The Main Way Saint Paul and Minneapolis are Different: an Investigation

I am aware many Saint Paul people have a sense of and celebrate the fact their city is special in various ways. On the other hand, it seems to me most Minneapolis people acknowledge what their various places have to offer although they do not have an identity with their city, while at the same time seem unaware of what makes Saint Paul the city it is. Why? I don’t know.
Well, there is a difference, literally right at your feet – water shut-off valves.

Here is a typical Saint Paul water shut-off valve, as viewed in front of the Wine Thief Wine Shop on St. Clair Avenue near Fairview Street:

Screen Shot 2020 03 30 At 3.23.56 Pm

Definitive evidence.

And here is a Minneapolis example:

Screen Shot 2020 03 30 At 3.23.37 Pm

An open-and-shut case.

As you can see, Saint Paul is proud of its identity – even with how they identify their boulevard water shut-off valves. Minneapolis citizens, on the other hand, hold their main source of pride in their assumption they are better than Saint Paul.

About Robert Roscoe

“A camera teaches you how to see without a camera.” Dorothea Lange My professional experience includes over 36 years of architectural office experience, with the last 21 years as principal of Design For Preservation. My education includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History, and five years at the School of Architecture, University of Minnesota. I served 21 years on the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission and I have written articles for Architecture Minnesota, a publication of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. I have given lectures on preservation architecture at the University of Minnesota School of Architecture and various public forums. Art photography is a main avocation for me, focusing on capturing images of abandoned parts of the built environment, and I have been featured in several art exhibitions. I have co-authored a book on County Catholic Churches and am the author of the book Milwaukee Avenue – Community Renewal in Minneapolis. Also, I am editor of the infrequently published Journal of American Rocket Science.

24 thoughts on “The Main Way Saint Paul and Minneapolis are Different: an Investigation

  1. Mark

    Minneapolis doesn’t have to worry about people wandering around wondering which city they’re in 😉

    1. AngO banjo

      Hahahaha that is SO true, if u get lost in mpls just go up a block and turn around- lost in st paul and pray u spot a friendly local to holler too or youre going on an adventure!

  2. Dan MarshallDan Marshall

    Those aren’t actually water shut off valves. They are they access covers to the pipe that leads to the valve, which is several feet underground, below the frostline. If you ever fail to pay your water bill, as I once did, you will observe a city crew remove the cover and insert a long steel tool into the hole to shut the valve. If the access pipe is full of dirt, they will first use compressed air to clear the pipe, which creates a mini dirt geyser. If you live in Saint Paul, after observing this dirt geyser you will quickly run a check to the water department office on Hamline Avenue and the crew will return later in the day to reopen the valve. All of it will be very friendly and neighborly and your family will soon forgive your bill paying oversight. How this situation plays out in Minneapolis may or may not be similar.

    Also, you may notice in your pictures that the StP cover is intact while the Mpls cover is missing its bolt. Take from that what you will.

    1. Frederick Hippchen

      Well, if you were to miss your water bill, you would be issued a citation with a mandatory court appearance. The judge would stay a 6 month sentence in the Work House pending satisfactory completion of a “mindfulness” rehab program.

  3. John Gaylord

    Also, it is Fairview Avenue. We are not that strict when it comes to street naming.

  4. Russ Booth

    There are some very ornate “Minneapolis City of Lakes” manhole covers in our streets this side of the river. They were given the endearing name: SEWR-2000-R1.

    I must also mention a different city in this context because of how frequently its name appears in Minneapolis streets’ embossed street infrastructure: Neenah, Neenah, Neenah, Neenah, Neenah, Neenah, Neenah, Neenah, Neenah, Neenah, Neenah, Neenah, Neenah, Neenah, Neenah, Neenah.

    That much Neenah appears at EACH intersection in some parts of Minneapolis! Neenah Foundry in Neenah WI made much of the iron plates and grates found throughout town.

    Might make you wonder what city you’re in?

    How many non-functional $50,000 water fountains does St Paul have though? Minneapolis has St Paul beat in this category!

  5. Patrick D Claflin

    I grew up in Minneapolis which is definitely more fast paced and hip then St.Paul. But if you really want to settle down and raise a family and have some normalcy in your life the understated St. Paul has Mpls beat.

    1. Pete Barrett

      We in St.Paul don’t go for the false business of what TD Mischke called Big Time MPLS. We’re secure with ourselves, and don’t worry about proving ourselves.

    1. Dury Lama

      You surely meant Minneapolis with this “inferiority complex” statement. I can feel your pain buddy. I was born at Abbott grew up in Tonka and now reside in Mac-Grove.

  6. Dury Lama

    Water shut off valves like the dude, or duder, or el duderino already mentioned, are well (no pun) underground. Being that as it may, Saint Paul(never abbreviate Saint) actually has more letters in our airport code than our friends in Minneapolis.

  7. Joe S.

    That’s an April fools article if I’ve ever read one, you guys were duped… trolled on troll day.

  8. Dr RJ Nichol

    Well St. Paul was always a Catholic city and Minneapolis was always a Protestant one and in fact was considered one of the most anti-semetic cities in the country because of the Lutheran influence.

  9. stevnim

    I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time to use a comma instead of an apostrophe in WATERW,KS. No one would actually take a picture and publish it to the world.

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