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There's no way that we can possibly cover everything happening around bicycling, walking, and transportation in the Twin Cities region. That's why we started a blog network: a one-stop shop to get read all of the bicycling and walking blogs in the area. If you'd like to add your blog to this network, send an email to tlc@tlcminnesota.org. 

GOP War on Cities Begins and Ends with Hypocrisy

Twin City Sidewalks - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 11:14am

[Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers), second from left, cutting a massive road project ribbon.]The low rumbling sound you hear in Saint Paul these days isn't the re-construction of Wabasha Street. It's the continuing attempts to erode the financial solvency of urban Minnesota. This has been going on all session with the strange obsession with anti-urban (and pro-rural?) politics coming out of the Republican-controlled house, but yesterday's article in the Star Tribune about draconian cuts to the state's three largest (and poorest) cities sets a new low bar.

It shouldn't be necessary to point out that Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Duluth are the three cities in the state that are coping with the largest amount of (racially concentrated) poverty, but that's the simple truth. Glancing at map of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and Saint Paul (and a tiny handful of suburbs) are where all the poor people of color live.

[Poor brown people shaded in purple.]Note that this comes on top of the 5-county metro area's attempts to ignore racial inequality by attacking the Met Council's new (and still largely symbolic) recognition of poverty as a factor in transportation spending.  The fact that this small step toward redressing long-standing racially problematic policies is being fought so vociferously makes the race and class dynamics of Minnesota politics surprisingly clear... That is, if you're paying attention.

Simply put, by going directly at the three core cities, the GOP is attacking poor people and people of color. Whatever urban vitality we might have is caught in the crossfire.

Regional and State Policy: Not Dead Yet!

The bigger picture is a policy battle over whether we think about policies at a regional or state-wide level. The LGA program is a recurring political football whereby wealthy cities pool money to give to poorer cities. Along with the Met Council's planning and transportation programs, the metro-area tax-base sharing fund, and the vague Minnesotan predilection for income over property taxes, it's one of the few so-called "Minnesota miracle" programs lingering around since the 1970s.

In the case of a city like Duluth, which is struggling with large areas of poverty and aging infrastructure, and is so cash-strapped that it routinely considers selling off its museum holdings, cutting the city budget is literally undermining the marginal lives of tens of thousands of poor people in Minnesota.

Here's the most eye-opening part of the Star Tribune story:

David Montgomery, Duluth’s chief administrative officer, told lawmakers, “Our entire fire department budget is $14.8 million. We could eliminate our fire department completely and we would still have to find $5 million to cut.”Montgomery said such a massive cut in aid would likely force Duluth to lay off 300 of its 830 employees.Anyone who's been paying attention to Duluth city budgets lately knows that a cut like this would be a death sentence. The same kind of effect would happen in Minneapolis or Saint Paul.

[A sign of things to come if the GOP gets its way.]
The Hypocritical Case of Rogers, MN

[Counties subsidized by the state are colored in red.]The particularly ironic part of the picture is that out-state Minnesota already receives massive amounts of redistributive income from the wealthier urban areas.

If you read the next two paragraphs of the article, you get this precious quote from Joyce Peppin (R-Rogers), the Minnesota House Majority leader:
But House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, maintained that the three cities are getting more than their share of local government aid, known as LGA.“Minneapolis and St. Paul do get a large portion of LGA. I think it’s something that needs to be looked at, frankly,” Peppin said. The city of Rogers does not get local state aid.
It's ironic because Rogers, a tiny exurban town of about 9,000 people, has been by far the #1 recipient of Governor Dayton's transportation spending slush fund, the "Corridors of Commerce" program. As I wrote back in 2014, when Dayton's Mn-DOT back-room list was first revealed, the program is a way to funnel money directly to "key transportation investments", which often means rural roads. For some reason, Rogers, in Peppin's home district, received the lions share:

[$130M in state general fund dollars doing directly into Peppin's district last year.]
I wrote back in 2014 that it seemed stupid to spend so much of the Governor's discretionary transportation budget in and around Rogers, a place that has about as much chance of supporting DFL policies as Charlie Brown has of kicking the football. Since those massively expensive freeway investments, there's been a huge industrial warehousing boom all throughout Rogers and Peppin's district. If you listen to people like Peppin, all that new economic activity is simple reflecting the free market. In reality, it represnts a return on the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dolalrs that have poured into Rogers over the last few years.

The GOP's anti-urban, anti-poor rhetoric should be called out for the race and class war that it is. It's the Minnesota wing of the Scott Walker revolution going on next door. Lets hope this is the last we hear about it.

[Rogers: a great place to play lacrosse and pretend poor people don't exist.]

*** Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Twin City Sidewalks - Fri, 04/10/2015 - 2:00pm
Sidewalk Rating: Pivotal
Now most guys think they know how to drive. But the fact is vary few people know how to drive, they just steer. Everytime I drive down the street I marvel at the fact that there isn't an accident every few seconds. Every day I see two or three people simply run through red lights as if they didn't exist. I'm no preacher but I can tell you this -- the lives that people lead are driving them crazy and their insanity comes out in the way they drive. I'm not here to tell you how to live. You'll have to see your rabbi or your priest or your local whore. I'm here to teach you how to drive. I'm trying to keep our insurance rates down, and to fix it so you can get back to your room alive at night.
[Factotum, Charles Bukowski.]

[The Dickeyville grotto, Dickeyville WI.]

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Dero Designs its First Steel Bike Locker for Secure Bike Parking

Dero Bike Racks - Fri, 04/10/2015 - 11:18am

The Dero Bike Locker™ is ideal for long-term, secure bike parking. Its fully enclosed, all steel construction protects bikes from weather and theft. Dero is proud to announce the addition of the Dero Bike Locker to its extensive product line of bike parking solutions. The Dero Bike Locker is bike security at its best and […]

The post Dero Designs its First Steel Bike Locker for Secure Bike Parking appeared first on .

Reading the Highland Villager #128

Twin City Sidewalks - Tue, 04/07/2015 - 3:11pm
[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. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.] 


Headline: St. Paul approves historic bike plan; From Grand Round to downtown, effort would double current paths
Author: Jane McClure
 
Short short version: "Bicyclists are beaming, but downtown businesses remain concerned..." Article about unanimous passage of the [long in the works] city bike plan at the mid-March City council meeting. Article includes description of plan's details, including the # of miles and some of the routes. Article includes rough synopsis of council and public discussion, emphasizing opponents who are concerned about how bicycle paths might "take away customer parking." [The Villager gives short shrift to the supporters, placing their comments at the end, despite the fact that the testimony at the meeting was 3-4:1 in support of the bike plan and that it passed unanimously. To see the full testimony, including the short speech by yours truly, check out the video online here.] For example: "Keys Cafe owners Carol Gregory said the 'real and legitimate concerns' of downtown businesses have been ignored." [Personally I'm really and legitimately interested in these concerns, and I'm being serious. Is the problem that there it's too hard to park downtown, or too expensive to park downtown?]

Headline: Ward 3 home design standards are rewritten for entire city; Area residents worry citywide hearing will delay rules' adoption
Author: Jane McClure
 
Short short version: The city has studied how to initiate rules that will limit and/or shape teardown construction in Saint Paul, which is focused in Ward 3 [e.g. the city's largest wealthy area]. The debate at the Planning Commission was about whether to have rules apply only to Ward 3 or to the city as a whole. Neighborhood groups are worried that any delay will allow more homes to be torn down. Article repeatedly cites "houses that are viewed as out of character or out of scale with neighboring homes." [Character is notoriously hard to define, and the city's study tries valiantly to accomplish this impossible feat.] The study's suggestions include regulating total lot coverage, "sidewall articulation" [whatever that is], minimum coverage of doors and windows. There will be a full hearing and this issue will come up again. [I was not at this particular meeting because I was out of town.]

Headline: Redevelopment bug spreading from Selby-Snelling to Marshall; new retail shops and housing eyed for Marshall east of Snelling [If redevelopment is like a virus, reading the Villager is like a flu shot?]
Author: Jane McClure
 
Short short version: A parking lot/drive-thru coffee shop, three single family homes, a warehouse and a vacant commercial building might become something else such as a townhouse or apartments or new buildings, but nobody really knows what. There is some debate about whether a new Starbucks may or may not have a drive thru, but it is not zoned for a drive thru. [Saint Paul needs more drive-thrus. The new Culvers on University Avenue has really revolutionized the Midway neighborhood.] The neighborhood group doesn't want a drive thru. Nothing has actually been proposed yet. "Union PArk committee members agree the site has potential but also noted several drawbacks." [Great story here.]

Headline: Despite revisions, residents still raising concerns over Cleveland Ave. building
Author: Jane McClure
 
Short short version: A developer is trying to build a four-story mixed-use building on the site of an realty office in Highland Park but nobody is happy bout it because "many neighbors still believe the building would be too tall and too dense."There was a meeting about it. The local neighborhood committee made no recommendation. The developer has set back taller stories to attempt to please neighbors. There will be 111 parking spaces, "more than the 93 required by the city." Concerns raised include "early-morning trash collection", "gatherings on decks", "tenants being able to look out into yards and homes", [here it is folks, the one you've been waiting for] "potential traffic and parking impacts." Quote from neighbor: "It's going to be a nightmare." A public works engineer is quoted saying "the development is not expected to have the impact on traffic that neighbors fear."

Headline: City to resurface St. Clair this summer; New asphalt will be laid from Snelling to Victoria
Author: Jane McClure
 
Short short version: A street will get new asphalt. Article includes details about assessments.

Headline: St. PAul calls up new cellular antenna regs
Author: Jane McClure
 
Short short version: The Planning Commission approved new rules for cell towers that will make it easier to add antennas on buildings where antennas already exist. [It's kind of a deep philosohpical problem.]

Headline: Riverview Corridor study at crossroads on public outreach
Author: Jane McClure
 
Short short version: The County [which is leading the study of a transit potential of West 7th Street and its greater environs] is still trying to get input from the public. Article includes quote by CM Thune: "People are going to die of boredom before we get done." [Not if they're in the living nightmare that is Highland Village with a four-story building in it...] Article includes details of outreach from the study, which goes back at least a year, and in fact goes back ten years. Article includes quote from one committee member: "I'm personally convinced that more input is better." [The people involved are trying to reach non-jaded Saint Paul-ites with flexible worldviews, apparently, which takes a lot of work. I guess people like that are hard to find?]

Headline: St. Paul inaugurates study of college campus expansion; Macalester, Hamline are among school buying properties off campus
Author: Jane McClure
 
Short short version: The city  is going to study how to regulate colleges which are expanding without asking permission first. Macalester and Hamline are cited as culprits [though I have also heard that Metro State is guilty of this as well]. Article includes quote from Macalester VP: ""the college does not intent to expand its campus boundary."

Little Free Library Neighborhood Quiz

Twin City Sidewalks - Thu, 04/02/2015 - 2:35pm
Twin City sidewalks are chock-a-block full of Little Free Libraries, which are just celebrating their anniversary this year. It's a nice gesture, a good way of getting (rid of) books, and friendly little art projects to boot. Little Free Libraries are great!

But do you think you can tell what neighborhood you're just by looking at what books are in the Little Free Library?




Take This Quiz and Find Out!
If you're right, you'll see a picture of a "weapon of mass instruction" Argentinian bookmobile.
 
If you're wrong, you'll get the long-defunct Arise Bookstore on Lyndale Avenue.

There are 25 questions. What you find out may surprise you!




1) Michael Connelly, Larry Niven, Nora Roberts, David Baldacci

What neighborhood is this?

-- Jordan, Minneapolis
-- Longfellow, Minneapolis
-- West Saint Paul
-- West End, Saint Paul


2 ) "Making shapley fiction." Lots of kids books.

What neighborhood is this?

-- Longfellow, Minneapolis
-- Grand Avenue, Saint Paul
-- Selby Avenue, Saint Paul
-- Central/Phillips, Minneapolis


3) Pregnancy book. TC Boyle. "Devil in the white city." More kids books.

What neighborhood is this?

-- Highland Park, Saint Paul
-- West Side, Saint Paul
-- Powderhorn, Minneapolis
-- Seward, Minneapolis


4) AAA guide to Texas, "Harvest of Gain," Ray Bradbury, David Baldacci

What neighborhood is this?

-- Northeast, Minneapolis
-- Jordan, Minneapolis
-- West End, Saint Paul
-- Kenwood, Minneapolis


5) Memoirs of a geisha, Some sort of Modern Library thing, Tutu goes green.

What neighborhood is this?

-- West Side, Saint Paul
-- Longfellow, Minneapolis
-- Southeast, Minneapolis
-- East River Road, Saint Paul


6) The secret of shadow ranch, Al Capone does my shirts, miscellaneous YA.

What neighborhood is this?

-- Powderhorn, Minneapolis
-- West End, Saint Paul
-- Seward, Minneapolis
-- Edina


7) Weatherbeaten copy of "Wuthering Heights", Orhan Pamuk, Jonathan Kellerman, "Last summer at barebones," Tom Clancy.

What neighborhood is this?

-- Kenwood, Minneapolis
-- Northeast, Minneapolis
-- Central/Phillips, Minneapolis
-- Selby Avenue, Saint Paul


8) 500 paintings book, "Power politics and the Olympic Games," Cooking with Cheese.

What neighborhood is this?

-- West End, Saint Paul
-- Edina
-- Longfellow, Minneapolis
-- Midtown Global Market, Minneapolis


9) Hunger Games.

What neighborhood is this?

-- West Saint Paul
-- West Side, Saint Paul
-- Cathedral Hill, Saint Paul
-- Longfellow, Minneapolis


10) "Passages: a guide for pilgrims of the mind," Adalai Stevenson.

What neighborhood is this?

-- Summit Avenue, Saint Paul
-- Grand Avenue, Saint Paul
-- Uptown, Minneapolis
-- Longfellow, Minneapolis


11) Steig Larsson, "small-space gardening," some YA.

What neighborhood is this?

-- East River Road, Saint Paul
-- Summit Avenue, Saint Paul
-- Seward, Minneapolis
-- Uptown, Minneapolis



12) Patricia Cornwell, Lindsey Davis, Janet Evanovich, Agatha Rasin.

What neighborhood is this?

-- Lauderdale
-- East River Road, Saint Paul
-- Highland Park, Saint Paul
-- Longfellow, Minneapolis


13) Little golden books! Allen Ginsberg, "little owl's bedtime stories," Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

What neighborhood is this?

-- Uptown, Minneapolis
-- Southeast, Minneapolis
-- Highland Park, Saint Paul
-- Mac-Groveland, Saint Paul


14) Neal Stephenson, Patricia Cornwell, "Planning your career," "Invisible residents."

What neighborhood is this?

-- Richfield
-- Uptown, Minneapolis
-- Northeast, Minneapolis
-- Mac-Groveland, Saint Paul




15) Janet Evanovich, Stephen King, Thomas Harris, "I'm thankful each day!"

What neighborhood is this?

-- Longfellow, Minneapolis
-- Powderhorn, Minneapolis
-- Kenwood, Minneapolis
-- Grand Avenue, Saint Paul


16) Postromantic art," something about gender? "Out of my skin," Ian Morson.

What neighborhood is this?

-- Selby Avenue, Saint Paul
-- Highland Park, Saint Paul
-- Summit Avenue, Saint Paul
-- Richfield


17) Sue Grafton, Tom Wolfe, Iris Johanson, The Thorn Birds.

What neighborhood is this?

-- Summit Avenue, Saint Paul
-- Powderhorn, Minneapolis
-- East River Road, Saint Paul
-- Longfellow, Minneapolis




18) Lost in space, Madeline L'Engle, "Animal stories," looks like a lot of YA.

What neighborhood is this?

-- West Side, Saint Paul
-- Highland Park, Saint Paul
-- Southeast, Minneapolis
-- Powderhorn, Minneapolis


19) Janet Evanovich, guidebook for Nevada, Stuart Woods, bread machine book.

What neighborhood is this?

-- Seward, Minneapolis
-- Lauderdale
-- Cathedral Hill, Saint Paul
-- West End, Saint Paul


20) Cooking magazine, something about southeast Asia, Shakespeare's The Tempest, Doctor Zhivago.

What neighborhood is this?

-- Northeast, Minneapolis
-- Midtown Global Market, Minneapolis
-- Selby Avenue, Saint Paul
-- Grand Avenue, Saint Paul


21) "Fast food nation", "the clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order," "transnational cinema in a global north," "Nickel and dimed."

What neighborhood is this?

-- East River Road, Saint Paul
-- Central/Phillips, Minneapolis
-- West Saint Paul
-- Highland Park, Saint Paul


22) E.L. Doctorow, Paul Wellstone, Jane Smiley,  "Jane Eyre," "A Farewell to Arms," "The Jane Austen book club."

What neighborhood is this?

-- Seward, Minneapolis
-- Mac-Groveland, Saint Paul
-- West Side, Saint Paul
-- Lauderdale


23) "Ronald Reagan", "The scarlet letter," something about theology," "Ivanhoe," "Of mice and men."

What neighborhood is this?

-- East Side, Saint Paul
-- Summit Avenue, Saint Paul
-- Jordan, Minneapolis
-- Cathedral Hill, Saint Paul


24) "Chocolat", "Kavalier and Klay," "Kill two birds and get stones," guidebook to Uganda, "The Secret."

What neighborhood is this?

-- Selby Avenue, Saint Paul
-- Kenwood, Minneapolis
-- Lyndale, Minneapolis
-- Longfellow, Minneapolis


25) "Enders Game," Larissa Ione, "Miracles of Mentoring."

What neighborhood is this?

-- Seward, Minneapolis
-- West Side, Saint Paul
-- Jordan, Minneapolis
-- Highland Park, Saint Paul

Motivational Poster #1

Twin City Sidewalks - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 1:42pm
This one is certainly true.


Reading the Highland Villager #127

Twin City Sidewalks - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 4:13pm
[Springtime is Villagers unearthed.][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. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.] 


Headline: Ideas tossed around for open space at Ford site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An old truck factory is going to become something else, some of which will be "open space." There was a meeting. People would like access to the nearby Hidden Falls park [Note: I've never successfully found the falls], wildlife habitat, gardens, playgrounds, and a "market space." People may or may not want a dog park. [Probably depends on whether one has a dog.] Bike and pedestrian trails seem to be popular, including a "greenway." Article includes discussion of historic ballfields on the site and the city's "parkland dedication fund." Open space may or may not be near Ford Parkway, which may or may not be too busy.


Headline: Blueprint for design of new single-family homes aired
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: City staff have come up with new "parameters" for designs of homes, like size, height, and materials, for the areas which have seen a lot of teardowns. "They aim to prevent monotony." [Lots of things have that aim, including this blog.] Article goes over background of the teardown issue, and has details about recommendations for sizes of home additions etc., e.g. "additions greater than 120 square feet [must have] windows and doors that account for at least 1- percent of the area of any exterior wall." [Sounds specific!] City staff would like to have any regulation extend city-wide. [That would be very difficult, I believe. Other parts of the city are not in similar boats, economy-wise.]


Headline: Bike plan rounds corner to final approval
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The bike plan will go before the city council. [It did, and it passed.]


Headline: Study hopes to improve on 40 years of free-market trash collection in city; New system sought to reduce cots and wear and tear on the streets
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Saint Paul has never had organized trash collection, but the Mac-Grove neighborhood got a grant to think about it. Some of the ideas are to "assign" haulers to different parts of the city. There are legal procedures for how to organize trash collection in state law. Minneapolis has organized trash collection. Many other cities have organized trash collection. [For a long time I was thinking about doing a rough anlysis of how much money the city loses in extra street maintenance costs by having 3-5X the number of heavy garbage trucks driving down its streets. The answer is that it's a hell of a lot!] There was a study in 2013 that said that nobody likes having lots of trucks driving up and down their street all week.


Headline: BZA supports plans for Woodlawn teardown
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A couple can tear down a home they bought and replace it. Neighbors are upset.


Headline: Ward 1 DFL falls short of endorsing City Council candidate
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Dai Thao did not get the endorsement. [Not sure why. He seems pretty good to me.]


Headline: 'Making Strides' Report outlines steps for a more accessible Green Line
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: People are beginning to notice how crappy the sidewalks around University Avenue really are, especially for disabled people or old people [or anyone on foot, really].


Headline: Lex-Randolph property purchase opposed
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: City and county plans [but mostly county plans] to widen a street by tearing down existing homes [and taking away some of their yards] in order to add turn lanes are not very popular. The local neighborhood group voted to oppose. They'd also like to move the Metro Transit stop farther from the corner. Article includes LOS grades ("between C and F") [for some reason]. "Adding a northbound lane is expected to bring the grade up to a D [from an E]." [$1.5M and the loss of valuable property for an extremely marginal change?] Randolph Avenue is being reconstructed anyway.


Headline: Debate continues over Merriam Park cell tower agreement
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: People are still arguing about whether the city owes the neighborhood money about a cell phone tower that was built years ago.


Headline: Residents appeal BZA decision to allow student rental on Grand
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: People who own a house on Grand Avenue would like to register it as a student rental but are having trouble with it because they forgot to register it when it was required after the student housing ordinance was passed two years ago. The neighborhood group is supporting the owners. Some people are upset.


Headline: Goodwill moves into new flagship store on University
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There's another Goodwill on University now. [It's got a big surface parking lot right along the sidewalk, too.]

Dero Through the Years: Highlights from our Designer

Dero Bike Racks - Fri, 03/20/2015 - 10:38am

On March 21, 1995 Dero Bike Racks was born. Tomorrow is officially our 20th birthday! What started as two University of Minnesota graduates trying to solve the problem of insufficient bike parking, has grown into one of the leading bicycle rack and public bike repair manufacturers in the country (but we don’t take ourselves too […]

The post Dero Through the Years: Highlights from our Designer appeared first on .

Twin City Bike Parking #16

Twin City Sidewalks - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 2:05pm
[Grand Marais.]
[Grand Marais.]
[Phillips, Minneapolis.]
[Downtown, Saint Paul.]
[University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.]
 [Raymond Avenue, Saint Paul.]  [Snelling Avenue, Saint Paul.]
[Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis.]

Signs of the Times #101

Twin City Sidewalks - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 1:59pm
New DOOR
[Marshall Avenue, Saint Paul.]
Pillow CleaningNew Tics
[Snelling Avenue, Saint Paul?]
WATCH BATTERIESWHILE YOU WAIT
[Downtown, Saint Paul.]
Please do notStand or Climbon Statues!Thanks
[Downtown, Saint Paul.]
NEED YOUR DRIVERSBACK DUE TO TICKETSAND FINES? I ASSIST IN ALLDRIVING VIOLATIONS
[Pole. West Side, Saint Paul.]
 DOGSHEREMUST BE LEASHEDThank You!
[Fence. Northeast, Minneapolis.]
 THE ART SHOPPE90 LOCALARTISTS' WORK INHERE!
[Window. Lake Street, Minneapolis.] OPEN
[Hamline Avenue, Saint Paul.]

Twin City Shovelers #5

Twin City Sidewalks - Thu, 03/19/2015 - 1:45pm
  [Location forgotten.]
  [Location forgotten.]
  [Location forgotten.]
 [Location forgotten.]
 [West 7th, Saint Paul.]
 [Lowertown, Saint Paul.]
[West Side, Saint Paul.]

Vehicular Violence and the War on Buildings

Twin City Sidewalks - Mon, 03/16/2015 - 8:47am
This weekend, yet another car plowed into yet another historic building in Saint Paul when a drunk driver ran a red light, collided with another car, and was launched into the front of the Green Mill restaurant on the corner of Grand and Hamline.* A day after the crash the car’s bumper and license plate were still inside the building.

That makes the total count something like one high-profile incident per month for the last few months. Just on the top of my tongue, I can remember the car that drove into the locally-owned pharmacy on Snelling Avenue, the car that drove into the burger bar in Lowertown, and the car that drove into the fire station on West 7th Street. For every incident that’s reported in the paper, I’m going to bet that there are two or three lesser collisions where cars jump the curb and slam into a tree, planter, pole or some other part of the streetscape.

For every car slamming into another Saint Paul business, how many sidewalk cafés go missing?
Fire station.
Restaurant.
Bar. [Just the most recent bits of automobile erosion.]
Literal Violence

Discussing urban design, it's easy to understate the effect our automobile-dominated street design has on the quality of life in our cities. Cars are such a ubiquitous presence. Even as I type this now, my apartment window is open for the first time in half a year, and the early spring sounds of morning birds mix with the faint hum of car tires from of a nearby freeway, and the high periodic whine of cars speeding down George Street. We’re taught from an early age to be wary of streets, and speeding cars have been eroding piece of mind for so long that we forget what we're missing.

In an odd way, then, it’s easy to dwell on the ineffable and forget that cars also literally do violence to our cities. The signs are all around us, as Joe Scott’s bittersweet revenge walk reveals: scars on trees or a new facade.

In Saint Paul, Red’s Savoy Inn offers the extreme case. Red’s Savoy is an old school italian bar and restaurant, chock full of character. It’s also an island in sea of freeway interchanges, nearly the last remnant of an old industrial neighborhood that was folded into the old rail yards that used to dominate the east end of downtown Saint Paul.

During the 1960s, almost all of the neighborhood was torn down as three freeways were rammed through the neighborhood (Interstate 35E, 94, and US Highway 52 all come together here). As locals are fond of pointing out, because of one badly designed on-ramp, so many cars have gone through the front of the building that they built a permanent concrete barrier on the sidewalk.

That Red’s Savoy is still standing is a testament to resilience, not just to the economic tides, but to the literal violence of cars smashing upon its bricks like waves. Saint Paul’s Gibraltar.
 
 


* Not coincidentally, the corner of Grand and Hamline is the site of the tragic killing of Cleo Thiberge, a young exchange student who was walking down the street on her first day in Saint Paul. Thiberge had the right-of-way in the crosswalk. 

Reading the Highland Villager #126

Twin City Sidewalks - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 2:23pm

[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. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.] 


Headline: Residents express some concerns over new Target store in Highland
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version:The old chain bookstore is becoming a chain "urban" big-box retailer. "Residents are concerned about traffic, pedestrian safety, and parking." [Well, at least they added pedestrian safety to the list! Baby steps, Highland.] There's basically nothing anyone can do as all no permits are required. Best quote: "It's a local store for the local community." [A friend of mine is fond of pointing out how most of the "small businesses" in "Highland Village" are chains. That's not quite totally true, but kinda is.] There is a traffic study in the works [though vague about what it is going to study, or when it will study it]. The "deteriorated information kiosk" has been removed. [Huh? As far as information kiosks go, it was not bad... and I should know because I've been documenting them for  years.] There will be a farmer's market in the parking lot somewhere near there on Saturdays. [Cool!] The business plan is thus: "each TargetExpress wil stock what local residents need." [Well, that seems straightforward. So, it'll sell parking spaces? Anti-anxiety drugs?] That list includes toys. The floor will feature "hickory plank accents." [OK, I'm done. I can't read any more.]


Headline: West 7th Street is reborn as a retail destination; new and relocated stores rise up in the shadows of historic Schmidt brewery
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Long vacant storefronts now have stores in them. [Woah.] Article features CM Dave Thune. [If pigs fly, and somehow Bill Hosko and David Glass get elected to the city council, then Saint Paul's long-standing Thune-ian tradition of electing marginal business/gallery owners will be alive and well.]


Headline: City decides to reopen portion of Lilydale Park; area for hiking, fossil hunting has been closed since fatal landslide in May 2013
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Part of a bluff park in Saint Paul that was the location of a horrible tragedy [and coverup?] is open again, or at least most of it, i.e. not the part where the accident happened. [Climate change, increasing rainfall, erosion and destabilization, etc. This is a cool part of Saint Paul near where I live. I'd link to think that Saint Paul's unique caves, paths, bluffs, and woods can be used to everyone without the city getting sued and kids dying.]


Headline: Ward 2 DFL adjourns with no endorsement for City Council
Author: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: The delegates to the DFL convention in Ward 2, which is an open seat, did not endorese a candidate. [For the record, this is my neighborhood and I am helping with Rebecca Noecker's campaign, and attended this entire marathon affair. Noecker is a great candidate. I'll be writing more about this during the summer, but basically, I'm happy that the party didn't endorse anyone in this open seat. I find endorsements problematic in one-party towns with ranked-choice voting, because they dramatically decrease the number of people who are involved in the democratic process. Also for the record, Noecker was the #1 candidate during every round of voting, achieving 40% support on one of the ballots. 60% is needed for the endorsement. You can hear the speeches here (rewind to hear them all).]


Headline: Improvements in store for long-neglected Dickerman Park
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A [very strange] city park that is basically a boulevard along University Avenue is going to be "revitalized" and remodeled with new sidewalks "water features" and "art opportunities", at least if they get the $3 million from the city's Capital improvement Budget request. $2M has already been appropriated through the 8-80 funding. Article includes brief history of the park, which dates back to 1910.


Headline: Mac-Grove residents reject widening Randolph at Lexington
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Saint Paul and Ramsey County want to purchase [and bulldoze] homes at a corner near a freeway and a [soul sucking chain] grocery store in order to expand the road there and build turn lanes, but neighbors are upset about it and the local group voted against it. [In a fit of Orwellian irony] Money for the project comes from the city's [aforementioned] 8-80 funding [which is in theory meant to make the city more walkable but in this case does the opposite]. "A committee" [I'm guessing the "transportation committee"?] voted against the idea. The county needs a year to purchase and demolish the homes [including a mixed-use "apartment-office building] so they need to decide soon. [Bulldozing perfectly good and dense houses and mixed-use fabric in order to make turn lanes... How very 1950s.] CM Tolbert, who originally got the city money for the project, would like to hear other ideas for how to use the $1.5M in 8-80 money. [Paging all 3rd Ward residents; send in your better ideas!] Article includes reference to induced demand, pedestrian safety, and improving the sidewalks over the freeway there. Randolph will be reconstructed regardless in 2016. [Lets not bulldoze homes for onramps any more, Saint Paul.]


Headline: City OKs lot sale to open space for Stone Saloon
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city HRA [basically the same as the city council, only with money] is selling land to move a house on Smith Avenue in order to free up space for a [really really old] future brewing building that dates back to 1857. "It is one of only five surviving small limestone houses in Saint Paul." [This is a cool building near my house that I will visit often once it opens in 2017.] The house they will be moving is really really close to the old saloon building.


Headline: O'Gara's in spat over closing time for St. Patrick's parties
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A [right wing, semi-intolerable] bar on Snelby wants to play loud music until 1:00 am, but neighbors want them to stop at 10:00.


Headline: St. Paul brings back proposal for organized trash collection
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: In Saint Paul, everyone on every block has a different trash truck that picks up their trash, all on different days. [That exponentially increases the amount of wear on the city streets, BTW.]


Headline: Coleman puts cuffs on police body cameras, residency issue
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The mayor does not want police to have to wear cameras or live in the city.


Headline: City council approves liquor licenses for Episcopal Homes
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Retired Episcopalians can drink now. [I was raised Episcopalian. I'm predicting a lot of gin.]


Headline: Accessibility report shows stride made by Green Line
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: University Avenue isn't quite the hellscape for people in wheelchairs that it used to be.


Headline: BZA denies Marshall duplex expansion
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A landlord who wants to convert an old student rental property from a duplex to a triplex can't because there's no "hardship shown."



[Editors note: apologies for the late Villager recap. I was in THE Highland Village the other day and intending to type this up. Lo and behold, I looked in vain for a copy of the Villager on the actual, newly-refurbished-at-great-expense sidewalks of the actual Highland Village and all was in vain. Nowhere had a copy of the Villager!

[No Villager on the sidewalk.]
[No Villager at the coffee shop.]
[No Villager at the bookstore.]
Also no Villager at the tea shop, the local bro bar, the diner, or the cute girly gift shop.

Meanwhile, over in West Saint Paul, see picture above.

I don't know what to make of it. It was simply weird. The Villager had been out for less than a week.]

*** Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Twin City Sidewalks - Fri, 03/06/2015 - 4:24pm
Sidewalk Rating: CatalyticJust a few hours after listening to experts and callers weigh in on the topic, I happened upon a picture book that provided another perspective.  InThe Bus Ride by Marianne Dubuc, a little girl rides a bus by herself for the first time.  Her bus ride looks a little bit different from my usual bus rides.  Her world is populated by what appear to be scary animals.  Wolves and bears board the bus with her.  They seem intimidating, but in the end, they are friendly, or at least benign.  The girl’s solo trip is not without adventure, but it is a quiet sort of adventure.  It seems like a just-right adventure in this book.
[from here.]
[Bike parking at the Surly Brewery in Minneapolis.]

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Reading the Highland Villager #125

Twin City Sidewalks - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 3:29pm
[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. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.]  Headline: Union Park at odds with city over use of cell tower funds; whereabouts of unspent lease payments still up in the air Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Money from leasing agreements with a cell tower was supposed to go to improvements to two parks, but the city can’t account for the money, which is some think like $40K. it seems like Parks and Recreation is claiming that the money was spent on the parks in question, but they don’t have good documentation of spending the funds there. [Typical Saint Paul.] Article includes history of the cell tower construction fight. [Involving the Planning Commission, thankfully before my time. I find it difficult to have strong feelings about cell towers, either way, but agree that they are an eyesore.]


Headline: Design standards for new home construction stall; creating rules exclusive to Ward 3 is questioned 
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Neighbors in Highland and Mac-Grove would really like to see new design and setback standards for “teardowns” but … Article quotes two members of the Planning Commission expressing some skepticism that the process is simple, citing the problems with negotiating setbacks and having arbitrary borders around certain neighborhoods, rather than the entire city. [I don’t have strong opinions about this personally.] The city is working on a study on the new design standards, but it is being delayed due to these kinds of complexities. Article includes background on the 1721 Princeton Avenue teardown situation. [Update: the Macalaster College High Winds foundation has purchased the home.]


Headline: Commission OKs plan for Grand apartments 
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A four-story apartment building will be built on Grand Avenue. Neighbors worry about “parking congestion.” Article includes the quote: “The car elevator is new for Saint Paul.” [A new day is dawning, friend.] The developer is upset about having restrictions about how many on-street parking permits he is allowed to purchase. [On-street parking permits is a whole topic that neighbors in areas like this should think way more about. For one thing, they should be more expensive! Correct me if I'm wrong, but I heard they’re like $10 a year or something right now. Pricing is the only way to ensure there are more spaces available. It’s pretty simple really. You can have free parking or you can convenient parking. Unless you live in Flint Michigan or the Twin cities suburbs, it's impossible to have both.]


Headline: Proposed bike loop divides downtown business community
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Overview of the plans for the downtown bike loop and the dispute between two business groups about whether to support the loop or retaining on-street parking on certain streets downtown. Article cites Mayoral aide Anne Hunt: “The only part of the downtown loop and spur system we’ll be building this year is Jackson Street.” [I like how she calls it a ‘spur’ system as well, as connecting downtown to the neighborhood bike lanes in all directions will be *the key* to its success.] Article also mentions the downtown parking study [which is in the works and is really what everyone should be focusing on].

Headline: University Avenue, 7th Street bikeways added to city bike plan
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Article on the Planning Commission’s Transportation Committee unanimously passing the proposed bike plan while make a few changes, including adding 7th Street and a short stretch of University Avenue to the map. [This article is about the Committee that I chair, so I’m not going to say much about it. You can read the city’s memo on the matter, which does a good job of summarizing everything, here: link to a .pdf packet, scroll to the end.]


Headline: Neighbors divided over widening of Randolph-Lexington; Will it ease congestion or attract more traffic, that is the question [How Shakespearean! But that's actually not the question. The question should be, "what is best for everyone living in Saint Paul? If the answer to the question is 'easing congestion', which is almost always a lost cause in a growing city, than the question is messed up to begin with.]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Ramsey County and Saint Paul’s public works departments are trying to figure out what to do about reconstructing an intersection by a grocery store and a freeway. There is a proposal to widen the intersection [though the exact details are unclear] to “improve traffic flow and eliminate the long backups that have irritated motorists.” Article cites neighborhood group people that are upset because it would impact safety and would “simply attract more traffic.” Article includes some safety statistics. There are “eight scenarios” for the intersection which would “involve taking some of the boulevard”, removing retaining walls or trees. [I have heard they might condemn some of the existing homes or apartments on the corner, though this is not mentioned in the article. Bulldozing existing tax-paying homes in order to widen roads for often-suburban commuters is a thing that cities used to do a lot back in the old days. I had thought we’d learned our lesson. Also, there are some public process issues with this project, as it did not go through usual public approval.] Article also states that “several people asked that pedestrian bridges be built over the streets.” [What lunacy! Has anyone ever been on a pedestrian bridge before? I have examples I can show you.]


Headline: Urban Organics wants to bring plants, fish to Schmidt warehouse; facility would be second in city to use aquaponics 
Author: Jane McClure


Short short version: An [almost science-fiction-like] scenario fish poop in an old building grows vegetables that filter water for fish (that then poop again) in an abandoned brewery. “Others were skeptical about potential odors.” This is already happening over on the East Side.

*** Sidewalk Weekend! ***

Twin City Sidewalks - Fri, 02/13/2015 - 12:55pm
Sidewalk Rating: Visionary
I was sitting on the bus on my way home one day. I was listening to some good music in my headphones. It was a cloudless autumn day and everything was a healthy yellow and orange color and blue sky. At a stop a african man and a young boy, maybe 5-6 years, got on. The man was tall and had bad clothes, he looked like he did not have much. They sat in front of me. I immediately became annoyed and started to think about how I hated them, fucking immigrants coming to my country, he is poor and I pay taxes so he can get welfare. I thought about how his son is going to become a lousy shit and rape white women. I started to get mad and decided to beat him up, I was going to follow him when he got off the bus.
I saw him press the button and got ready at the next stop, and just before we stopped I was about to get up and the man turned to his son and said something in a heavy accent that I will never forget in my life."I love you my son, be good."He then gave him a big, hard hug and the boy got off the bus alone. He waved good bye and sat back down, with his hands on his face. I just stared out the window where his son had been standing. My world view came crashing. He was just a father who wanted his son to be good, he loved him just like my father loved me. For some reason this changed everything for me. I know this is a very small thing but I started to think about how he wanted a better life for his son. He was a man that had changed everything for his family.I sat on that bus for hours, it kept going around. I thought about how wrong it was to do the things I had done. I left that city the next day and started over. I am much happier now. I dont feel the hate in my heart every day anymore.[this.]
[Look at the parking lot.]


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Reading the Highland Villager #124

Twin City Sidewalks - Thu, 02/05/2015 - 5:44pm
[Villagers mount up in a West Saint Paul grocery.][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. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.]


Headline: Concerns rise over height of Cleveland Ave. building; Residents also uneasy about traffic parking [You could put that subtitle after *any* Highland Villager story. It's like that game with the fortune cookie fortunes.]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [In a particular bit of irony] Edina Realty wants to re-develop their old building into a four-story mixed-use building. [Silly realtors, what with the market-driven real estate thing...] There was a public meeting that people went to to say that the building was too large, too dense. It would have 53 market rate apartments above office or retail on the ground floor. The building height is 10' above the non-CUP zoning heights. Article includes quote from a [somehow reasonable] man: "We live in an urban area; something is going to be build here." Third best quote: "The answer is a parking ramp." [Does it matter what the question is?] Neighbors are also concerned about parking and congestion. Second best quote, from a resident: "Expecting tenants and customers to use underground parking is a 'Pollyanna' approach." Best quote, from an anonymous woman:  "It's lovely, but it belongs in Woodbury." [OMGOMGOMG! That's even harsh for me!]


Headline: City envisions Ford site powered by renewables; 125-acre development would generate all of the energy it needs
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There is an old hydro power plan under the Ford site, and there was a public meeting about how to make the coming redevelopment of the old auto plant powered by renewables. Engineers and consultants came into town to talk to the people there. District energy is a possibility. [That would be cool! It's super efficient.] There will be more meetings in the future, including one on bikes and sidewalks. A TIF district might fund any energy infrastructure.


Headline: Local projects join those seeking new round of CIB funding; district councils ar among the first set to review proposals
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The capital improvement budget applications for city money for projects and things from the Highland Villager coverage area are listed here. For example, money for a circus school, improvements to parks and rec centers, a "kitchen and event space" for a golf course, playground equipment, an improved bike path along the 35E freeway [other side of the sound wall], new pavers in Mears Park, a new fire station, traffic calming at Selby and Snelling, sidewalks for West 7th Street by Sibley Plaza [because the developer isn't improving the streetcape himself?], the 3rd/Kellogg bridge [that is sorta falling down but doesn't technically need to be replaced], lighting for Cleveland Avenue and Wall Street, sidewalks connecting to the Green Line [this should have been funded by the project but should be a no brainer], "Mister Michael Recycles Bicycles is again requesting an off-street bicycle connection between Pascal Street and Ayd Mill Road" [I sense some ennui from the author here], traffic calming for Grand and Syndicate, and more [surrender] orange flags for people to cross the street. [Glad I'm not on that committee. PS fund bike and ped projects!]


Headline: Debate continues over changing parkland dedication regs
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city wants to increase the amount of money it gets from developers for parks, increasing it for residential and decreasing it for other uses in some cases. The Chamber doesn't like it, nor do affordable housing people. Parks people do like it.


Headline: Council OKs Shepard-Davern rezoning
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The new zoning plans for the Shepard-Davern area at the far end of West 7th Street were passed by the City Council. Nobody came to argue about the Sibley Plaza rezoning. [See previous Villagers. Author seems surprised.]


Headline: New plan for Shepard-Davern area also set; Debate surfaces over future of 'ghost park' [I like the idea of a 'ghost park'. It could be a haven for lost souls in search of more parking.]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Neighbors are upset that a "natural tract" along a bluff in the Shepard-Davern area is neglected and full of trash, and would like it to be a higher priority for the city. Article includes history of the park from this book, which claims that the it was one of the city's "ghost parks." One resident would like it used to commemorate native american heritage. [We need more of that.] Article includes details of plan that would [hopefully] make walking wafer by improving intersections. [Good luck, because West 7th street is designed at deadly speeds, basically an uncrossable traffic sewer.]


Headline: Design standards for new home construction discussed
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: People  in the southwest part of the city had a meeting to talk about how to make new houses [probably part of the "teardown" discussion] conform to certain standards about height, lot coverage, fenestration, and other things. Article includes quote from CM Tolbert: "This is a very complex issue." There is a planner who is working on it to "mat the character of neighborhoods and see what trends emerge." Best quote from a neighbor: "You see some siding that you wouldn't even put on a shed."


Headline:  City Council bans practice of backyard archery in St. Paul
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Waiting for the Soucheray column on this with bated breath.]


Headline: Committee to review plan for new Grand Ave. apartments
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Plans for a four-story building on Grand Avenue are going to the zoning committee. Neighbors are neither for nor against the plan. There will be no balconies, and "social activity atop the garage would be banned." Also "the number of visitor parking permits is limited to four." [Reminds me of this.]


Headline: Controversy over on-street parking arises in Ramsey Hill
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Two new groups have begun on Facebook to advocate for more parking in the Selby-Western area after a restaurant opened up in an old art school administration building there. The owner of one restaurant would like "two-sided parking" on residential streets, but neighbors do not like the idea. One-sided parking has been in place since 1967, because "it is a mater of public safety for emergency vehicle access as well as more effective snowplowing." Article includes enigmatic quote: "the one-sided parking ban was enacted for political reasons." [Parking conspiracy! I don't have strong opinions about this. There are plenty of narrow streets in South Minneapolis that seem not to burn down, and cars get around just fine. In the winter you can enact temporary bans, lke they do sometimes, no?]


Headline: City condemns Concordia Ave. house damaged by fire in 2013
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A house that mostly burned two years ago must be torn down.


Headline: Snelling, Ford and east 46th will be torn up for much of '15 [I know that technically the Highland Villager's coverage area extends into parts of Minneapolis, but it's always weird to see them actually mention Minneapolis in a story. It's like the seeing Brett Favre in a Vikings jersey.]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Roads that need to be reconstructed periodically will be reconstructed, and also a [nice new] aBRT bus line will be installed. Article includes quotes from the transit planner about the new stops. Snelling will be getting new sidewalks between Pierce Butler Route and Selby Avenue. [Not that it'll make crossing the street much safer...] Ford Parkway will be getting bike lanes [despite the fact that the city didn't want to put it on the bike plan].

Twin City Yarnbombing #2

Twin City Sidewalks - Wed, 02/04/2015 - 1:26pm
[Selby Avenue, Saint Paul.]
 [Chicago.]
 [Seward, Minneapolis?]
 [Philadelphia?]


[Three images of a yarn installation on a tennis court; Cedar-Riverside, Minneapolis.]

Twin City Doorways #15

Twin City Sidewalks - Wed, 02/04/2015 - 1:19pm
 [Grand Marais.]
 [Lake Street, Minneapolis.]
 [Downtown Saint Paul.]
 [West 7th Street, Saint Paul.]
 [Lake Street, Minneapolis.]
[Northeast Minneapolis.]

TCSidewalks Live: Noteworthy Dive Bars of the Green Line

Twin City Sidewalks - Tue, 02/03/2015 - 2:45pm
It's time once again for a quasi-historical tour of the dive bars of the Twin Cities. This time we'll be zooming in on the Green Line.

As it turns out, dive bars are unevenly distributed along University Avenue, the vast majority of them occupying the amazing stretch of blocks on the Northeast corner of Snelling and University. Perhaps this part of the street is so dense because of the dearth across the way, the former streetcar barns and warehouses that have become the city's largest collection of big-boxes, parking lots, and strip malls.

Dives also abound elsewhere in the neighborhood, scattered throughout Frogtown and points North along Thomas and Minnehaha Avenues. But that is the subject of another tour...

The rich vein of Green Line dives lies begins just East of Snelling Avenue and extends to the edge of the industrial areas to the West. Measured in miles, the voyage might not seem daunting. But measured in the depth, the expedition will plumb the souls of even the most world-weary. I have lingered in the chambers of University, and listened to the songs of old bricks. I will share with you what historical pearls I have gleaned. Together we will make what we can from the dust.

Legendary Saint Paul musician, restless soul, sometime taxi driver, and everyman historian of the underbelly Mike Gunther will be joining us to share tales of pre-light rail University. Brace yourself for February, get on the Green Line, and enter the world of the Midway.



What: A walking and train tour of some noteworthy dive bars of University Avenue.
When: Thursday, February 19th; departing at 6:30.
Where: Begins at Trend Bar and proceeds West.
How much: Free, but please drop a buck or two into the tip jar if you are able.


[Facebook event.]


Q: Huh?

A: This is a walking and train tour taking place in Saint Paul called "Noteworthy Dive Bars of the Green Line."

Q: What is a Dive Bar?

A: Cleanly defining a dive bar is difficult, precisely because dives are not very clean. It's a bit like Justice Potter Stewart's definition of obscenity. Here's what we know...

Windows - These are a minus. Dives eschew fenestration. What happens in the dive, stays in the dive.

Staff - Ideally, there's only one staff. Maybe someone works in the back. The more staff, the less divey.

Regulars - A must. When you walk into a dive, people should stop talking like in a wild west saloon and look at you a bit funny. Unless you are a regular, you really don't belong. 

Daydrinkers -Yep.

Pull Tabs - 90%. Meat raffles are also good. Best is when there's a pot of some sort of free food sitting on a table.

Nonchalance - Dives can't be trying too hard to make money. If they are, they're not dives any more. No fancy menus. No fancy paint jobs, etc.

Cleanliness - Nope.

"Craft Beer" - Not generally, unless its brewed within the same city as the dive.

Food - Almost always greasy or nothing. Heggie's Pizza is the hallmark of a dive.

Q: Do I need a bike?

A: No, not at all.

Q: It's February, you idiot.

A: The train is warm and near. You will have to walk about a mile, in total, but not all at once.

Q: Can I come for part of it, but not hang out with you the entire goddam time?

A: Yes. I will be tweeting locations, there will be a quasi-schedule, and you can always call (if you're lucky enough to have my digits) to find out where the tour is at. Come just for one dive, or enjoy the whole diving expedition.