Saint Paul Alley Cat #2: Ranking “Significant Public Views”

Saint Paul’s “Significant” views. This map is in beta.


The draft of Saint Paul’s comprehensive plan has been released.  It is not as exciting as Minneapolis, or as ambitious as Red Wing’s.  Deep within lies the above slide, noting ‘significant public views’.  I had doubts so I went and looked myself.

Fairview looking east up Ford.


Cap Wigington’s iconic water tower is there, but to get an angle on it you end up with a better view of the bustling traffic at Ford and Fairview.  This view gets a 3/10.  Turn around, look west across the river at Minneapolis and you get a view worth 4/10.

Snelling looking east down Montreal.


The next view at Snelling looking towards the river down Montreal let’s you see the bluffs on the other side, but only as a brown smudge in the distance, framed by the comically enormous and chronically under trafficked Montreal.  What’s funny about this view is that within line of sight is a perch for an actually good view.

Pedestrian bridge between Highland Park Picnic Shelter and Circus Juventas


This neat little pedestrian bridge further down the hill actually provides a view that includes things to look at.  Since I fixed it for them I will give this view a 7/10.


Summit Overlook Park facing southeast.


Summit Overlook park has a great view, but the anti-human ridges installed on all the seating behind the view suck the romance out of things.  5/10.

Absolutely no relaxing in this picturesque park.


Finally, the cream of the Significant View crop. The view of The Capitol and our fair Downtown from the picturesque bridge dangling over I-94 at Dale. This view receives a Rusty Chain Link Fence/10.


We’re going to be making decisions off of these Comp Plans for a while going forward, but take them with a grain of salt, at least when it comes to the views.

[See also Saint Paul Alley Cat #1.]

5 thoughts on “Saint Paul Alley Cat #2: Ranking “Significant Public Views”

    1. Jesse Thornsen

      As part of the new MN Rules regarding the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area Plan public views of the river to be preserved need to be identified. The plan then needs to identify things that can negatively and positively affect those views and take steps towards preventing the negative things from happening.

      So the green arrows on that map are a MRCCA required element, the red arrows are something the City of St. Paul is doing in addition.

    2. Daniel Hartigkingledion

      While I highly doubt this is the reason the views are being mentioned, I would suggest that specifically enumerated ‘critical views’ helps reduce random neighborhood NIMBY’s abilities to bring lawsuits over tall buildings obstructing the view in non-critical view areas.

      Maybe I’m a hopeless optimist, but I can see how this could reduce lawsuit based obstructionism.

      1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

        Um, not necessarily. I know height limits were reduced in the West Side Flats master plan because people wanted to preserve views of the West Side bluffs from downtown. I hear the same argument a lot about views from the Mississippi River, some groups don’t want ugly buildings getting in the way of the “natural” trees etc.

      2. Adam MillerAdam Miller

        Perhaps I’m a pessimist, but the opposite sounds more likely to me. Establish some “critical views” (which is required, apparently). Then add some more. Them more. Voila, a bunch more ways to argue you can’t build anywhere.

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