I saw this photo on the MNHS archive a while back and it just floored me. Rice and University look nothing like this today, and indeed haven’t looked this way since they built that big white building with the dome there in 1904.
There used to be a streetcar line that cut diagonally along this corner, and led through St Paul’s now-vanished “Central Park” neighborhood. During the 50s, much of this area was razed for surface parking and the behemoth Sears store. Today, the LRT caternary wires hang in almost the exact same spot. Other than that, nothing else is the same.
It’s always sad to see how European the cities looked like and how much has been lost. Ironic how we are trying to get back to what we had.
Maybe a “Then and Now Part 2” is in order. Millets
Interesting, thanks for posting. I’ve always wondered about this area and how it has so much potential to come back as a really nice “capitol hill” neighborhood. Maybe now with LRT and the sears redevelopment the city ad the capitol planning board could think about broader planning for this area. It should be noted that there are some remnants — the Lutheran church at Park st and Univ., the Ford Bldg, the Leif Erikson statue in the park next to the State Office Building (and this building itself was there in ’47). Also, some of the newer buildings aren’t so bad, such as the League of cities buiding with its clock tower. The State owns so many parking lots in this area that ought to be developed into housing and mixed uses. This could be a great near-downtown neighborhood once again — make St. Paul more like Madison.
I wonder if anyone at the Capital Planning Board thinks about these things. The city doesn’t have much/any jurisdiction over this area, as you rightly point out. I worked at the State Office Building for years and the neighborhood completely sucks for walking around, unless you’re into cold metal and stone memorials.