Author Archive | Chris Steller

Foot Traffic Ahead 2019

Report Ranks Mpls.-St. Paul’s Walkable Urban Spaces 4th for Social Equity

It’s a bit of a head-scratcher, but a recent report puts Minneapolis-St. Paul’s walkable urban places fourth among the nation’s 30 biggest cities for social equity. Social Equity Index rankings aren’t the main focus of “Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros,” but it’s the subcategory where the Twin Cities shine the […]

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Waiting For a Sign: ‘Don’t Block the Intersection’

The secret is out. Drivers are needlessly, pointlessly blocking downtown intersections, causing backups of Metro Transit buses, as Bill Lindeke detailed in an article for MinnPost (“Is there a solution for the buses vs. blockers bottleneck in downtown Minneapolis?“). The problem is acute at certain points, such as where Nicollet Mall meets Washington Avenue South […]

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In 1923, You Could Buy Pedestrian Insurance for 75 Cents

If you subscribed to the Minneapolis Daily Star in 1923, you could get a year’s worth of pedestrian insurance for an extra 75 cents.   The add-on deal was just what it sounds like: insurance coverage for injuries (including fatal injuries) you might incur while walking across the street. The offer, through the North American Accident […]

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‘One Killed Here’: Early 20th-Century Minneapolis Traffic Safety Campaigns

The advent of automobiles and accompanying pedestrian casualties shook up Minneapolis. Over the first half of the 20th century, the city saw a series of public awareness campaigns led by municipal government and local newspapers, with slogans that evolved from “Safety Over Sorrow” and “One Killed Here” to “Traffic Victims” and “Safest Big City … […]

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‘I Am King of the Streets Because I Am Only a Pedestrian’

  “I am king of the streets because I am only a pedestrian.” That was the philosophy of a self-described lowly municipal employee during his 15 minutes of fame in an article on an inside page of the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune in 1916. Horace E. Johnson sauntered city streets as he wished, the newspaper reported, and […]

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Take the Crosswalk to Nowhere While You Still Can

  Over the years people in Minneapolis and Saint Paul have dubbed several dubious landmarks “Bridge to Nowhere” and “Skyway to Nowhere.” As fashionable nicknames and features of the cityscape, they come and go. But one such landmark has quietly persisted for decades: Minneapolis’s Crosswalk to Nowhere. You find it at the intersection of Main […]

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Exactly Where Does The Song “Skyway” Take Place?

Here’s a question left hanging downtown for more than 30 years: If Paul Westerberg was singing about a particular skyway in the 1987 Replacements song, “Skyway,” which skyway was it? That mystery lies at the confluence of two local cottage industries of inquiry: The history of skyways and the geography of the Replacements. Studies of […]

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The City: Where Ping Pong Tables Go To Die

I used to say the internet was suburban. Theory: Facebook (and possibly the Internet) is suburban. Twitter is urban. — Chris Steller (@chris_steller) April 13, 2013 The idea being, both on the internet and in the suburbs you get the feeling you could be anywhere. Nowadays I might offer some serious quibbles with that proposition, […]

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Please Color Outside the Lines

Recently I realized my complaints about three new urban improvements boiled down to the same thing: Careful thought and design work seemed to stop at the edge of the project. Something just outside the lines had screwed it up. My first and longest-standing complaint like this concerned the lack of a bus shelter on University […]

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