Downtown Saint Paul

I learned this week that Re/Max Results has sponsored a City and Neighborhood Film Festival this year and last. Downtown Saint Paul, by Nancy Ford was the 2012 first place winner. This film does a nice job of showing the charm and character of downtown Saint Paul. A lot of people like to demean downtown Saint Paul as a ghost town. I admit that I like to joke about how an auto manufacturer could easily make one of its ads showcasing the product speeding freely along empty downtown streets without obtaining a permit or closing any streets to traffic.

That said, downtown Saint Paul has really grown on me over the past two years since I’ve been spending much more time there. There’s a lot to love about it and it has some great places that downtown Minneapolis simply cannot match. Please share your thoughts about Saint Paul’s downtown in the comments below.

Matty Lang

About Matty Lang

Matty Lang has been interested in land use, transportation, and cities since he fell in love with Paris, France while studying there in 1998-1999. He is a filmmaker living in Minneapolis. He loves film, bicycling, and basketball. Follow him: Vimeo | @MattyLangMSP | Facebook

5 thoughts on “Downtown Saint Paul

  1. John Bailey

    Matt — does that fact that no one has commented mean that people don’t love downtown St. Paul? I’ll at least share some thoughts.

    When I moved here 5 years ago, I worked out of the 1st National building, which is a lovely, historic building. However, I found downtown completely depressing. There were all these beautiful summer days, and there was barely a soul on the street as everyone was in the skyways. I know it’s judgmental of me, but I used to find it unfortunate when I’d see office workers going for power walks at lunch…but in the skyways when it was 75 degrees and sunny outside! I’d go down tot the “Kellogg Mall” to eat my lunch but even that was a tad depressing and vacant.

    But as I slowly began to explore more pieces downtown, I began to experience it as three distinct places. There is Rice Park to the west and lowertown to the east, and I just happened to be in this middle section of urban renewal heinocity, which I’d describe as roughly bordered by Wabasha, Jackson, 7th, and Kellogg. Rice Park is lovely, the library is a gem, and the Landmark Center and Hamm Building are wonderful (though I’d say that I prefer the outside of Landmark to the inside.)

    But Lowertown and Mears Park are some of the finest urban fabric in either city. The scale of the buildings and the streets are pleasant at just about any mode, but especially on foot. I wish there were some way to marry the energy of downtown to Minneapolis to the scale of Lowertown, which I find so much more attractive than the one-way, treeless, auto-sewers of much of downtown Minneapolis.

    That’ a long winded way of saying that I dig downtown St. Paul. It just needs some more people.

    1. Matty LangMatty Lang Post author

      Thanks for the comment John! I agree that the “urban renewal” section of downtown Saint Paul sticks out like a sore thumb and is really a soul crusher to be around.

      I also agree that the skyways are a big part of why that part of downtown is so depressing. If we could shift most of the retail to the street level that would go a long way to liven things up. Since that’s unlikely to happen, I’m not holding my breath.

    1. Nathaniel

      Matty –

      No, real people are not having trouble commenting. The comment filtering system identifies first time users and tries to identify if it is legitimate, spam or trolls. If a comment gets blocked, it’s usually for a very good reason.

      The amount of Spam received by Streets.MN is overwhelming if not blocked by strict filters. The comment above is in reference to a submitted comment that was blocked.

      Regards -Nate

  2. John Bailey

    I don’t quite understand the other comment. My initial question about the lack of comments was just made as a joke.

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