Thursday, August 14, 2008

A slice of life in the City of St. Paul

Unfortunately, I had to run over to St. Paul this morning to go to confession. Fortunately, Nativity of Our Lord has confession before the 8:15 Mass on Monday through Friday. Fortunately, there wasn't a long line and I did what needed to be done. Thank you, Lord.

St. Paul and Minneapolis are called the Twin Cities. But I think that rather than being "identical cities", they are twins with different fathers and different mothers. Culturally there are a lot of differences. St. Paul is more "family style", laid back and conservative, although a strong DFL core of voters keeps it in the blue column, generally. Unless they work there, most people in St. Paul don't visit Minneapolis more than once every ten years, if that often.

Minneapolis wants to be like Boston or San Francisco. Enough said about that. (Although there are some St. Paul-like neighborhoods). Many Minneapolitans do get over to St. Paul to shop or dine on Grand Avenue or in many of the other neat locales.

Of course, as often as not, they get lost, because of the ridiculous street address system. The numbers go to 99 before changing, thus the 800 block might be three or four blocks long. (The original system was created after water meters were installed. Some genius thought it would be neat to give houses the same number as their water meter.)

I was struck as I drove through the Saintly City towards my destination to see four people at a bus stop in a single family residential neighborhood, standing in a row, each about six feet from the next. Nobody talking, not even reading a paper. Maybe they all had one of those music thingies in their ear. Not very neighborly, I thought; St. Paul must be changing. Lots of unfriendly types moving in.

Then, as I swung around the corner at my destination and lurched out of the car, I glanced down the street about a block, there were ten young women, late teens to early 30's maybe, all walking closely together in a group, and sure enough, headed towards Nativity, 30 minutes early for the Mass and maybe a rosary first. A few others joined them later.

I guess St. Paul hasn't changed. Thank God. It's too crowded in Minneapolis. If they started coming over here to shop and dine, the lines would be too long.


Anonymous said...

I thought I heard that street addresses in St Paul are based on the number of feet from a designated street in the city. For east/west streets, it's the number of feet from Rice Street. For north/south streets, it's the number of feet from Summit Ave. I could be wrong...

Unknown said...

I never heard that. And not all streets are N-S or E-W.

In the newer suburbs in Washington county and Dakota County, there are so many streets to the mile since most of those lands that were farms fifty years ago were full townships, 6 miles x 6 miles.

And they have an alphabetical system that starts at the west end of the county with avenues starting with A going eastward, something like ten avenues for each letter. The streets are numbered.

Unfortunately, the Post Office talked them in not using any names that had already been used in another city. So there won't be a Rice Avenue or a Franklin Avenue, for example, in those later developed counties.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Anon is correct. This effective security system also serves to keep most of the rif-raff on the west side of the river since the simple-minded must have the obvious. :-)

Ray: I thought your restraining order prohibited you from crossing the river?


Unknown said...


You know that big fern that I always carry with my on my research missions?

Well it comes in handy getting across the Ford or Lake Street bridges!

swissmiss said...

You're starting to sound like Jesse Ventura complaining about the Irish designing the roads around here. They make perfect sense, numbers go in order, etc. It's the suburbs that are a mess!

I never go to Mpls, so I can't really comment :) Many shops are closer to me in Mpls and Bloomington, but my car just can't find its way there, I have drive 10 miles to Roseville or Maplewood to shop ;-}