Category: History

Lift & Swing Bridges of the Twin Cities

A Bicycle Tour of Twin Cities Lift and Swing Bridges

From the beginning, the key to coexistence of rail and river traffic has been a half dozen movable swing and lift bridges. Unlike Duluth’s and Stillwater’s lift bridges, many Twin Cities lift and swing bridges operate in underappreciated obscurity. Let’s take a bicycle tour!

Photograph of the streetcar steamboat Minnehaha on Lake Minnetonka in 2014.

When the Twin Cities Had Streetcar Boats

Late last month, one of the most unique chapters in Minnesota’s transportation history was permanently enshrined in the public record through the National Register of Historic Places, the official list of the nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. The newly-listed steamboat Minnehaha is the lone survivor of the Twin City Line’s once-famous “streetcar boat” service. […]

Mosquito Hunter Jenni Kunz checks a stormwater basin for mosquito habitat.

The Mosquito Hunter

Seeing St. Paul by bike is an enriching view.

Take it on Down to Highway 61: A Book Review

Nathan Johnson’s Highway 61 Through Minnesota is published by Arcadia Press in their Images of America series. The series has, according to their website, a whopping 8,223 titles. Just 69 of these are from Minnesota. It’s a proven format, almost certainly a commercial success, and yet I’m sad to report it doesn’t really work for […]

Concrete support pillars are among dozens of remains scattered throughout the Gopher Ordinance Works, a WWII munitions factory in Rosemount.

Embracing Ruins as Historic Preservation

For the most part, these sites are hidden behind railroads, below river bluffs, or at the end of gated dirt roads. We tend to either ignore or look at them as failures, awaiting either a visionary creative reuse or the wrecking ball.

North 1st Street looking south toward 4th Avenue North in 1920

Historic Paving Tour of the Minneapolis Warehouse District – Sunday, May 16th

Minneapolis has oft been accused of not having done enough to preserve its historic structures, particularly in reference to the loss of the Gateway District, and especially when contrasted with successful efforts to save ornamentally clad buildings in Saint Paul. The jeers have endured decades of evolution or devolution in the Twin Cities, depending upon […]

21 North Washington Avenue, Minneapolis.

No, We Should Not Abolish the HPC. But It Could Look Different.

An essay posted January 15, 2021 on streets.mn entitled “Preserve The Future, Not Just The Past” is a fairly typical critique of heritage preservation and the role of heritage preservation commissions (HPCs) in American cities. The article points to the frequently absurd minutia and short-sightedness of HPC meetings and staff reports, but does not fully […]