Reading the Highland Villager #216

[The Villager started as a publication for dense apartments in 1941?]
[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: Ryan Companies reveals what it will and will not include in plan for Ford site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The company who is going to develop the buildings on the Ford site released some plans. They will not be building 10-story buildings, even though they could. There were other details and they had a meeting to tell people about them. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking. The developer is "listening." Properties that weren't included in the site area will not be included in the plans for the site area. There will be affordable housing and some row houses, maybe. There will not be a golf course, Ford museum, or a "corporate campus."  [I imagine that if the "Stop the Ford site people" had gotten there way and watered down the density in the zoning, the plan here would be even less dense.]

Headline: Property tax picture coming into focus with proposed city, county levy hikes; Owners of median-value home in St. Paul will pay a projected 0.5%-18.8% more, but that is without including the school levy
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Property taxes are going up.

Headline: Debate continues over organized trash plan
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is still rolling out the new system for trash collection, which will reduce the number of trash trucks driving around the city. Some people like it, others do not. There is a petition, and groups with acronyms. [As with many things in ad hoc Saint Paul, the existing system worked well for wealthy well-connected folks and less well for those that were not. Not to mention hidden costs. Still, I do think the city's attempts to work with and mollify the existing trash companies means that the resulting compromise is more expensive than it has to be if the city negotiators had held to a harder line about what they were asking for and how they were going to go about it.]  

Headline: Variance approved for 162-unit building at Marshall-Western; Five-Story structures to replace Boy Scouts HQ
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A new apartment building will be built on Cathedral Hill. Neighbors are concerned about traffic, parking, and protruding balconies.  [It was rezoned last December, and these extra levels of approval take a long time. It coulda been built and done by now, with people moving in.]

Headline: Newcomer Nelson wins over Ward 4 in City Council race ["Newcomer Nelson"... how long do you have to live in Saint Paul before you are not a "newcomer"? 10 years? More?] 
Author: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: Quote from second-place finisher, Shirley Erstad: "Ironically, my age and experience made me the insider candidate when, in fact, I was the independent voice willing to as questions of current leaders, many of whom supported my opponent. ... We knew it'd be an uphill battle because I have a record of doing my homework and asking thought questions. MY opponents's DFL and special-interest endorsements meant she revved outside money and volunteers while our campaign was totally grassroots. The part system and politically powerful benefit by having people who stay in their lanes. Identity politics are big right now." [Mitra stays "inside her lane"? That's pretty amusing. I imagine that when she was just exploring running for office, all sorts of people gave her advice about what not to do to win in Saint Paul. I imagine she looks notes, wrote down the list of "what not do to", crumpled up the paper and threw it in the trash, because she did tons of things that conventional wisdom would say you should not do. Anyway, this is to say that it's not "identity politics" that are big right now, but rather a urban equity-focused local-level left politics that are becoming big right now, especially in cities facing a Trumpian landscape. Also, having lots of volunteers are the definition of grassroots. Also, Erstad is / was well connected to "insider" circles of people like St. Paul STRONG and former office holders, etc. Anyway, not great sour grapes here.]  Former Mayor Latimer quoted later as an Erstad supporter, along with a few other old-school St. Paul pols.

Headline: City tees up a story for repurposing Highland Nine-Hole; Requests for more field space prompt a review of gold course's best use
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Parks Dept. is thinking about what to do with a not-very-well-used golf course. Possibilities include soccer fields and other sports. The course used to be an archery range [WHAT!??? WOW! Perhaps this was how Saint Paul neighborhood disputes were resolved before District Councils...] until 1971. There is no timeline. CM Tolbert is involved. [I have an idea for a way to re-use this park, help solve the housing crisis, and raise money for the city to do equity work. Hint: it involves housing.] 

Headline: Mendota's 2040 Plan seeks more development downtown; City of 200 aims for growth in population and a wider tax base
Author: Mimi Geller

Short short version: [Wow, a story about Mendota? Wow.] Apparently Mendota has a comp plan as well. It has 100 pages. [That's half a page for each resident.] They would like to have a new building.

Headline: Ford Parkway condo assn. agrees to replace landscaped buffer; new trees and shrubs will restore privacy of adjacent homes
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A condo association will have to replant threes and shrubs off Ford Parkway. The building was accidentally built too close to the property line many years ago. Neighbors are concerned about "exposure." [Free idea: fig trees with fig leaves on them?]

Headline: UST turns attention to more on-campus student housing; University's master plan suggests two residential buildings on Grand Ave.
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The University of St. Thomas might try and build new on-campus housing on Grand Avenue. They have long promised to try and do that. Neighbors are concerned about buildings being too high and/or buildings being too close to Grand Avenue. [FACT: Based on a study I have performed, students have to live somewhere.] 

Headline: Fire Station 10 earns historic designation
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An old fire station on Randolph Avenue received historic designation. There are plans to convert the building into a brewery and/or coffee shop. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking.

Headline: Upside of downsizing; Mpls. man is living small & loving it with his accessory dwelling unit 
Author: Frank Jossi

Short short version: A guy in Minneapolis lives in a smaller-than-expected home. Article includes extensive interview.

Headline: Support builds for allowing accessory dwellings citywide
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city of Saint Paul might allow ADUs Neighbors are concerned about traffic, parking, and vague nuisance-y things. CM Bostrom is quoted: "People will try to convert these to all rentals." City staff says they have to be owner-occupied. The Summit Hill Association is against it.

Headline: Dynamic signs at Treasure Island/Tria Rink will need to wait
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The old Dayton's cum [architecturally Frankenstinian] hockey rink thing can't have flashy digital signs yet. CMs Tolbert and Thao say the flashy signs would "add to a vibrant downtown" but CM Henningson says they might be a distraction. [I do not think we need a big digital sign at Wabasha and 6th, like at the Xcel. It's a downtown core area, and should have human scale pedestrian scale signage.]  


Signs of the Times #143

 Wood 4 sale

[Yard. Bagley, WI.]

 Squeaky Fresh
Cheese Curds
Friday Afternoon

[Garage. Bagley, WI.]


[Window. Downtown, Saint Paul.]


[Garage. Snelling Avenue, Saint Paul.]


[Minnehaha Avenue, Minneapolis.]


[Location forgotten.]


[Window. Duluth, I think.]


[White board in window. Lake Street, Minneapolis.]


Saint Paul Bicycling Recollections from the Rondo Oral History Project

[House at Selby and Dale, 1900.]
For a project I am working on, I am going through the oral histories collected by the Hand in Hand group and housed in the Minnesota Historical Society archive. These interviewed were conducted from 1997 - 2004, and were the recollections of African-Americans who grew up or lived in Saint Paul's Rondo community that was the site of government-led destruction and displacement for the construction of Interstate 94 in the late 50s and early 60s.

For young people in Rondo, bicycles were a key part of many people's experiences.

Here are six mentions of bicycling from the archive, five men and one woman:

One of the big things was, up until a certain age, you could not ride your bicycle in the street. And naturally, when you get around the corner from your house, you thought you were safe so you would go off the sidewalk and you would get on the street. We lived on Saint Anthony and we would ride our bikes around the block. 
When we got on Victoria or on Milton, we pull right off the sidewalk and get in the street and go down Rondo in the middle of the street and look up and see somebody's mother staring at you, and you knew, "Oh, oh. When I get home I'm in trouble because they saw. They know."  
Everybody had the same rules. So they knew I was under a certain age and shouldn't be in the street. So when I got home, my mother knew all about it. 
[Interviewer]: So they literally told you where you could sit, or if you tried to sit together ...  
We walked in there. We went to sit in the middle of the snack bar, and they explained to us that it was okay for these two to sit there but the rest of us had to go down to the other end. And we kind of looked around, and we realized that White folks were kind of in the middle to the left and Blacks and everything else were from the far middle to the right.  
[Interviewer]: What year again?  
I think that was like the-that was the early Sixties. That was around 1960, '61, something like that. Because we were getting to the point where our parents were letting us ride our bicycles downtown for our little excursions. So we were riding outside of the community more and more and more and expanding our vision, so to speak.  
[Interviewer]: What was your reaction when they wouldn't let you sit together?  
Reaction was anger, but not external anger. You know, I didn't shout, I didn't cuss, I didn't stomp, I didn't beat on anything. It was frustrating that people were trying to drive a wedge between friends and that's how I looked at it. 
It wasn't so much that I gave a damn what they thought. It was that they were trying to separate friends that came in the store together. So they're trying to force us to realize there's some difference there, where we felt that there wasn't

So the values, the character, the integrity, the close-knit connection, the extended family, I mean, we never locked our doors until I got into high school and I was like seventeen or eighteen before I had to carry a key.  
And ninety five percent of people on our block put the key under the doormat, because you were always playing football, or baseball, or bike riding or climbing trees or wrestling, or doing something like that. Or the door was locked and the windows were open. So you just reached over and lifted up the window and climbed in, and did your thing.  
I miss that. It's romantic, it's nonchalant, it's in part naIve, to even wish that, you know, we could go back to "the day" as the kids now call it which means anything happened two weeks ago. But it was part of our culture. Culture is anything that is learned and shared among a given group of people and passed down from one generation to another.  
I was proud of it. I was real proud to pass as much of it along to our kids, as painful as they thought it was. 

[Interviewer]: Did you have any personal experiences with the KKK?  
To tell you the truth about it, I wouldn't know whether I had any personal relationships or anything with them I cause a lot of them around where I was raised up at. I don't know whether they was Klansmen or not. But I know I've had to run many a day to keep from getting beat up for something. 'Cause I always said, if a White man ever hit me, I was gonna kill him. I knowed my life was over with, but I was not gonna let him live and I would run to keep from getting beat up.  
I worked at a little country grocery store there in the little town I was raised up in. I used to ride a bicycle around there delivering groceries.  
So one day, there was a restaurant on this side and here was an alley and a creamery where the people hauled milk. So I come around the comer on a bicycle and this guy was there delivering his milk and I scared his horse. By me turning the corner that fast, the horse made a noise and he started backing up. So I stopped, so the horse stopped. He come out and he was trying to get to me so he could beat me up.  
I turned around, I got on my bicycle and I really made it.  
I went back to the store and I told my boss. I said, "A guy wanted to beat me up. I couldn't deliver the goods to the restaurant."  
He said, "Don't pay him no attention."  
I said, "You'll have to go take it over there 'cause I can't go back"  
So he didn't force me to go back to take it 'til after the man had gone.  
And another time this same dude-not the same dude, they had a big truck And he always backed in that alley to load his milk, a big truck He hauled the milk in that to some other town. I'm coming up on my bicycle, he's coming this way, but he got to swing in the alley over here in order to back in. So I'm going like this, so he got to slow down 'til I pass so he can pull over there.  
Boy, he cussed me out. He said, "You Black So-and-so you. I'm not gonna put on my brakes no more. If you is in my way, I'm just gonna run over you."  
He called me all kinds of names, so I made it on my bicycle.  
But I don't know whether any of them was really Klansmen or what they are. But I've seen them throw Black men-they walk down the street you better get off the street 'cause they will throw you over. They were just terrible. 

[Interviewer]: Who were your friends when you were a youngster? 
I had one friend pretty much that we played together a lot of times as young kids and, I mean, we would be all over Saint Paul, just about, on our bicycles.  
I remember one time, there's a street-well, Dale Street the way it is now is a little different than those days. But we used to go across Dale Street on our bicycles balancing on our handlebars doing flips, whatever, across this busy street. But we always knew where the cars were coming and so forth. And people always used to say, "These kids are going to kill themselves." You know.  
But our bicycles were our transportation all over the Saint Paul area. So that's kind of an early memory of growing up with him. 

[Interviewer]: Now when you moved to 880 Rondo, now is that Oatmeal Hilll or are you still in Cornmeal Valley?  
No, no. I never made Cornmeal Valley. We always lived on Oatmeal Hill. Not that it made any difference to me, because I was always in Cornmeal Valley. [Laughs] Or else I was on the West Side. 
[Interviewer]: What was on the West Side?  
All my friends that played basketball, and all my friends and everything. We'd ride over there and go on the playgrounds and play with the children over there. We had friends over there.  
[Interviewer]: So you would ride from Rondo through downtown?  
[Interviewer]: Would go across the High Bridge or through downtown?  
I still won't go across the High Bridge. No. I would either go across Wabasha [Bridge] or Robert Street [Bridge ], one of the two.  
[Interviewer]: What ages where you that you were riding all the way over there?  
I was a teenager.  
[Interviewer]: Okay.  
But I still had to be in before dark. [Laughs] We all had to be in before dark. Okay? 

[Interviewer]: As you grew up and learned about Cornmeal Valley, how would you describe Cornmeal Valley? 
Well, we actually moved from Rondo to Rice Street after my father-my father showed up about three months later and we moved down on Rice Street, which was kind of different. We lived around a lot of White people. We were the only Black family there. 
Our introduction to some of the Black kids and Black people was when they traveled, because you had to get on the Rondo-Stryker bus to go downtown and most of the people would come by and they'd see this Black family. Black kids playing out there.  
Out of curiosity they'd stop and talk and ask us questions. Did we live down there? And we'd tell them yes. And we got to know people in that kind of interaction, of them traveling, going to work. Some kids walking, on bicycles, going to the movies, coming back and forth, and so we got a chance to have a good interchange, and in that interchange we picked up some friends. We'd go visit up on Rondo with them, they'd come down to Rice Street and visit with us... 
It wasn't all as racist as people try to make it, you know. Racism always been here. It used to raise its ugly head from time to time. If you went over on the East Side, you're going to run into a lot of opposition. You go out in Highland Park, you run into a lot opposition. But generally going around where kids will hang out, with the kind of kids that would show up, they kind of knew what to expect. 

[Farrington and Aurora, 1940.]
[University and Mackubin, 1959.]


Twin City Neon #23

[Northeast Hennepin, Minneapolis.]

[Hudson, WI.] 

[Hudson, WI.] 

[Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis.]

 [Location forgotten.]

 [Northeast, Minneapolis.]

 [Payne Avenue, Saint Paul.]

[Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis.]


Signs of the Times #142

The smoke is just some
pottery in action!

[Fence. West Side, Saint Paul.]


[Window. Downtown, Saint Paul.]


[Sandwich board. North Loop, Minneapolis.]

 Our Last Day Until Sept 1
Sunday 5-28-18 ONLY
We will be
Open 10 to 5
Thank you,
Staff of Grandpa's

[Door. Wabasha.]

Summer Shop Hours

NO-app Needed

[Door. Southern Minnesota or Northeast Iowa.]

 First they came for immigrants
and I did not speak out-
Because I was not an immigrant.

Then they came for the poor and non-contributors
and I did not speak out-
Because I was not poor or a non-contributor.

Then they came for the minorities
and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a minority.

Then they came for me-
and there was no one left 
to speak for me.

[Yard. Marquette, IA.]


[Pole. Glen Haven, WI.]


[Boulevard. Bagley, WI.]


Reading the Highland Villager #215

[A vain attempt at finding the Villager online.]
[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: Ryan Cos. to unveil redevelopment plan for Ford Plant site; Developer discusses possible modifications to master plan
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The company that owns and will develop the Ford site is getting ready to tell people they plan to do. There was a meeting at a church where someone from the company listened to people. Neighbors are concerned about traffic, parking, and density. They might start doing actual work in a year. There will be more meetings. The railroad land is not part of the deal yet. Some changes might happen including some rowhouses or town houses. [Essentially downzoning the nicest parts of the property.] Quote from developer guy: "ten-story buildings feel a bit out of scale to us." [This is vaguely disappointing on one hand, but on the other hand this is actually happening.]

Headline: Mayor proposes 7.6% increase in spending in '19; $606M city budget comes with 11.5% tax increase
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Saint Paul pays for expensive things and services with a property tax. Over half of the budget goes to the police and fire departments. There will be extra money for bike lanes, street maintenance, and an immigrant defense fund. [Also worth noting that a growing tax base means there is less of an increase on individual property owners than there otherwise would be.]

Headline: Hearing set Aug. 15 on allowing accessory dwellings citywide
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city might allow ADUs to be built citywide instead of only in a small section of the city near the Green Line. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking. [True fact: I actually went and testified in support of this proposal this at the City Council hearing. So far there has been one (1) ADU built in Saint Paul, but over a hundred (100+) in Minneapolis.]

Headline: Redesign of Starbucks' drive-thru OK'd at Marshall-Snelling
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Planning Commission voted 11-2 to approve a new site plan that would allow one or two more cars to queue up for coffee in the drive-thru. [I voted against it. I do not think this will solve the general problem of the drive-thru, and believe both the company and the city would be better off focusing on a real site plan that would meet the conditions attached to the permit, which call for a plan that does not dangerously impact traffic patterns. I predict that this site plan tweak will not solve the general problem of people breaking the law and driving dangerously in order to get coffee without leaving their cars. All this is being done in order for a coffee shop to increase profits at the expense of community safety, most especially for people on bicycles. The next step for people who are upset by this drive-thru will be to contact for the City Zoning Administrator to ask him to reconsider the Conditional Use Permit under which the drive-thru is operating, and whether the permit holder is meeting the conditions. His email is: yaya.diatta@ci.stpaul.mn.us.] Starbucks is asking for Ramsey County to change and redesign the street in order to keep people from turning left and to allow for on-street parking. 

Headline: Rezoning OK'd for new 5-story building on site of O'Gara's bar
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council approved a rezoning for O'Gara's, whcih might become a new mixed-use building. [This is an historic building that contains a bar with car doors on the wall, where Charles Schulz' father's barber shop was located.] Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking.

Headline: Lander Group to build 37 apartments on site just north of Minnehaha Park
Author: Bill Wagner

Short short version: An old car repair place is becoming an apartment building over in Minneapolis.

Headline: Gentlemen, start your ... scooters; Council regulates new way to get around St. Paul
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Docklesss shared scooters are now legal in Saint Paul. There will be a "trial period." Article includes descriptions and prices for scooters.

Headline: City requires landlords to inform tenants how to register to vote
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There is a new ordinance on the books now that requires landlords to tell tenants how to register, to make their "best efforts." Quote from a guy who owns a triplex: "the job of encouraging people to vote is better left to yourselves." CM Prince voted no.

Headline: Citizens unhappy with new organized trash system give City Council an earful
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Some people don't like the city's new plans for "organizing" trash collection. There was a public hearing.There is a group called St. Paul Trash. [Amazing self-own.] Some landlords are upset about the rising costs for small buildings, like triplexes. [I hope some of the problems can be ironed out, but it's still a good idea.]

Headline: St. Paul approves variance for relocation fo Big Top Liquors
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A popular liquor store is going to be tornd down for a soccer stadium parking lot, but will move into an old Perkins.

Headline: Pawn American gets license to reopen at University-Fry
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city will let a pawn shop move back into its original location on University Avenue.

Headline: Commission favors plan to turn church into arts venue 
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An old church that was for sale might become an arts venue for concerts and also still a church sometimes. Neighbors are concerned about traffic, parking, and noise. [Seems like a great way to save and re-use a cool old building on Summit Avenue.]

Headline: Central's tiny house could spell big reward; Auction to support students learning construction trades
Author: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: Some high school students built a "tiny house" and are going to sell it.


Twin City Doorways #39

 [White Bear Lake.]

 [North Loop, Minneapolis.]

 [West 7th Street, Saint Paul?]

 [Grand Avenue, Saint Paul.]

 [Viroqua, WI.]

 [La Crosse, WI.]

[Glen Haven, WI.] 



Brutalism Bike Tour next Thursday 8/23

What is Brutalism? For better or worse, you'll find out!

Brutalism is one of the most controversial topics in all of architecture. It was a big trend from the early 60s to the early 70s, an architectural style predicated on the transparent use of exposed concrete. There's much more to say on this topic... and I'll try to say some of it on the tour, but you're welcome to research it on your own and bring questions.

Here are some to start with:

  • Q: Is concrete ugly? 
  • Q: Why does Brutalism loom?
  • Q: What are the connections between Brutalism and the sublime? State power? Bureaucracy? The Earth? Raccoons?
  • Q: Why does Brutalism make people feel like insignificant ants? (Or does it?) And if so, is this a good thing?

This will be a guided bicycle ride to look at brutalist architecture in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Ride will begin at Rarig Center on the University of Minnesota West Bank, and include six (6) buildings designed and constructed in the "brutalist" style.

We're going to look at some of the more interesting examples on a ride beginning at the University of Minnesota.

We're also going to *touch* the concrete of each building in an attempt to sense its essence.

This relaxed-pace ride will end in Saint Paul's Highland Park area, and be about ten (10) miles in length.

I hope you can make it!

What: bike ride to look at Brutalist buildings
Who: Anyone with a bike and good sense
Where: Meet at Rarig Center on the UMN West Bank Campus
When: 6:15pm on Thursday 8/23
Why: Because it's there

[Some potential highlights follow.]


Twin City Shop Windows #18

 [Downtown, Minneapolis.]

 [Payne Avenue, Saint Paul.]

 [Maybe Victoria, BC.]

[Victoria, BC.]

[Probably Seattle, WA.] 

 [North End, Saint Paul.]

 [Troy, NY.]

[Mac-Groveland, Saint Paul.]