Twin City Neon #26

 [West 7th, Saint Paul.]

 [Lake Street, Minneapolis.]

 [Grand Avenue, Saint Paul.]

 [State fair.]

 [Grand Avenue, Saint Paul.]

 [Grand Avenue, Saint Paul.]

 [Northeast, Minneapolis.]

[Lilydale, MN.]


Signs of the Times #147


[Wall. Location forgotten.] 


keep the dogs off
lock your bike to the bike rack
Put your ciggie butts in the ashcans
Keep your shoes on the sidewalk

[Sidewalk tree. West 7th, Saint Paul.]


[Door. University Avenue, Saint Paul.]


[Sandwich board. Location forgotten.]

& under surveillance

Call 211 hotline if in need

[Door on tiny house. Lex-Ham, Saint Paul.]


[Boulevard. Location forgotten.]

Women's Rights are Human Rights
NO Human IS Illegal
Love is Love
Kindness is Everything

[Yard. Location forgotten.]


[Sidewalk. Rondo, Saint Paul.]


Reading the Highland Villager #222

[A Villager waits on a Selby sidewalk.]
[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: City ups minimum wage to $15/hour
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: People who do not get paid very much get paid more now. Well, not "now" now, as the raise to $15 per hour is phased in over many many years. It passed unanimously.

Headline: Voters OK $18.6M increase in school levy
Author: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: Property taxes are going up for schools, which are expensive.

Headline: St. Thomas outlines plans for two new dorms; $85M project to being next summer on north campus
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: After years of lobbying by concerned neighbors, the University of St. Thomas is planning to build two new dorms on campus. They will be done by 2020. The school might make on-campus residency required for the first two years. [IMO this would go a long way to solving some nuisance issues, as kids from the suburbs require a few years to learn some basic skills about how to live in a city. Parking is not mentioned in the article, but I have read elsewhere that the new dorms will have lots of parking spots as well, for some reason. I seem to recall that neighbors are sometimes concerned about this issue.]

Headline: UST unveils #12.7M plan to expand chapel, build faith center
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A nice building on the University of St. Thomas campus will be made nicer.

Headline: Ryan Companies stresses need for changes to Ford master plan
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The developer who is probably buying the Ford site wants to make some changes to the zoning, reducing densities along the river and allowing more parking to be built around the retail parts of the project, among other things. City staff like some things and do not like others, as do concerned neighbors. Quote from neighbor who opposed the project originally about the changes: "those have made the plan more palatable to people who otherwise had issues with the development." There is an issue about whether or not Finn Street will go through the project or not, as the street is currently a strip mall parking lot. The little league baseball fields are also mentioned, as being potentially saved [depending a few things that the community would have to do, I have heard, such as et a bunch of money together, keep them open to the public, and make a proper non-profit].

Headline: City Council cites state law in rejecting valid petition to hold referendum on trash collection
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: People who do not like the city's new organized trash collection scheme even though it passed with support from elected officials gathered signatures for a petition to overturn the new contract even though some state laws make it impossible for the city to void such a contract, apparently. The Council voted to not allow a vote on the issue. Quote from seemingly squeamish petition-supporting neighbor about a possible lawsuit: "It's trash. We don't want to go to court over trash."

Headline: Summit bike safety upgrades sought
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: People who like biking but think that Summit Avenue is dangerous want to see improvements to the bike lanes that would make it safer and are asking for the city to spend money on this. A man on a bike was killed by a bus on Summit last year. A city engineer is quoted with a few ideas they could do if they made it a priority, including bigger traffic signal heads, green paint, and left turn arrows.  [They seem awfully marginal, though the arrows would be a good change. Protected bike lanes are not mentioned.] 

Headline: City holds hearing on capital improvements in '19
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There is some money that the city has that could be spent on good projects, like bridges, parks, paving, and other things but they have to compete for them.

Headline: HRA grants $15M in revenue bonds for new Higher Ground upper school
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A charter school got a grant.

Headline: MMAA opens its new space in downtown
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A museum that was closed for remodeling is opening again, on December 2nd.


Join Me for a Book Talk at the Hennepin History Museum on Thursday 12/13

I'm excited to announce that I'll be giving a book reading of my Minneapolis-Saint Paul: Then and Now book -- a quality coffee table book, by the way -- at one of my favorite smaller museums, the Hennepin History Museum, on Thursday December 13th at 2:00 pm in the afternoon, coming up in three weeks.

I really like my book, which is for sale on my website. The talk will be a brief story about how I put the book together, and then an extended discussion of some of my favorite side-by-side photo comparisons, and what I think they tell us about the Twin Cities urban landscape.

I hope you can make it! I will have books to purchase and will stick around to sign them.

If you missed the talk in Roseville, it'll be pretty much the same as that one, only with more Minneapolis stuff this time.

[Plus you can wander around in the great small museum.]


Reading the Highland Villager #221

[A Villager tries to navigate the TJ's parking lot.]
[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: Council to hear arguments over $15 minimum wage mandate
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council will [did] deliberate over whether and/or how to raise the city's minimum wage.  [Note: this passed. The long long phase-in really waters it down IMO. In eight years $15 an hour will mean much less than it does today.] Article includes a chart.

Headline: City staff question changes to Ford master plan; Ryan Cos.' amendments to original master plan face some opposition
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The developer who is developing the Ford site want to change some of the zoning. The city staff working with them like some of the proposed changes, but do not like others. The plan changes will go to the Planning Commission next. [The public hearing will be on January 25th, a long time from now.]

Headline: Council OKs Nelson's amended plan for Marshall rezoning; Approved plan raises maximum height and density along avenue
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council voted to re-zone some homes on Marshall Avenue. Some people liked it, others did not. Neighbors are concerned about the character of the neighborhood. CM Prince voted against the change, quoted "it isn't wise nor healthy [to allow so much density in one area]." [Density is not healthy? Physically, mentally, or morally? This is an old argument with lots of problematic baggage attached.] Article includes lots of detail about specific zoning changes.

Headline: Cafe and spa on tap for renovated Schmidt office building
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An old building part of the Schmidt brewery complex is [finally] being used for something. In this case, a café that will serve pastries and coffee and lunch and soup and also a spa for people to get beauty things done. The Keg and Case building is very near there.

Headline: Carter wants new office to help city's poor find financial success
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The mayor has a plan to help poor people be better with handling their finances.  [That seems rather brilliant. I hope it works. They should open up offices next to every payday loan place.] CM Noecker is quoted saying that they should have specific goals for the office. The budget is very tight, also.

Headline: St. Paul approves annex sale, plans for smaller Pedro Park
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council approved improvements for the "flower field" park area and will have a developer remodel the building next door instead of tearing it down, which was a plan in past years. People who thought the park would be larger are upset. Article includes history of the park proposals over the years. There is a lawsuit in the works.

Headline: St. Paul pedestrian plan to be released, discussed on Nov. 14
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Saint Paul will have a plan for improving walking soon, if it is approved. There is a draft available for people to see.

Headline: Summit-University dog park request runs into opposition
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Neighbors are concerned about plans to build a dog park on Grotto Street. One woman is upset about dog waste found on the fields.

Headline: Merriam Park house used by Catholic order sold for $2.4M
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A mansion on the river used by "Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate" [what? that is the most Catholic sounding thing I have ever seen] was sold.

Headline: Mount Curve residents finally have water service restored
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city has fixed a water man on a street. A cleaning device called a "pig" was used. The repairs took longer than originally intended.

Headline: Electric-powered street bench approved for Ford-Cleveland
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A bench was put on Ford Parkway. It has lights on it. Quote: "The Village has been a n above-standard street lighting district for more than 25 years, so the bench lighting will be added to the cost of operating that district." [OK.]

Headline: Little Grocery becomes a tobacco shop

Short short version: A corner store is becoming a tobacco shop, part of the consequences of the recently-passed menthol ban. [This is probably happening in lots of places. Corner stores are an under-rated part of the urban landscape.]

Headline: Seven-story apartment building eyed for site of Kelly's Depot Bar

Short short version: An old bar and parking lot by the train station might become an apartment building. [Home of a good coney dog.]


Signs of the Times #146

Unusual & Neat
things for sale

[Window. Troy, NY.] 


[Paul Revere. Boston, MA.]


[Door. Boston, MA.]



[Fence. Boston, MA.]


[Pole. Northeast Ohio.]

 FLOWER Basketts

[Wood. Northeast Ohio.]

My name is Zuma and I am lost. Please call my humans if you find me.

[Pole. Medford, MA.]


[Flowerpot. Medford, MA.]


[Fountain. Downtown, Minneapolis.]


Twin City Neon #25

 [Seattle, WA.]

 [Seattle, WA.]

  [Seattle, WA.]

  [Seattle, WA.]

  [Seattle, WA.]

 [Location forgotten.]

 [Location forgotten.]

[Troy, NY.]


Twin City Doorways #43

 [Linden Hills, Minneapolis.]

[New York City, NY.]

 [Payne/Phalen, Saint Paul.]

 [East 7th Street, Saint Paul.]

 [New York City, NY.]

 [New York City, NY.]

 [New York City, NY.]

[New York City, NY.]


The Complete Complex Relationship between Senator Klobuchar and the Minneapolis Skyway

[Thanks to Dylan for digging this up.]
Minnesota's Senior Senator, Amy Klobuchar, was on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert the other night to plug the upcoming election.

On air, the very same seat where Governor Jesse Ventura once impugned the integrity of the Saint Paul street grid, Senator Klobuchar, who once publicly poked fun at my article about TVs in Minneapolis bars, admitted to having a complex historical connection with the Minneapolis skyway system.

Here is the complete transcript, along with the historical documentation and video evidence..

Stephen Colbert: Let's check your Minnesota cred. Have you ever been immortalized in butter at the MN state fair? 
Senator Klobuchar: That is like your Mount Rushmore. For our audience here. What we have at the state fair is a butter carver who sits in her down coat in a revolving refrigerator and carves princess kay of the mile way and her 10 princesses out of butter and does their butter bust, which is of course their heads, out of 90  loud blocks of butter.  
Every day she does a new one with a tiara and that is the biggest thing in our state fair and really in our state. 
But I have not been in there. 
Colbert: I will repeat the question senator. Have you ever been carved out of butter at the Minnesota state fair. 
Klobuchar: Oh very clear I don't want to evade your question. No, because only Princess Kay can. And I've only been Miss Skyway of March of 1988. And so that would not allow.. 
Colbert: You were Miss Skyway? 
Klobuchar: I was 
Colbert: You buried the lede. What is Miss Skyway? 
Klobuchar: That is if you work in DT Minneapolis, as I did in the past, in the private sector, and every month they would pick someone who worked in the skyway to be Miss Skyway. Then you got your picture in the Skyway News. The skyways of course are these glass enclosed above ground tunnels that connect our buildings. 
Colbert:  Because if you go outside in the winter, you will die. 
Klobuchar: That's right. They're like a human habit-trail. And so I got named miss skyway and I got a dinner for two and twelve helium balloons. But no butter carving.

There you go! Human hampster tubes. The 1980s. Winter smoke screens. Everything you could possible want in a national skyway interview.


New Saint Paul and Northeast Minneapolis Flags Available, including a Bannerless 1932 Version

[Pure and simple! The way Gladys made her.]
Despite what they say, I am not immune to the principles of vexillology. I understand the futility of having type on a flag designed to be viewed from two sides.

That's why I am proud to announce that I have some "OG" 1932 Gladys Mittle Edition Saint Paul flags in stock, where the Saint Paul crest is shown without the Windsor font "SAINT PAUL" banner.

They're available in the small 2' by 3' size, on sale for $16.

I also have some new Saint Paul and Northeast Minneapolis large size 3' by 5' flags in stock as well! Get yours today, for the low price of $36.

Click on these links to learn more about the long mysterious history of the Saint Paul flag, or the history of the Northeast Minneapolis flag.

[Compare and contrast with banner and with cat.]


Notable Quotes #12: Mark Twain describes Saint Paul and Minneapolis, c. 1883

We reached St. Paul, at the head of navigation of the Mississippi, and there our voyage of two thousand miles from New Orleans ended. It is about a ten-day trip by steamer. It can probably be done quicker by rail. I judge so because I know that one may go by rail from St. Louis to Hannibal—a distance of at least a hundred and twenty miles—in seven hours. This is better than walking; unless one is in a hurry.

The season being far advanced when we were in New Orleans, the roses and magnolia blossoms were falling; but here in St. Paul it was the snow, In New Orleans we had caught an occasional withering breath from over a crater, apparently; here in St. Paul we caught a frequent benumbing one from over a glacier, apparently.

But I wander from my theme. St. Paul is a wonderful town. It is put together in solid blocks of honest brick and stone, and has the air of intending to stay. Its post-office was established thirty-six years ago; and by and by, when the postmaster received a letter, he carried it to Washington, horseback, to inquire what was to be done with it. Such is the legend. Two frame houses were built that year, and several persons were added to the population. A recent number of the leading St. Paul paper, the 'Pioneer Press,' gives some statistics which furnish a vivid contrast to that old state of things, to wit: Population, autumn of the present year (1882), 71,000; number of letters handled, first half of the year, 1,209,387; number of houses built during three-quarters of the year, 989; their cost, $3,186,000. The increase of letters over the corresponding six months of last year was fifty per cent. Last year the new buildings added to the city cost above $4,500,000. St. Paul's strength lies in her commerce—I mean his commerce. He is a manufacturing city, of course—all the cities of that region are—but he is peculiarly strong in the matter of commerce. Last year his jobbing trade amounted to upwards of $52,000,000.

He has a custom-house, and is building a costly capitol to replace the one recently burned—for he is the capital of the State. He has churches without end; and not the cheap poor kind, but the kind that the rich Protestant puts up, the kind that the poor Irish 'hired-girl' delights to erect. What a passion for building majestic churches the Irish hired-girl has. It is a fine thing for our architecture but too often we enjoy her stately fanes without giving her a grateful thought. In fact, instead of reflecting that 'every brick and every stone in this beautiful edifice represents an ache or a pain, and a handful of sweat, and hours of heavy fatigue, contributed by the back and forehead and bones of poverty,' it is our habit to forget these things entirely, and merely glorify the mighty temple itself, without vouchsafing one praiseful thought to its humble builder, whose rich heart and withered purse it symbolizes.

This is a land of libraries and schools. St. Paul has three public libraries, and they contain, in the aggregate, some forty thousand books. He has one hundred and sixteen school-houses, and pays out more than seventy thousand dollars a year in teachers' salaries.

There is an unusually fine railway station; so large is it, in fact, that it seemed somewhat overdone, in the matter of size, at first; but at the end of a few months it was perceived that the mistake was distinctly the other way. The error is to be corrected.

The town stands on high ground; it is about seven hundred feet above the sea level. It is so high that a wide view of river and lowland is offered from its streets.

It is a very wonderful town indeed, and is not finished yet. All the streets are obstructed with building material, and this is being compacted into houses as fast as possible, to make room for more—for other people are anxious to build, as soon as they can get the use of the streets to pile up their bricks and stuff in.

How solemn and beautiful is the thought, that the earliest pioneer of civilization, the van-leader of civilization, is never the steamboat, never the railroad, never the newspaper, never the Sabbath-school, never the missionary—but always whiskey! Such is the case. Look history over; you will see. The missionary comes after the whiskey—I mean he arrives after the whiskey has arrived; next comes the poor immigrant, with ax and hoe and rifle; next, the trader; next, the miscellaneous rush; next, the gambler, the desperado, the highwayman, and all their kindred in sin of both sexes; and next, the smart chap who has bought up an old grant that covers all the land; this brings the lawyer tribe; the vigilance committee brings the undertaker. All these interests bring the newspaper; the newspaper starts up politics and a railroad; all hands turn to and build a church and a jail—and behold, civilization is established for ever in the land. But whiskey, you see, was the van-leader in this beneficent work. It always is. It was like a foreigner—and excusable in a foreigner—to be ignorant of this great truth, and wander off into astronomy to borrow a symbol. But if he had been conversant with the facts, he would have said—

Westward the Jug of Empire takes its way.

This great van-leader arrived upon the ground which St. Paul now occupies, in June 1837. Yes, at that date, Pierre Parrant, a Canadian, built the first cabin, uncorked his jug, and began to sell whiskey to the Indians. The result is before us.

All that I have said of the newness, briskness, swift progress, wealth, intelligence, fine and substantial architecture, and general slash and go, and energy of St. Paul, will apply to his near neighbor, Minneapolis—with the addition that the latter is the bigger of the two cities.

These extraordinary towns were ten miles apart, a few months ago, but were growing so fast that they may possibly be joined now, and getting along under a single mayor. At any rate, within five years from now there will be at least such a substantial ligament of buildings stretching between them and uniting them that a stranger will not be able to tell where the one Siamese twin leaves off and the other begins. Combined, they will then number a population of two hundred and fifty thousand, if they continue to grow as they are now growing. Thus, this center of population at the head of Mississippi navigation, will then begin a rivalry as to numbers, with that center of population at the foot of it—New Orleans.

Minneapolis is situated at the falls of St. Anthony, which stretch across the river, fifteen hundred feet, and have a fall of eighty-two feet—a waterpower which, by art, has been made of inestimable value, business-wise, though somewhat to the damage of the Falls as a spectacle, or as a background against which to get your photograph taken.

Thirty flouring-mills turn out two million barrels of the very choicest of flour every year; twenty sawmills produce two hundred million feet of lumber annually; then there are woolen mills, cotton mills, paper and oil mills; and sash, nail, furniture, barrel, and other factories, without number, so to speak. The great flouring-mills here and at St. Paul use the 'new process' and mash the wheat by rolling, instead of grinding it.

Sixteen railroads meet in Minneapolis, and sixty-five passenger trains arrive and depart daily. In this place, as in St. Paul, journalism thrives. Here there are three great dailies, ten weeklies, and three monthlies.

There is a university, with four hundred students—and, better still, its good efforts are not confined to enlightening the one sex. There are sixteen public schools, with buildings which cost $500,000; there are six thousand pupils and one hundred and twenty-eight teachers. There are also seventy churches existing, and a lot more projected. The banks aggregate a capital of $3,000,000, and the wholesale jobbing trade of the town amounts to $50,000,000 a year.

[from the final chapter of Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi.]