From downtown Saint Paul, Wabasha Street crosses the Mississippi and marches due south until the bluffs force it to jog left. The bluffs here -- deep sandstone beneath a thin limestone cap -- tell some of St. Paul's geological history. Sand piles up…

Nature made it an island, but it is an island now only in name, its back channel filled in 1950 to connect it to the shore. It takes its name from Harriet Bishop (1817 -- 1883), who came from Vermont in 1847 to become the city’s first public school…

The building at the southeast corner of the site, finished in 1863, is one of the city's oldest, and the oldest outside of downtown. The story goes back even further, to St. Paul's second decade. In 1851 four nuns of the Sisters of St. Joseph…

The first stop of the westbound Selby Avenue streetcar after emerging from the tunnel was at the corner of Selby and Western. It made that corner desirable as a business address. And there was a time in the late 19th century when prosperous people,…

St. Paul began as a steamboat town, but that era lasted barely 30 years. Railroads, and the boom in population and prosperity that they brought, made St. Paul into a city. As the city outgrerw the downtown bowl, those with means moved up, literally,…

Built in 1886, the Swedenborgian Church was designed by Cass Gilbert, the St. Paul architect who later became famous for the Minnesota State Capitol, the Woolworth Building in New York, and the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. This was…

This is one of three F. Scott Fitzgerald landmarks in this part of St. Paul. The building itself is merely a solid representative of late Victorian apartment buildings. Its sole claim to fame is that Fitzgerald was born on the second floor on 24…

This is the largest of Cass Gilbert's four churches in the area (the others are the Virginia Street Swedenborgian Church, St. Clement's Episcopal, and the former German Bethlehem Church at the foot of Ramsey Hill). Though Gilbert was talented – he…

Before swift fire trucks, every neighborhood – especially those of wood frame construction, like most of St. Paul – needed a fire station. Making a fire call was slower and more complicated then. You had to alert and gather the firefighters, then as…

The sport of curling involves sliding 42-pound stones of polished granite down a sheet of expertly prepared ice towards a target. One team member launches the rock in a slow, majestic procession, while others influence its trajectory with frantic…

The familiar Midwest urban decline began along Selby during the Depression, accelerated after World War II, then hit its nadir with two nights of violence after the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968. Several Selby Avenue businesses were…

Completed in 1915, The Cathedral of St. Paul was the creation of Archbishop John Ireland, architect Emmanuel Masqueray, and the mostly anonymous artists, craftsmen, masons, stonecutters, laborers, and citizen contributors. It is 306 feet high with a…

The dominant Rice Street institution for the past 120 years has been St. Bernard’s Church and School. Like St. Mary’s several blocks to the south, St. Bernard’s has its roots in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Many of the original parishioners (the…

A century ago the Rice Street area, especially between Atwater and Front, was a new and densely populated neighborhood. There were lots of rooming houses and many big families. Lyton Place today is a quiet, two-block street running east from Rice to…

Just three blocks east of Rice Street lies, very quietly, one of St. Paul’s loveliest, most serene, and most interesting greenspaces – the Oakland Cemetery. Founded in 1853, Oakland is St. Paul’s oldest public cemetery. It is also a relatively early…

All along Rice Street commercial buildings predominate, designed for profit, not for show. Between 1880 and 1925, both sides of the street from Sycamore to Maryland filled with storefronts and workplaces. These were grocers, barbers and beauty…

One small ethnic community made a striking contribution to the Rice Street landscape. Around 1900, a few hundred Romanian emigrants from the Austro-Hungarian Empire made their way to St. Paul, and some settled in the North End. In due course they…