim City Council member; Two candidates emerge for special election to fill out Stark's four-year term
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: CM Stark took a job in the Mayor's office, so his assistant took over. Two woman are running for the office  [with a third also announced since then], and the election will be in August.

Headline: BZA lays over stadium sign variance requests
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The new soccer stadium may or may not get to erect large vinyl signs along their construction fences, depending on what the BZA decides. They also wnat a permanent sign on the stadium grounds. The latter sign might light up.

Headline: Council denies neighbors' appeal of Marshall apartments site plan; Appeal hinged on errors in staff reports, Planning Commission decision
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An apartment building will be allowed to proceed on Marshall Avenue. Neighbors were very concerned about neighborhood character and heights. Quote from developer: I think St. Paul really needs some new, fresh housing options."

Headline: St. Paul widens scope of its rental rehab loan program
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city gives loans to landlords who apply for them to fix up their properties. It hasn't been working too well, so the City is expanding it and making some other tweaks.

Headline: Proposed streetcar on West 7th St. proceeds to public hearing Feb. 20
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There will be a meeting about the potential streetcar on or near West 7th. Quote from woman: "I'm extremely disappointed that the Planning Commission has recommended an alternative without any public hearing." [This particular person attended the Commission meeting with a sign. For the record, the Commission does not have public hearings in cases like this that are simple resolutions. We have hearings for zoning and planning cases. The City Council does have public hearings, however.]

Headline: City scrambling to address shortage in senior housing
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Saint Paul needs more homes for old people [as well as young people and middle-aged people]. There was a meeting to talk about it. Quote from aging expert: "Senior centrs are going the way of the mastodon." [Sounds fun!]


Signs of the Times #135

only love.com
Sick of losing
friends to Meth
and Heroin?!

*Micro Chipping*

[Tree. River Falls, WI.]

There's Live Music
Tonight c.
9:00 pm

[Door. Northeast, Minneapolis.]

STREET (Bush & Third)
Closes at 5:00


[Door. Red Wing.]


Our sign has
been beaten &
bruised. We will
keep replacing this
sign by donating to
Black Lives Matter.
If you care to explain
your criminal
behavior, please leave
a note!

[Black Lives Matter sign. Mac-Groveland, Saint Paul.] 

MY [heart]

[Television. Seward, Minneapolis.]

[metal plate with guy walking arrow and fake button.]

[Pole. Winnipeg, MB.]


[Patio furniture. Winnipeg, MB.]

If you see a child or a young
girl being exploited, please
report it, don't regret it.


[Post. Winnipeg, MB.]


Another Predictable Tragedy Means That West 7th Status Quo has Got To Go

[Sign at St. Vincent's.]
I love West 7th street. It’s one of my favorite neighborhoods in Saint Paul because of its mix of tradition, historic buildings, dive bars, and small businesses.

You only have to look at one block to see the promise of the street. Between Goodrich and Douglas streets, there are five great small businesses in century-old buildings. First, there’s Day By Day CafĂ©, where people in recovery from addiction make and serve you  healthy breakfasts in brightly-lit booths or the delightful (if occasionally snake-laden) back patio. Next to that is St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, a wonderful place where the poor and upper-middle-class alike shop for recycled deals, staffed by the most cheerful bad-joke-telling and accommodating people you’ll ever meat. Next to that is a cute yoga studio (from what I’ve been told), and then Claddagh Coffee, serving excellent roasts and paninis in a former porn video shop. (They have deals for nonprofits and community groups to rent out their basement.) Finally, there’s Sophie Joe's, a sprawling antique mall with nice yet savvy ladies working the counter. (Little known fact: Lindsay Lohan once shopped there.)

That’s just one block, and the whole street boasts great little places with urban history and character in spades. Did you know that there is only one chain on the whole street between Grand Avenue and the 35E? It's the Subway store at Randolph McDonald's by the bridge.

Finally, the West 7th neighborhoods are full of people from different backgrounds that you meet all the time, and the neighborhood has cultivated a culture of toleration that I value. (Well, except for you, Diane.) For example, take the time I ran into Mark's backyard beanbag league, and he offered me a beer and some low country boil. That's the neighborhood in a nutshell.

[If you scramble and panic, you can cross the street at Goodrich, most of the time, sort of...]

[... but if you're vulnerable in any way, you're screwed.]

But as much as I like it, West 7th has a fatal flaw. The street is saddled with a pervasive deadly car culture. The four-lane portion of West 7th is an accident factory, sprawling and chaotic 5- and 7-way corners are red carpets for unsafe turns, sidewalks are sparse, there are no bike lanes, and the crosswalks are complete jokes. The deadly design of West 7th holds the neighborhood back, and is the main reason for the repeated crashes.

Lately, it seems like the crashes are getting worse. The latest crash from a week ago is mind-numbingly sad:
Officers found Tom Corbett, 48, bleeding from his face in the West Seventh Street neighborhood.

He told officers he thought he had slipped on the ice, but given the severity of his injuries and evidence that police found — tire tracks and debris from a damaged vehicle next to him — investigators believe Corbett was struck by a vehicle that drove away, said Steve Linders, a St. Paul police spokesman, on Thursday.

Paramedics took Corbett to the hospital, where he was listed in serious condition on Thursday. He’s being treated in intensive care for a fractured pelvis, eight broken ribs and a punctured lung, said his sister, Cindy Corbett Nelson. He underwent surgery Wednesday for his broken jaw.

Corbett has worked at Cooper’s Foods on West Seventh Street near Western Avenue, where he bags groceries, since 2003. He also lives nearby and was walking home from work when he was injured. Corbett, who has Down syndrome, lives with a family who looks after him, his sister said.

“All the customers love him,” said Chris Streadwick, Cooper’s assistant store manager  “He’s kind of like a neighborhood icon. Everybody knows him.”

Corbett’s family and police are asking anyone with information to come forward.

“He has such a wonderful, pure soul,” Corbett Nelson said. “What happened is obviously life-changing, but we’re hoping we’ll get our Tommy back at some point in time and hoping to get some help from the public to figure out what happened.”

[A look into the window at Cooper's.]
It’s all the more horrid because Cooper’s Foods is one of those classic West 7th institutions. It’s the kind of grocery store that makes you think you’re in a Red Owl time warp from the 1980s. The store has been unglamorously providing food to West 7th neighbors for decades, serving everyone without pretense, and providing jobs for people like Tom who need both understanding and livelihood. There are always baggers working there, cleaning up, adjusting the bouncy balls in the window, and dealing with customers who can sometimes be a bit unkempt.

One key reason that I think we need big changes to West 7th Street is that the existing design is so predictably tragic. You can set your calendar by terrible crashes like the ones that killed Jose Hernandez or Kunlek Wangmo or Alex Mardell. For each of those stories, there are dozens of smaller crashes like Tom's that changed people’s lives forever. Every time I watch an old man walk a dog across the speeding traffic, or an old woman perch herself on the curb in front of Day By Day, I know the street has to change.

[25 projects like the temporary bumpout at Victoria might make a difference.]
There are lots of things the city could do, but personally, I don’t think we’re going to see big safety improvements without the Riverview streetcar project. The kinds of smaller tweaks that might make a difference, like extending the 3-lane road diet further toward downtown, adding pedestrian island medians, adding bumpouts (especially at obtuse corners), or reclaiming some sidewalk space at the most dangerous intersections are great. But any of those kind of things would require determined community effort and hard-to-get funding, and given the long-standing dynamics of the neighborhood conversations where both the business association and the neighborhood groups seem resistant to change, I don’t see that happening without a big project as a catalyst.

I hope that making West 7th safer doesn’t mean the end of the things I love about the street. I think we can keep the great community and also have a street that doesn’t maim its most vulnerable people. It would be great to brainstorm how to achieve that goal, but something has to change. Saint Paul needs to end the deadly carnage.


Historic Dive Bars of Northeast Minneapolis Talk and Reading 2/21 at the Terminal Bar

Thanks to a fortuitous exchange a while back, I have the honor of taking the stage at The Terminal Bar in Northeast Minneapolis to give a brief talk and reading about one of my favorite topics: historic bars in Minneapolis.

I gave a talk on local bar history a few months ago over on Saint Paul's East Side and it was a smashing success, and thought it would be fun to present a similar blab that focuses, this time, on Minneapolis history.

As you might know, Minneapolis' Terminal Bar is one of the treasures of the local dive bar scene, a tribute to its owners Flem and Annette. Flem died a little while ago, but Annette is still holding the fort down and has forgotten way more about local bar history than I'll ever know.

I'll be giving a history talk, then reading from my two booklets, Noteworthy Dive Bars of Inner and Outer Northeast, and then we'll have a Q&A discussion from the stage of the Terminal. I'll also have all of my (in print) booklets available for purchase.

Please come by next week. I'm excited about it and promise it will be fun.

What: Talk and reading about historic bars in Northeast Minneapolis
When: Wednesday 2/21 at 7:30 pm
Who: Anyone, the event is free!
Where: The Terminal Bar
Why: Because I am bored

[Terminal Bar Highlights.]