Carnes Ave and Liggett St

Street Name Signs In Quasi-Public Areas

Editor’s note: This article is part of A Far-Too-Deep Gander at Street Name Signs, an occasional series by Wolfie Browender for Streets.mn.

Fort Snelling National Cemetery, the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus and the Minnesota State Fairgrounds are all public entities of a sort. Interestingly, all have special street name signs.

Fort Snelling National Cemetery

Ft Snelling National Cemetery street name sign
Labelle Drive honors Marine Private First Class James D. LaBelle. He received the Medal of Honor posthumously in recognition of dauntless courage and self-sacrifice that saved the lives of others during World War II. Pruden Drive recognizes Staff Sergeant Robert J. Pruden. An Army Infantryman, he received the Medal of Honor posthumously for “selfless concern for the welfare of his men and intrepidity in action” in Vietnam.

The street name signs at Fort Snelling National Cemetery reflect the solemn and reverential business of honoring deceased U.S. veterans. Some of the streets are named in honor of fallen veterans who are interned here. The signs are basic — unadorned, simply bearing white letters on a dark brown background (officially Dark Brown Anodized.) This is one of the Department of Veterans Affairs officially sanctioned color schemes for exterior cemetery signage.

University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus

U of M St. Paul Campus street name signs
The street name signs at the intersection of Dudley and Fairview Avenues on the U of M St. Paul agricultural campus.

The St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota has customized UMN Maroon signs with white lettering. The U’s official “Block M” and below it, the University of Minnesota official wordmark, are in UMN Gold and white respectively. I’m a fan of these signs mainly because of the unique color scheme and good readability.

As an aside, while researching this article I noticed a downward-pointing arrow in the negative space of the U’s Block M (below). Despite a thorough internet search, I have been unable to find any reference to or explanation of this.

The University of Minnesota Block M and the downward pointing arrow. Graphic courtesy of the University of Minnesota

Minnesota State Fairgrounds

Many fairgrounds streets are named after State Agricultural Society leaders and others who were involved in fashioning the State Fair from its planning and 1855 inception until 1940, according to the State Fair Trivia page.

My look around the fairgrounds was far from exhaustive, but I spotted four different sign styles. The intersection of Judson and Underwood Streets had one green sign with white lettering and one blue with white letters.

The reason for the two sign colors wasn’t apparent so I contacted the Minnesota State Fair. Turns out I’m not the only one wondering. The emailed response from the “media department” said, in part, “unfortunately we do not have any specific information for you about the significance of green versus blue signs. It would be true that the green signs are the more recent ones that replace the blue signs when necessary.”

Underwood & Judson
This Underwood Street sign at the intersection with Judson was the only blue sign I spotted.
Carnes Ave and Liggett St
Every street name sign on the fairgrounds should be adorned with Fairchild the gopher, as is the Liggett Street sign.

At Carnes Avenue and Liggett Street, the two signs have notable distinctions. Among them, the signs are printed in different fonts. The pièce de résistance is that the Liggett Street sign, as you can see, features Fairchild, the Fair’s gopher mascot, little straw hat and all! It just doesn’t get more fun than this!

As you can see, these three quasi-public entities take vastly different approaches to their street name signage. In the case of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, the only rule seems to be that there are no rules.

Wolfie Browender

About Wolfie Browender

Wolfie Browender has lived in Saint Paul with his wife, Sue, since 1986. He is proud to live in Minnesota's Capitol City. Wolfie is a native of the Milwaukee, WI area. The father of two adult daughters, Wolfie bikes for fun and exercise. You can follow his travels throughout Saint Paul on his blog Saint Paul By Bike-Every Block of Every Street at SaintPaulByBike.com.