Lowertown: Former steamboat landing experiences another boom

The fact that Lowertown, in downtown Saint Paul at the foot of Robert Street, is north of Uppertown, at the foot of Chestnut Street near Irvine Park, may seem puzzling, but it actually makes perfect sense. The Mississippi River takes a few turns as it passes through the area, forming a sort of sideways S-curve … Continue reading Lowertown: Former steamboat landing experiences another boom

Clarence “Cap” Wigington: Architect’s beautiful, elegant buildings endure in St. Paul

Clarence Wigington left his mark all over Saint Paul, yet his work was largely unattributed during his lifetime. Even today few recognize his many architectural accomplishments. In a sense, he was an invisible man. Wigington, known as “Cap,” was the mastermind behind the Highland Park Water Tower,* the Harriet Island Pavilion, the [now] Roy Wilkins … Continue reading Clarence “Cap” Wigington: Architect’s beautiful, elegant buildings endure in St. Paul

Union Depot: City’s historic center is getting back on track

St. Paul’s Union Depot at 215 Fourth Street may be on the last leg of a long round trip, heading back, though slowly, toward becoming a bustling transit hub again. Traces remain of the station’s glory days, since the most recent restoration in 2010-2012. The former ticket windows are visible behind the bar, the oversize … Continue reading Union Depot: City’s historic center is getting back on track

Cass Gilbert: Architect’s Minnesota State Capitol moved him to national fame

Cass Gilbert “changed the face of St. Paul," according to Leigh Roethke in Minnesota’s Capitol. After moving to Saint Paul as a child, he left to learn his trade but returned to grow his architectural practice and stayed for 27 years. Then he left again, this time for New York City where his national reputation … Continue reading Cass Gilbert: Architect’s Minnesota State Capitol moved him to national fame

Mickey’s Diner: Everybody knows Mickey’s

Long before “24/7” became a popular phrase, Mickey’s Diner was operating in that mode. Mickey’s has been operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week since it opened in 1939. Mickey’s Diner is a prominent St. Paul landmark, highly visible at the corner of 9th and St. Peter in downtown, a must-see for visitors. … Continue reading Mickey’s Diner: Everybody knows Mickey’s

Pioneer and Endicott Buildings: Pioneer spirit of St. Paul’s early days is preserved in two magnificent buildings

Two buildings with shared histories—physically and in the public mind—sit side by side in downtown St. Paul, until recently empty and without future plans. They are two of the city’s oldest architectural gems: the Pioneer and Endicott buildings. They were constructed at almost the same time. When the Pioneer Building opened for business in 1889, … Continue reading Pioneer and Endicott Buildings: Pioneer spirit of St. Paul’s early days is preserved in two magnificent buildings

The Saint Paul Hotel: Everyone who’s anyone has slept there

When the Saint Paul Hotel officially opened on April 18, 1910, the city’s movers and shakers enjoyed an 11-course dinner at the hotel, and heard speeches by railroad magnate James J. Hill, Archbishop John Ireland, Governor Adolph Eberhart, and future Supreme Court Justice Pierce Butler. The hotel lobby and dining room were decorated with 6,000 … Continue reading The Saint Paul Hotel: Everyone who’s anyone has slept there

Landmark Center: Old Federal Building was rescued from demolition in early preservation effort

Landmark Center is a trapezoidal building that sits overlooking Rice Park between Fifth and Sixth streets, and Washington and Market streets in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Its ornate style is known as Richardsonian Romanesque or Romanesque Revival, a style that was quite popular for government buildings when that building was constructed around the turn of the … Continue reading Landmark Center: Old Federal Building was rescued from demolition in early preservation effort

Harriet Island: Not a real island but a longtime center for recreation in Saint Paul

Harriet Island is one of St. Paul’s oldest parks, dating from 1900, when Justus Ohage, the city’s Commissioner of Public Health, donated the property to the city. He had raised money and mortgaged his own house to acquire the island and create a healthy recreation site for the city’s citizens. Ohage believed, “In the health … Continue reading Harriet Island: Not a real island but a longtime center for recreation in Saint Paul

The Capitol Mall: Historic memorials and tributes adorn the capitol lawn

There’s much more to the Capitol Mall than meets the eye. If you’ve driven by and never stopped to explore, you likely think it’s a large grassy lawn with some run-of-the-mill statues where not much changes over the years: an attractive open space leading up to the Capitol building. In fact, the statues and memorials … Continue reading The Capitol Mall: Historic memorials and tributes adorn the capitol lawn