Archive | Towns

Bemidji: A Town After my Heart

I realize that New Ulm is the urbanist’s dream and I truly do enjoy New Ulm (Herman the German – great!). However, Bemidji is giving New Ulm a run for its money. I adore Bemidji. Work travel used to take me there once or twice a year and now vacations do. Take note, urbanists! Over […]

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Placemaking and Animal People: Why “Night in the Woods” Rocks

Night in the Woods is a video game about an anthropomorphic cat. It’s also one of the most insightful explorations of the challenges struggling communities face today — and the hidden strengths that bring those communities together. Night in the Woods tells the story of a college dropout named Mae who returns to her hometown […]

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Where’s the Beef?

I had occasion to act like a real American this week and spend several hours driving a car (on World Car Free Day no less) and visit Real ‘Merica (heck yeah!) in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin (how’s that for foreign, you guys? Would you like more parentheticals?). One thing I love about visiting a new city […]

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Getting Around the Block: Metro vs. Outstate

In my last few articles, I’ve looked at the city block layouts of Minneapolis and Saint Paul (both downtown and citywide) and compared them to a few suburbs. I thought it would be useful to also make some comparisons with cities outside of the metro area, to see what they’re like. Above, I have a […]

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Minnesota Needs More Ghost Towns

Cargill may be headquartered in Minnesota now, but it got its start 150 years ago in a small Iowa town. Conover was one of many prairie communities that sprang up as the railroads ventured westward. It was sketched out in 1864 as the McGregor Western Railroad moved into the area and incorporated in 1866. The town […]

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What About Beauty?

This article was first published on Strong Towns, September 24, 2015 If I had to file a complaint against Strong Towns, it’s that our message sometimes gets wrapped up in data, economics, and the like. It can be somewhat hard to comprehend how all the financing and land values work, and at times, I’ve caught […]

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Main Street – Grand Marais, Minnesota

Grand Marais (French for Great Marsh) (map), on the North Shore of Lake Superior, has the benefit of being primarily a tourist town (the “coolest” small town in America, apparently). It’s nominal population of over 13oo belies its importance as a regional hub in the summer for tens of thousands of vacationing Minnesotans. The core […]

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Broadacre City in Minnesota

Frank Lloyd Wright is a renowned as a great architect. His city plans are less well-loved. In the 1930s he proposed Broadacre City, a new American landscape where everyone would have an acre of land, a car, and a gyrocopter. Fueling those cars requires gasoline. Gasoline requires Gas Stations. FLW, being an architect, had a gas […]

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Main Street – Thunder Bay, Ontario

Okay, Thunder Bay (map) is not quite in Minnesota, but it is the largest city northeast of Minneapolis, larger even than Duluth with over 100,000 people (though of course, when you get talking about metropolitan areas, the numbers change). “Thunder Bay” didn’t even exist as a named place until 1969, it was formed by the […]

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In Brainerd, Business 371 is for Business

I was up in Brainerd this weekend, visiting my sister. I’ve been up there several times since she bought a house just south of downtown a year and a half ago. Brainerd has a nice, walkable downtown. It has wide sidewalks, trees and benches, and active storefronts. Compared to the neighboring Baxter strip, it’s a breath […]

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