Opening Day 2013! (part 1)

April 27, 2013

Part 1 of 2

20.3 miles total

It's a great day to be outside!

It’s a great day to be outside!

There are very few days when nearly everyone I see while riding is visibly happy, just excited about the day. Today was one of those magnificent days. Seventy-plus degree weather finally arriving to chase the never-ending winter and snow away will do that. Not only were lots of people out in every neighborhood that I visited, most had a smile, wave or hello for me. What a day to be out!

Today’s trip was to Payne-Phalen via Downtown. I’ve been avoiding Downtown, not because I don’t want to ride there, but because it’s a formidable task to write about the concentration of notable buildings, history and tales I expect to find. My strategy is to take it a street or two at a time on my way to another neighborhood.

Several miles into the excursion I rode east past Linwood Recreation Center on St. Clair Avenue where Parks and Rec employees were readying a portable climbing wall. Nearby, several excited children and their parents were waiting to try it.

Getting ready to scale the climbing wall at Linwood Rec Center.

Getting ready to scale the climbing wall at Linwood Rec Center.

Alex (pronounced Alec) Glass has worked for the Parks and Recreation Department for 26 years and is now a recreation director. He told me this is the sixth year he’s brought the climbing wall to Linwood’s Spring Celebration.

“I think when we first came out here by the end of the day, we probably did 150 climbs or so. As of last year, we were in the 300 climb range.”

City-wide, Alex says they’ve gone from 25 events and 2,500 climbs to 67 events with 23,000 climbs in 2012. The portable climbing wall is one example of Park and Rec’s philosophy change. “It used to be get ‘em to the center. Now its about engaging folks where they’re comfortable at and then making a connection to the bigger system.”

Alex Glass and his assistants, Jordan and Askar, in front of the portable climbing wall.

Alex Glass, right, and his assistants, Jordan, left, and Askar, center, in front of the portable climbing wall.

As recreation director, Alex and his employees are responsible for much more than the climbing wall, “We schedule all of the classes that happen in all of the rec centers, hire those instructors, do trainings, we write curriculum for after-school and our summer programs, (and) staff development for those programs.”

Jordan attaches harness on a young climber.

Jordan attaches harness on a young climber.

Askar poses with the Parks and Rec truck.

Askar poses with the Parks and Rec truck.

Alex is an unabashed supporter of Saint Paul Parks and Rec programs. “I challenge you go to almost any other state in this nation and find a system as extensive or as accommodating as ours. We believe in participation; that’s why so many things are free.”

As a life-long Saint Paul resident, Alex is just as enthusiastic about his town. “This is a great family place, it’s clean, great education, great health. I think that If people are honest about the five most important things to themselves and their family, they’re here in Saint Paul.”

With climbers lining up, I excused myself and resumed riding east on St. Clair and toward Downtown.

Henry Courts, Western Avenue near downtown, offers one bedroom apartments for people with disabilities.

Henry Courts, 134-154 Western Avenue near downtown, offers one bedroom apartments for people with disabilities.

The apartments of Winslow Commons at 160 Western Avenue are for the elderly.

Next door to Henry Courts, Winslow Commons Apartments at 160 Western Avenue are for the elderly.

Less than a block away, on the 300 block of Goodrich Avenue…

The first of two cars undergoing repairs on Goodrich Avenue between Western and Garfield.

The first of two cars undergoing repairs on Goodrich Avenue between Western and Garfield.

Goodrich repairs 2

Three people work on this Ford.

And on the same block, a baby and mom enjoyed the wonderful weather.

On the same block of Goodrich, a baby and mom enjoyed the wonderful weather.

Scientology

The Church of Scientology.

Downtown at last, at the corner of Wabasha Avenue and Exchange Street. What was once the Science Museum of Minnesota has been the Twin Cities home of the Church of Scientology since October 2011.

McNally Smith College of Music was established as Music Tech.

McNally Smith College of Music was established as Music Tech.

Across the street, on the west side of Wabasha, is another of Saint Paul’s numerous institutions of high learning. McNally Smith College of Music offers programs and degrees in music performance, recording technology, music business, hip-hop studies, and composition and songwriting to about 600 students, according to the school’s website.

Some of the garbage receptacles downtown prominently display this logo.

Some of the garbage receptacles downtown prominently display this logo.

h h h h h h is for History Theater at 30 East 10th Street at Cedar  1911 which shares the main McNally Smith College building.

h h h h h h is for History Theater at 30 East 10th Street at Cedar Street. 

The History Theater shares this building with McNally Smith College.

The History Theater shares this building with McNally Smith College.

Elmer L. Anderson Building

The Elmer L. Andersen Human Services Building, 540 Cedar Street.

The red brick building in the background is the Elmer L. Andersen Department of Human Services Building. It is named in honor of the former Republican Governor and state Senator. Andersen’s political endeavors are just a small part of his extensive resume. The Minnesota Historical Society has a good biography of Andersen at http://www.mnhs.org/people/governors/gov/gov_32.htm

The unfinished 10th street Green Line light rail station frames the Capitol.

The unfinished 10th street Green Line light rail station frames the Capitol.

The 10th Street Station sign.

The 10th Street Station sign.

A gentleman who I soon learned is named Jesse, greeted me with a friendly smile and hello as I took some pictures. Jesse and I talked for a couple of minutes while he waited for a bus back to his St. Anthony-Midway home.

Jesse

Jesse, with the Elmer L. Andersen Building behind him.

I asked Jesse if he’s always so friendly to strangers and told me he is. “You know, when I meet people in the store, I just speak to them. Old ladies and young folks, you know. ‘Hey young man, how you doin’?’ You know, just speak to someone, even if they don’t speak back.”

Jesse wasn’t always outgoing, he told me. “I had to grow into all of this. You know, gettin’ peaceful with my self and just accepting things the way they are. My days of thinking about getting rich are still there but I’m not chasing them, you know what I’m sayin’. I’ll be 55 this year and I’m just kinda mellowin’ into life.

Jesse was very candid in the couple of minutes we chatted. He mentioned matter-of-factly that he lives in Saint Paul in a homeless shelter near University Avenue on Saint Paul’s western edge.

(I’ve had) “a hard background but no matter where you come from believe me, you have choices.  And the best choice for me is to look in the Word-the Word helps.”

Jesse added that he wants to go back to the Hubbs Center to resume his quest for his G.E.D. “I stopped ‘cause I was looking for work, I was kinda figuring out what I want to do.”

“My readin’ is getting better. You know, school work is getting better but I didn’t spend too much time in school but I had to learn that with patience too. It’s hard, especially for an older person.”

Just as Jesse finished that thought, his bus arrived. He paused another moment to allow me to photograph him, we thanked each other and he jumped on the bus.

Fires Station 8

Fire Station 8

The Saint Paul Fire Department’s new Station 8 is located in the eastern end of the Anderson Human Resources Building. Open just a couple of years, Station 8 moved to 65 East 10th Street from the old Fire Department headquarters just across Minnesota Street. (Department headquarters are now in the same building as Station 1 at West Seventh and Randolph Avenue.)

The pillars surrounded by support structures are remnants of the former Fire Department headquarters/Station 8 and are being incorporated into the Penfield development now under construction.

The pillars surrounded by support structures are remnants of the former Fire Department headquarters/Station 8 and are being incorporated into the Penfield development now under construction. 

The original Central High School, which stood where the Penfield is being built, from 1883 until 1929 when it was knocked down and replaced by the Fire Department headquarters.

The original Central High School stood where the Penfield is being built from 1883 until 1929 when it was knocked down and replaced by the Fire Department headquarters.  Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

The Penfield, in developers’ jargon, is called a “mixed-use project”. That means there will be multiple facilities, in this case about 300 “market rate” apartments and a Lund’s Grocery Store, in the complex.

Penfield 5Originally proposed as a 30 story condo project, that version of the Penfield fell victim to the crash of the housing market. In a controversial move, the City of Saint Paul became the developer for the $62 million dollar Penfield instead of a private company to get the project off the drawing board.

At 33 stories, The Pointe of Saint Paul is downtown’s fifth tallest buildings.

At 33 stories, The Pointe of Saint Paul is downtown’s fifth tallest building. It’s located across 10th Street from the Penfield.

The wall ad is a reminder of the Produce Exchange Bank which was constructed in 1915. The bank was built to serve a sizeable city market nearby.

The wall ad is a reminder of the Produce Exchange Bank which was constructed in 1915. The bank was built to serve a sizable city market nearby.

The Produce Exchange Building as it’s known today, has businesses on the first floor and lofts above

The Produce Exchange Building as it’s known today, has businesses on the first floor and lofts above. The building is located on the corner of 10th and Jackson Streets.

From Downtown, I continued to trek eastward toward Payne Avenue and the Railroad Island neighborhood. Details of the rest of today’s ride will come in part 2 of this post. Meanwhile, here is the map of the entire ride: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/199326574

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