Places

The Ford Bridge

The Ford Bridge

As a forbidden summer activity, we enjoyed swimming at the Ford Bridge over the Mississippi River between Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

The Good Ole Days All Over Again

The Good Ole Days All Over Again

Hi there! Everyone talks about the good old days—how they used to be—what a difference from today. Remember when gas was 25¢ a gallon? And cigarettes 26¢ a box with a 1¢ tax? Wow!

Fire on Pig’s Eye Island

Fire on Pig’s Eye Island

Pig’s Eye Island owes its name to a nineteenth-century trader, Pig’s Eye Parrant, who sold liquor and guns along the Mississippi’s watery highway.

Cheesehead

Cheesehead

Conceived, born, and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin—that’s me, Paul Vincent Bartlett, a (displaced) cheesehead. And not of your typical Wisconsin lineage.

From the Beginning: Forums, Theater, and Music

From the Beginning: Forums, Theater, and Music

I grew up in the Dale-Selby neighborhood of Saint Paul. To be more
exact, we lived in the upstairs of a duplex just off the corner of Dayton
and St. Albans, one block from Dale and one block from Selby.

Mears Park

Mears Park

Where I first put my arm around you.
Clad in red coats
and autumn hats,
we walked from the Farmers’ Market,
bags of basil in hand,
then arm in arm.
The dog waited.

Wokiksuye

Wokiksuye

Driving back from the reservation, I cross a small bridge into Saint Paul. I feel the troubled waters. I think of my grandfather’s people,the Dakota. I think of how they lived by the water, how they made fire by the water.

Dancing at the Crossroads

Dancing at the Crossroads

Saint Paul is my chosen home, the place where I feel most deeply that I belong. Now. It has not always been so.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe,
leaning in the mercado window,
make intercession for the West Side.
Mystical rose of yellow, red, and blue,
protect those who journey through
the corners of George, State, and Chavez streets —
New Tepeyac, District del Sol.

Walks with the Chowhound

Walks with the Chowhound

Selby is a chowhound. an inveterate, unrelenting, willfully indiscriminate gastronome of Saint Paul street food. naturally he is named after the street where he lives, Selby avenue, and naturally, when I come to dog sit him, we commence our journeys from that haunt of celebrated eateries, dine-ins, and dessert stops.

Why We Love Our City

Why We Love Our City

New York? It’s nothing.
Saint Paul is more stunning.
No other city can compete.

Park Two

Park Two

What’s this park named?” Owen asked as he clambered up wooden steps.
My wife and I glanced at each other and shrugged.

A Misty Dream of Glacial Saint Paul

A Misty Dream of Glacial Saint Paul

For the past few summers, I have led geology tours around the Twin Cities for community education courses. The tours usually involve features such as caves, springs, and waterfalls.

The Spot

The Spot

We called it “The Spot.”
You could sit and look at the sunset,
watch trains crossing the Mississippi,
rounding the eastern shore of Pickerel Lake.

From Somalia to Kenya, to Somalia to Minnesota

From Somalia to Kenya, to Somalia to Minnesota

I am Hamda Ahmed Essa. I am twenty-two years old, I am single, and I live in the Twin Cities. In 1991 when I was a little girl in Somalia my family and relatives had to run away from the war.

Fabel’s Shoe Store

Fabel’s Shoe Store

On Saturdays when I was a kid, my friends and I took the streetcar—later the bus—to downtown Saint Paul. Sometimes we went to the library, where the wise librarians knew how to help active boys find books that would hold their interest and keep them coming back for more.

From Mears Park in Spring

From Mears Park in Spring

If you are walking on the sidewalk
beside a tall building
and, arriving at a cluster of orange cones, look up

Miss Decides She’s Had Enough

Miss Decides She’s Had Enough

I’ve been here for ages, my power
formed this land right, all curves and banks,
low countryside and limestone bluffs.

Osceola, Osceola

Osceola, Osceola

We were moving to Saint Paul after a year in Ireland, all ten of us packed into a tiny Fiat station wagon for the drive from New York to a big house on an even bigger hill set on Osceola Avenue.

Van Gogh Appears at the Café Amore

Van Gogh Appears at the Café Amore

No chairs fly through the air tonight,
no linseed oil drips from a homemade brush, no argument ensues over process,
for Gauguin does not appear,

I Only Wanted Chicken

I Only Wanted Chicken

I always like to think about the fun one could have around the late 1960s. We could dance the night away. The clubs you could go to if you wanted to dress up or dress down.

A Garden That Changes

A Garden That Changes

Even though it seems like the economy has gone through the wrong tunnel, we as a community have to keep going through the right tunnel. We come together as one, to a place where everyone can pitch in and get something in return.

Imniza Ska (“White Cliffs” of Saint Paul)

Imniza Ska (“White Cliffs” of Saint Paul)

One day in June 2011, my wife, Mary Beth Faimon, and I took a riverboat cruise on the Mississippi River from Harriet Island in Saint Paul. On the cruise, I saw, for the first time, Imniza Ska, the white cliffs that line the Mississippi River.

Rondo Pioneers

Rondo Pioneers

As the Black poet J. Saunders Redding said: The relationship between a people and their history is the same as the relationship between a child and its mother; history not only tells a people where they are and what they are—history also informs us what we still must be and what we still must do.

“The Chug and Deubner Hill”

“The Chug and Deubner Hill”

I grew up in the West End on Arbor Street, by the old Schmidt Brewery. One of our pastimes in the mid-fifties was building and racing “chugs,” which were homemade go-carts, made entirely of found parts—boards, bent nails we straightened with a hammer on the sidewalk, and of course the most cherished find, wheels big enough to use (many baby carriages were wheel-less that summer).

The River Bench Series, Garden Encounter

The River Bench Series, Garden Encounter

The Cherokee Heights Garden Club has celebrated seventy-five years of service. They have faithfully beautified and tended the flowers on Smith Avenue at the High Bridge for years. Returning from a walk in Cherokee Park, I pass by the High Bridge flowerbeds. A...

Ironic Meetings of Ghosts at the Irish Fair of Minnesota on Saint Paul’s Harriet Island

Ironic Meetings of Ghosts at the Irish Fair of Minnesota on Saint Paul’s Harriet Island

The Irish Fair’s site along the pewter-gray, spreading Mississippi beneath downtown Saint Paul on the ample greensward of Harriet Island is majestic and invites celebration. The bustling and music-crammed Irish Fair with its snowy canvas tents, its black-tinted signposts, and plentiful green turf offers an Ireland of the mind to its visitors.

The Zoo at Night

The Zoo at Night

You’re not alone with your sleeplessness. The lion is roaring. There’s a peacock, too, though you didn’t recognize its call until Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom went to India. You’re not alone because a distant siren cues the timber wolves, all of them except the shy ebony outsider, the only one who doesn’t fight over the salami your brother tosses into the Wolf Woods.

All Good Things Are Wild And Free

All Good Things Are Wild And Free

“IN THE MIDDLE of all the chaos of life, a massage,” smiles Andrea Sullivan. She is a practitioner of Shiatsu Anma, Chinese Abdominal Detox Massage (Chi Nei Tsang), Thai Yoga Massage, and Taoist Medical Qi Gong and meditation, and to watch Andrea giving a massage in the moiling farmers’ market is becalming.

Dylan, Spider John, and the Purple Onion

Dylan, Spider John, and the Purple Onion

Dylan, Spider John, and the Purple Onion by Bob Scroggins I got to know Saint Paul and I got to know Bob Dylan because I got to know Bill Danielson. Bill owned the Pink Pizza Shack at Hiawatha and Lake in Minneapolis. In 1957 it was a hangout for me and my friends....

Dating on the Hill

Dating on the Hill

Fifty-two and newly divorced. Sounds like the symptoms for something fatal. I moved to Cathedral Hill and started going to Nina’s Coffee Café for daily dialysis. Out goes the old, sad blood, in comes the new, highly caffeinated stuff. Some of my friends said, “Why don’t you date?” And other friends said, “Forget about dating. Get com- fortable with being alone.”

The Vagabonds of Children’s Hospital

The Vagabonds of Children’s Hospital

I wake up from a deeply sedated sleep; I am scared. I don’t understand my surroundings, nor how I arrived here. I search for a glimpse of familiarity, the eyes of my loving mother, my adoring father’s warm hands. There they are. They tell me they have not left my side in two days. I have given everyone quite a scare. Bacterial tracheitis killed numerous children in 1980. I was among the first in the state to survive. As a mother now, I can almost understand the terror that my parents felt those first forty-eight hours.

Our Lady of Peace High School 1952-56

Our Lady of Peace High School 1952-56

In 1952 I became an O.L.P. girl by default. On the day I was to get measured for my Derham Hall uniform, Mother and Dad told me that I couldn’t go there after all and they immediately took me, in tears, down to Our Lady of Peace High School to register. It was a financial decision. Grudgingly, I joined the 190 girls who made up the second graduating class at O.L.P., which quickly had been dubbed the “Old Ladies Prison” by the boys at Cretin.

The Saint Paul Art Tour You Weren’t Expecting

The Saint Paul Art Tour You Weren’t Expecting

Whether you’re new to Saint Paul, a longtime resident, or simply a visitor, here’s . . . The Saint Paul Art Tour You Weren't Expecting First, let’s take the word “art” and think beyond the museum or gallery wall. (Minneapolis has plenty of both.) How would you...

The Welcoming Energy of Lowertown

The final stop on the new Green line light rail in Saint Paul is historic lowertown: easy to get to, very walkable, and connected by the Morgan, Bruce Vento, and Gateway bike trails. Originally called “lowertown landing,” the port was the first point of access to the...

Slow Boats and Fast Water

Slow Boats and Fast Water

Early in the morning on June 21, 2007, my son Cullen encountered a rowing scull, crewed by five young women in the Saint Paul Harbor and pinned by a heavy current of the Mississippi River. This crew team had misjudged the current and was trapped against the Padelford wharf barge.

Walks with the Chowhound

Walks with the Chowhound

Selby is a chowhound. An inveterate, unrelenting, willfully indiscriminate gastronome of Saint Paul street food. Naturally he is named after the street where he lives, Selby Avenue, and naturally, when I come to dog sit him, we commence our journeys from that haunt of celebrated eateries, dine-ins, and dessert stops. This poses a problem, as Selby is a beagle, a breed that distinguishes itself by a sniffer so acute it can divine a three-month-old pancake-thin squirrel carcass from a snowbank high as a Himalayan foothill…

Five Things to Love about Saint Paul from Someone Who Moved Here from Somewhere Else

Five Things to Love about Saint Paul from Someone Who Moved Here from Somewhere Else

John Moe is the host of Wits, a national public radio show based in Saint Paul. Noted for skimming “the cream off a few decades of local and ­national indie scenes,” the show features writers, comedians, and musicians. John has brought such guests as Fred Willard, Rosanne Cash, Martha Wainwright, and Julia Sweeney to the historic Fitzgerald Theater. A widely published author as well as a reporter, he lives in Saint Paul with his family.

Universe on University Ave

Universe on University Ave

We live in an urban universe
Between street lights, stars, moons and stop signs,
from distant planets unrecognized before we met within
stories of broken barriers spoken by elder OGs of these histories…

Back Again

Back Again

I took my first breath in St. John’s Hospital at Seventh and Maria. That makes me a native Saint Paulite, even though I grew up in the suburbs. In the late 1950s and early ’60s, many suburban parents-to-be chose Saint Paul hospitals to welcome their babies into the world. As a suburban child, it was a big deal to go shopping at the downtown department stores, and each trip we took, my mom never failed to point out St. John’s at the top of the bluff. “That’s where you two were born,” Mom would remind my brother and me. Anytime my brother and I were fighting in the backseat, Mom would remind us that we’d all wind up back at St. John’s if she crashed the car because we had distracted her.

I Remember RONDO

I Remember RONDO

I remember Rondo . . . the streets were cobbled stone.
I remember Rondo . . . 450 was our home.

I remember Rondo—the intersection Arundel Hill,
On one corner the cab station; across the street,
Joe’s Grocery Store . . .
I remember Rondo, and we never locked our door.
I remember Rondo—smiling faces still in my mind

Ocean Floating on the Avenue

Ocean Floating on the Avenue

I was feeling drab one Saturday afternoon in my Midway neighborhood. After a week of nine-to-six computer work in a cubicle and a morning of ticking off the weekly chores, laundry, groceries, scrubbing a few floors, and carting my teen around, what I needed was a pick-me-up. A look at my grubby nails confirmed where I knew I had to go to escape the routine of the dark days of November that were seeping into December and dragging me along.

At the Sparkle Laundromat on Rice Street

At the Sparkle Laundromat on Rice Street

The teenagers are bored, having nowhere else to go, but not wanting to go home to the drab familiarity of housing projects and apartment complexes. We too are directionless, but directionless in the same place and time—between jobs, between loves, between ambitions; we are loitering without intent. Hank Williams echoes from a small dusty speaker, quarters tumble from the change machine, pool balls click with soft indifference.

Open House at the Minnesota ­History Center

Open House at the Minnesota ­History Center

I have been a public employee for nearly a quarter century, in several local and state agencies, doing important yet mundane work that the public never sees. In cynical moments, I have often wondered if anything I do has enduring ­significance. Then in the autumn of 2009 my wife and I attended a special “open house” at the Minnesota History Center.

“Summer Socks”

“Summer Socks”

The summer I turned nine was filled with days spent with my two best friends, Punch and Dell. A day would begin at first light as I slipped through the house like a ghost after pulling on faded shorts and a too-small shirt.

Finding Home: The Journey to Saint Paul

Finding Home: The Journey to Saint Paul

Mother said they already knew
that the communist soldiers
were on their way to her father’s house because he was a provincial governor, he was one of the firsts on their lists. They had many lists.

Tickets

Tickets

A RENOWNED RECYCLER with a long history of community service, Richard Miller writes parking tickets as part of his job as Building Service Assistant for the Minnesota Historical Society.

They Build Ice Palaces There!

They Build Ice Palaces There!

When I was eight years old and living in Pennsylvania, my father took a new job in Minnesota at the Saint Paul Foundry. He and my mother had immigrated to America from Scotland and always spoke lovingly of their hometown of Edinburgh, but work opportunities were better in America.

Workin’ on the Railroad— Dale Street Shops

Workin’ on the Railroad— Dale Street Shops

Driving through the intersection of Dale Street and Minnehaha Avenue, in the Frogtown district, you couldn’t help being impressed by the massive yellow-ochre brick building with the exceptionally tall glass block windows.

Bridge

Bridge

There’s no time in traffic on 35E to honor
a place such as this—my old neighborhood in ruins. In one second my car wheels cover what was once
my brothers’ bedroom with the nursery rhyme floor.

All Aboard!

All Aboard!

My dad James Melvin Young Sr. became a second generation “Red Cap Porter” when his uncle William A. Young retired circa 1949. Melvin was 23 years old when the Saint Paul Union Depot at 214 Fourth Street in Lowertown was the gateway to the world. Working there was the spark that ignited a love for world travel for my dad. There were approximately thirty-six Red Cap Porters employed at the Depot, all African American. Their red caps became synonymous with integrity and reliability. Their work was demanding.

The Telepathic Monkeys at Como Golf Course

The Telepathic Monkeys at Como Golf Course

In 1989 on the first tee at the newly reopened Como Park golf course, after watching my grandfather’s drive slice across two fairways and bank off a tree, I learned that golf is as much educational as it is recreational. “Grandpa, you missed,” I said, playfully jabbing at my hero. “Yeah, but that’s alright,” he replied with a smile. “Hitting a tree is good luck for your next shot.” “Oh!” I gleefully said, while altering my aim for a majestic birch 100 yards away. “Wait,” my grandfather said while he corrected my stance. “It doesn’t work if you try to hit it. It’s like a lucky penny. You can’t put it down and then pick it up.” This made perfect sense to my eight-year-old brain.

Springtime in Minnesota

Springtime in Minnesota

In the spring of 1994, I was a writer in residence for Consortium of Associated Colleges in the Twin Cities. This meant that participating campuses would house me for seven days, and during this time I would do individual and group writing critiques, a workshop, and a formal reading for the entire campuses at St. Thomas University, Macalester College, Augsburg College, Hamline University, and College of St. Catherine.

My Dad’s Love for His Parks

My Dad’s Love for His Parks

My dad, William LaMont Kaufman, was superintendent of Saint Paul Parks for thirty-four years. He dearly loved his job, and because he did, approximately one-third of our childhood was spent in his beloved parks. Como, our favorite, offered so much to children as well as to adults. Our dad taught us the name of each plant in the conservatory and the outside gardens, not only in English but also in Latin. Many Sunday nights were Como Nights, when we sometimes brought a picnic and raced to find Dad’s name on plaques in the zoo and conservatory. But his love for Como extended to other parks: Harriet Island, Phalen, Highland, and his smaller treasures—Hidden Falls, Rice, Irvine, Kellogg, Lilydale, Indian Mounds, Mears, and Newell, among others.

Pig’s Eye Island Adventure

Pig’s Eye Island Adventure

When I was growing up near Mounds Park during the fifties and sixties, fresh milk was delivered to our stoop like clockwork; however, no one came to haul away the refuse. A big, rusty metal drum in our back yard received the trash instead. When it got full, my father lit it on fire. Items you couldn’t burn—bottles, cans, old plastic toys—were driven to the Pig’s Eye Island City Dump. My brother almost always got to go with Dad to the dump, a fact that he lorded over his little sisters. But sometimes we got to go too.

Keys Café

Keys Café

When I lived in California, my favorite restaurant was Tomatina’s. Then I moved to Minnesota, and I went to Keys. Keys is on Raymond Avenue, and it is my favorite breakfast restaurant in Minnesota! Usually, we only go there for special events. Once, my friends from California visited us, and we went to Keys. That was the second time I had been there, and it was better than the first time.

Meridel LeSueur Recalls Swede Hollow Before Prohibition

Meridel LeSueur Recalls Swede Hollow Before Prohibition

Patrick Coleman writes: “LeSueur was perhaps Minnesota’s most famous proletarian writer, so it is not surprising that she wrote about the humble people of Saint Paul’s Swede Hollow. The following selection was written during Prohibition, ushered in by passage of the Volstead Act in 1919.” Extract from Meridel LeSueur, “Beer Town,” Life in the United States: A Collection of Narratives of Contemporary American Life from First-Hand Experience or Observation (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1933); pages 31–33, 40.

The Mounds Theatre and Me

The Mounds Theatre and Me

I’ve lived in Dayton’s Bluff just a few blocks from the Mounds Theatre all my life, but not for the whole life of the Mounds Theatre. It was built in 1922, and I was born twenty-nine years later. The Mounds started out as a silent movie house. It was billed as “The Pride of Dayton’s Bluff.” It had a small stage for vaudeville acts. Local musicians played in an orchestra pit. The first “talkie” was shown at the Mounds in late March 1929—on what would eventually become my birthday. The movie was My Man, starring Fannie Brice. The Mounds was remodeled in the 1930s, receiving air conditioning, an exterior ticket booth, and a fancy marquee.

A Nostalgic Zephyr: William Hoffman on the Old Jewish West Side

A Nostalgic Zephyr: William Hoffman on the Old Jewish West Side

It is difficult to choose from Bill Hoffman’s writings because they are all so compelling. Street by street and door by door and character by character he documented an important piece of Saint Paul—Jewish life on the West Side flats—that no longer exists. Hoffman should be required reading for recent immigrants and for those who have forgotten that their families were once immigrants.

College Park

College Park

My favorite place in Saint Paul is College Park. It’s my favorite place because it’s practically my backyard, where I can go every day, whenever I want. I can play tennis, basketball, football, and a bunch of other really fun sports.

My Mother’s Garden

My Mother’s Garden

Her garden, growing on Germain Street, needed just as much as a baby, every bit of her attention, love, and care. We moved so many times. The house on Germain was the fourth we moved into, but not the last. The backyard of this house was a bit narrow and long and even had a little hill that led to a small woodsy area. Almost every day from spring until early fall, my mother came home to her garden ready to care for it. She threw on her black short-sleeved shirt, navy blue shorts, size five black Old Navy sandals, and a pair of yellow rubber gloves.

Avian Celebrities on Como Lake

Avian Celebrities on Como Lake

We were halfway around Como Lake when I heard it—the long mournful three-tone whistle-cry that grew in volume. I stopped. What is that? What is that? I know that sound. But it was utterly out of context, and I had to think to place it. The bird called again. I stopped Doug and made him take out his earbuds. (He was listening to American Music Club on his iPod.) Doug, I hear a loon!

Rachel’s Trees

Rachel’s Trees

One of my favorite places in Saint Paul is Rachel’s Trees. Rachel’s Trees is a memorial to my sister who passed away a few days after birth. The trees are a small part of Como Park, but they are beautiful. They bloom white buds in the spring. They are only about five feet tall, but they are very important to me. Usually my mom, dad, and I go down to see the trees on my birthday.

Seventh Place: Saint Paul’s  Window on The World

Seventh Place: Saint Paul’s Window on The World

Downtown Saint Paul is rarely accused of being exotic. But hidden right in its midst is a thriving, bustling microcosm of the great wide world. I’m talking about Seventh Place. Only one block long, Seventh Place is Saint Paul’s answer to European pedestrian-only city centers. From the golden entry archway facing St. Peter Street to the frequent bustle of the Wabasha pedestrian crossing, the patterned brick underfoot lifts its denizens out of the workaday world and transports them to an old city square in Nordic Europe, or on days when the farmers’ market is in session, to Southeast Asia.

A Man’s Epiphany at O’Gara’s

A Man’s Epiphany at O’Gara’s

It isn’t as far from Saint Paul to Nepal as you might think it is. This was all brought home to me several years ago, in the men’s room of O’Gara’s Bar and Grill on Snelling Avenue in Saint Paul, where I experienced an epiphany while gazing up at its fourteen-foot-high walls, and saw there evidenced a feat of heroic proportions—surely on a par, for ordinary men, that is, with Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in their conquest of Mount Everest.

The Uptown

The Uptown

In the drama of my family, the Uptown Theatre played a lead role. Sitting in the middle of the block at 1053 Grand Avenue, the theater began as the Oxford in 1921. In 1929, the Uptown was reborn as an “atmospheric theatre” with an Italian motif, stucco walls, faux balconies, stars and clouds on the ceiling, and a brightly lit marquee. In the 1950s, it was again remodeled in mid-century modern style. In 1976, the Uptown turned its lights out for the last time, to make way for a parking lot.

The Best Place in the World

The Best Place in the World

I have lived in Saint Paul most of my life, and I’d say my favorite place in Saint Paul is the St. Anthony Park Public Library. With its many shelves and millions of stories, each one unique, each one special in its own way, there is no place like it in the world. I love going to the library after school for hours on end, looking at the books. The St. Anthony Park Library is unique because of its architecture. The original library, now the adult-teen section, was part of a Carnegie Library built in 1917. It has been updated, and a children’s section, built in the shape of a large dome, was attached to the old building.

Night Light Hockey at Groveland

Night Light Hockey at Groveland

During the cold winter months of Saint Paul, there is a mecca that kids of all ages flock to with religious fervor. Mecca is Groveland, the king of neighborhood ice rinks. Drive down St. Clair Avenue anytime day or night, and witness the packed rinks of pickup hockey, toddlers pushing plastic chairs in a circle, and packs of tween girls in huddles, observing packs of tween boys.

A Seventh Grader reviews Saint Paul classic, Mickey’s Diner

A Seventh Grader reviews Saint Paul classic, Mickey’s Diner

It was dinnertime. Well, actually, it was ten o’clock at night and my mom had just finished a big show. I was hungry, cranky, and tired. “Mom, I’m hungry, where are we going to eat?” I mumbled and growled at the same time. “We’re going someplace special,” she told me as I cranked up the seat warmers and fell asleep on that cold winter night. It was a short drive and she woke me up and dragged me out of the car.

Crosby Lake: The Wilderness in the City

Crosby Lake: The Wilderness in the City

Growing up in the West Seventh Street area of Saint Paul in the 1950s and 60s, in a family with no car, could have limited my adventure horizons, except that tucked away just out of sight, near its west end, lay Crosby Lake—and I was lucky enough to discover it in my teens, when any wildness oasis in the heart of Saint Paul seemed as rich in natural wonders as any of the great national parks out west!

The East Side—A Story of Tradition and Change

The East Side—A Story of Tradition and Change

Follow the sounds of childhood laughter up and over the snowbanks and into Margaret Playground on the East Side. It is 1937, and as you near the hockey rink, you can see a small mob of adolescent boys and girls huddled together or sliding on the ice. They are joining the hockey goals into a small cage. Inside, giggling along with the others, are my grandmother and grandfather.

The Como Lake Community Christmas Tree

The Como Lake Community Christmas Tree

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, something magical happens at Como Lake. Just off the side of the walking path stands a huge pine tree, and one by one, Christmas tree ornaments begin to appear on the branches. These are not the expensive, trendy decorations that you see for sale in matched, color-coordinated sets. No, some of these are the ragtag older ones used for years at grandma’s house.

Saint Paul Hotel

Saint Paul Hotel

It’s 5:15 p.m. in the entryway of the old Saint Paul Hotel. It’s early winter, cold, and snowing. The lights across the street in Rice Park twinkle with the frost and people are rushing in to get warm and have the early evening cocktail at the famous bar where F. Scott Fitzgerald mulled over thoughts of The Great Gatsby. I just talked to the overworked, borderline frantic, new valet-parking operator, and he told me, “It will take a few minutes to get your car, we’re really busy.”

At the Bar Where F. Scott Fitzgerald Drank Gin

At the Bar Where F. Scott Fitzgerald Drank Gin

—even though I drank wine,
and then only half a glass—I felt I
owed it to myself and to the guests
who’d sat politely through the reading
—and to everyone in every
college and university 20th Century
American Literature class
throughout history…

The Club: O’Gara’s Bar & Grill

The Club: O’Gara’s Bar & Grill

Saint Paul, Minnesota: Everyone’s heard the tale of how it was built by drunken Irishmen who are responsible for the nonsensical layout of winding streets. Congruently, everyone who lives or has ever lived in Saint Paul knows that the one thing this city will never be without is its abundance of Irish pubs.

Mickey’s Diner

Mickey’s Diner

Have you ever been to Mickey’s Diner? Well, I have. The first time was about four or five years ago. But I remember it clear as day. It looked like a house trailer. When we got there, I was amazed by how small but cool it was. I went inside, and everyone was nice, joyful, polite, and seemed like they were always in a great mood. We got a booth by the window.

Lady Elegant’s Tea Room

Lady Elegant’s Tea Room

“My favorite place in Saint Paul is Lady Elegant’s Tea Room. Lady Elegant’s Tea Room is special to me because that’s where I had my first cup of tea.” It’s fun to go there because in the back of the room is a wall lined with hooks. On each hook is a different hat. One hat in particular is special to me. That hat is red velvet with a fingertip veil in the front and three red bows on top of each other on the side. I wear it every time I have tea there with my mom, and it’s my favorite.

Saint Paul Skyways = Freedom

Saint Paul Skyways = Freedom

I’m sure there are many who say they love Saint Paul more than any other place on earth, but for me to say that would be an understatement. That’s because living anywhere outside of downtown Saint Paul would be like being in jail. I live in the heart of the skyway system in downtown, and for me it is freedom. You see, I am both deaf and blind.

The Great Escape

The Great Escape

Saint Paul’s iconic Como Zoo has long been a charming, peaceful place to enjoy creatures great and small. But one morning in 1994, the zoo was anything but peaceful. I was working by the giraffes when a vendor came running toward me. Her words were a zookeeper’s worst nightmare: “You better come quick. One of the gorillas is out!”

New Girl in Town

New Girl in Town

Each year, a small group of immigrants makes its way into Saint Paul from a foreign and misunderstood land. They may come for love, jobs, the promise of more house for the money. Willing to face great adversity, they pack their belongings and take a giant leap of faith across the mighty Mississippi. These brave souls move their lives from Minneapolis to Saint Paul. I am one of them; this is my story.

The Wisdom of the Urban Gardener

The Wisdom of the Urban Gardener

Much of her life, my friend Ruthy lived in Saint Paul. She’s passed on now, yet every spring I think of her as the time for planting approaches. I know that when I get down close to the earth and feel the soil with my hands, there’s a sense of connectedness to the living universe that opens my heart as nothing else can.

My Nana is Rolling over in Her Grave

My Nana is Rolling over in Her Grave

Every time I used to drive down Cretin Avenue, just as I got to Selby, and depending on which direction I was heading, I’d point to the left or right and say, “My father grew up at the end of the street. Down there.” Whoever was with me would never look to the right or the left, but would answer, “I know. You always say that.”

Pazzaluna: Good Vibrations

Pazzaluna: Good Vibrations

My husband and I have a favorite restaurant, Pazzaluna, in downtown Saint Paul. The Italian eatery has happy-hour pizza and wine specials that keep us coming back. Even better, its energy is so good that a bad mood can be lifted just by walking in the door. Last week, I realized the source of the good vibes. As they say in real estate: location, location, location. Pazzaluna is located in the same place once occupied by Frank Murphy, a women’s clothing store.

The Date With Danny Kress

The Date With Danny Kress

Remember that date? You know—the one when you were a teen and had so much fun you’ll never forget it? Danny took his gang to Como Zoo. After hours. There was not much to see, since most of the animals were locked up. They went for the excitement of doing something dangerous.

Life seen through two windows on Payne Avenue

Life seen through two windows on Payne Avenue

During the Saint Paul medallion search, the scene under my window was like a movie set depicting the Middle Ages. I saw hundreds of families charging through the park with pitchforks, spades, sticks, and lanterns. They looked like a mob of Viking pillagers.

Skiing on Pike Island

Skiing on Pike Island

In the fall after the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, hundreds of Dakota women and children were force-marched for seven days to Fort Snelling from their reservation in western Minnesota. That winter, over fifteen hundred Dakota were detained on Pike Island below the fort. Under military patrol and with only thin blankets, the prisoners watched this wooded island fill with snow.

I (Heart) Swede Hollow

I (Heart) Swede Hollow

I had just arrived at my new house—the house I bought without ever seeing. In my life, at that moment, that decision made perfect sense. It was a time when things much more unthinkable than buying a house without ever seeing it in person made perfect sense too. An unthinkable world had been my reality for the last year: New Orleans AFTER. I was gone eight years and was just now returning to Minnesota, where I had grown up.

W. A. Frost

W. A. Frost

Whether you are a native Saint Paulite or a transplant, chances are you have a favorite bartender. Saint Paul is arguably short on some things, but people: when it comes to bars, you can take your pick. From the highest order, with oak and marble features, to scratch-off parlors in old working-class neighborhoods, there is a crowd and atmosphere to suit your taste.

The Rebirth of Lowertown

The Rebirth of Lowertown

Welcome to the off-the-clock lives of artists in downtown Saint Paul. Thanks principally to the City of Saint Paul, the former Lowertown Redevelopment Corporation, ArtSpace, the Saint Paul Art Collective Housing Corporation, and local foundations, Lowertown—a district that by the early 1980s had lost most of its commerce and stood semi-abandoned and down on its luck—is thriving again.

Everest on Grand

Everest on Grand

A family cultivates a soaring dream on the southeast corner of Grand Avenue at Syndicate Street, supporting three generations with a business that builds bridges between Saint Paul and the traditional tastes of Nepal. That’s where the Sharmas, who initially came to Minnesota in 1977, run Everest on Grand, the first Nepali restaurant in the state.

Saint Paul Curling Club—A Primer

Saint Paul Curling Club—A Primer

I’d driven by the two-story white stucco building with the Saint Paul Curling Club (SPCC) sign on it at 470 Selby Avenue many times, wondering, “What the hell goes on there?” I must admit, I’m suspicious of anybody who considers sweeping a sport; not even broomball players go so far. But curiosity trumped my skepticism.

Boyd Park

Boyd Park

The Selby-Dale Freedom Brigade, which emerged out of this melange of ideologies, objected to using Kittson’s name for the park on the grounds that this nineteenth-and early twentieth-century entrepreneur was not a fit man to memorialize. Not only had he had at least two and as many as four Native American “wives” before marrying European Mary Kittson, he sold liquor to the Indians and bought their fur pelts for a pittance and sold them for exorbitant amounts. One brigade member said Kittson “personifies the destructive, imperialistic aspect of American history,” and he urged that parks and public buildings be named “for people who have contributed to the struggles faced by those exploited.”

The Turf Club

The Turf Club

The Turf Club is an historic landmark in the Twin Cities music world. One might wonder how this club set in the Midway—the land between downtown Minneapolis and downtown Saint Paul—amongst porn and pawn shops, liquor stores and Ax Man, maintains a name at all. This is not the hubbub of nightlife; no river views, no skyscrapers, no horse carriages or antique fire trucks, no pretty street lights, no Snoopy. It’s University bus stops and Snelling traffic.

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