West 7th Place in St. Paul has often been a small and cool pedestrian area for me. It’s also been a pre-event meetup place at (now closed) Wild Tymes for a concert at the X a few blocks away, or next door to it at the least desirable venue in the Twin Cities.
Dating back 100 years, The Palace Theatre was the new fixture in St. Paul’s cultural scene. Today’s acts share the stage with previous performers such as Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, and George Burns. To call this a mini-Broadway is way too much, although just the lights, a couple theaters, and the pedestrian mall gives me the perception of being in a different city, if just for a bit.
The theater was originally designed in the French “Beaux-Arts” architecture including the St. Francis Hotel. It still stands as the Seventh Place Residence apartments with mixed reviews. My favorite review quote for the place:
Pizza is Good
Really. See for yourself, but I digress.
My understanding of Beaux-Arts architecture is limited. Arched columns, and good use of space, kind of like… a theater. In the Palace Theatre itself, I went last Saturday to see both the theater and Charlie Parr for the first time and it was amazing! I was pleasantly surprised to hear it seats 2,500 people. That’s certainly a good use of space dating back to the original structure. To me, it looked like it fit just 800 or 900. I’m just glad they renovated and opened it back up in early 2017.
It took the City of St. Paul around a year and a half to renovate it. Or, 56 seconds.
How about the pedestrian aspect of it? This small block is perfect for it, but what does it connect to? I was certainly compelled to read a Streets post from 2014 called Restore the Grid! To the northeast lies a skyway entrance in the Wells Fargo Place but the hours are limiting and well, it’s a skyway. To the southwest lies St. Peter St. which was convenient to catch a Lyft ride home I suppose, but still a bit dangerous for pedestrians moving about in a car-centric area I call the Triangle of Death.
I am a big fan of the Capital City Bikeway Project. Outside of last Saturday, it’s been at least 6 months since I’ve been to downtown St. Paul so I’m not too privy to it, but I do find the nearby Jackson Street towards Kellogg Blvd. bikeway compelling and useful. I really look forward to see what happens on St. Peter to make the Triangle of Death safer. After all, you’re right by Heimie’s Haberdashery! Pull over and take a peek inside. For the bikeway project, I don’t know exactly when the whole project is due to be completed, but maybe you know!
Til’ next time, W. 7th Place. I may be hooked on The Palace and I’ll see you again soon. Skål!