What Travel Writers Say

Pig's Eye to Saint Paul; Minnesota's Virtuous Transformation

© By Adam Southwood
  Padelford Packet Boat Without a significant name change, visitors to Minnesota's capital, St. Paul, might otherwise tour Pig's Eye! The settlement originated at present-day Lambert's Landing but was referred to as Pig's Eye, when the alliterative Pierre Parent, a French-Canadian whiskey trader opened a popular tavern here. Later, Father Lucien Galtier, first Catholic pastor, established the Log Chapel of St. Paul and declared that the settlement be called by that name. The city lies mainly on the north bank of the Mississippi River, and adjoins Minneapolis, the state's largest city. The "Twin Cities" boast a population of 3.5 million residents.
     St. Paul, an early steamboat terminus, developed as a result of fur trade-related river commerce, pioneer travel and shipping of farming goods. Grain-laden barges cruise down the Mississippi alongside old-fashioned sternwheelers full of sightseers.
     If you visit in winter, Saint Paul offers a Carnival dating to 1886 when a New York reporter caustically described Saint Paul as "another Siberia." It's regularly attended by 350,000 visitors and showcases ice sculpting, a treasure hunt, winter foodstuff and a wonderful ice palace.
     Visitors here tend to migrate to nearby Mall of America in Bloomington which offers 520 retail stores with restaurants, an indoor theme park
and a walk-through aquarium. Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom and Sears anchor three levels of retail stores, the fourth level geared to entertainment.
     In St. Paul, here are the top choices for the avid tourist:
City Hall and Ramsey Court House: at 15 W. Kellogg Blvd. Each of 18 floors in this Art Deco building is finished in a different world wood. Paintings depict pioneer days and modem St. Paul. A 36-foot-high onyx statue, "Vision of Peace," dominates the marble concourse. Phone (651) 266-8500.
Minnesota State Capitol: at 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The Italianate Renaissance building incorporates sculpture, stencilled ceilings, murals and stone, 25 varieties of marble, limestone, sandstone and granite used in the construction. The self-supporting marble dome is among the world's tallest. Phone (651) 296-2881.
Minnesota Children's Museum: at 10 W. 7th St. "Habitot" is designed for infants and toddlers; World Works encourages creativity and problem solving; Earth World immerses children in lifelike Minnesota habitats; Our World allows children to play "grown-ups" in a child-size environment. The roof top Art Park, overlooking downtown St. Paul, merges art and nature; families splash their hands in a stream bed, build castles in the sand and climb a 12-foot tree fort. Phone: (651) 225-6000.
Science Museum of Minnesota: at 120 W. Kellogg Blvd., offering hands-on exhibits that allow one to touch a tornado, walk under a two-story dinosaur and climb aboard a Mississippi River towboat. An Egyptian, mummy, a gallery devoted to the human body, anthropology displays and the Experiment Gallery are favorites. Phone (651) 221-9444.

McNeeley Conservatory  McNeeley Conservatory  Landmark Center  History Center  Como Town

     And these items are also worth a visit:
Cathedral of St. Paul: at 239 Selby Ave. Styled after Rome's St. Peter's Cathedral, it opened in 1915 and seats 3,000 with the Shrine of Nations of special interest. Phone (651) 228-1766.
Cherokee Park: at Cherokee Heights Blvd. and Smith Ave. Overlooks the Mississippi and good for picnics.
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory: at 1225 Estabrook Dr. Phone (651) 487-8200.
Fort Snelling State Park: off SR 5 on Post Rd. It occupies 2,900 acres along the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. Phone (612) 725-2389. The restored limestone fort was the northernmost military outpost in the early 19th century. Phone (612) 726-1171.
Gibbs Museum of Pioneer and Dakotah Life: at 2097 Larpenteur Ave. W. near Cleveland Ave. Depicts a prosperous farm in the late 1800s. Phone (651) 646-8629.
Goldstein Museum Of Design: at 1985 Buford Ave. in McNeal Hall on the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus featuring collections of costume. graphic design, decorative arts and, textiles. Phone (612) 624-7434.
Indian Mounds Park: Sioux burial mounds east of the business district overlooking the Mississippi. Phone (651) 266-6400.
James J. Hill House: at 240. Summit Ave. The 1891 Victorian house of the founder of the Great Northern 'Railroad. Phone (651) 297-2555.
Landmark Center: at 75 W. 5th St. The Old Federal Courts Building was completed in 1902. Features include a four-story atrium, a marble tile foyer and four restored courtrooms. The center also houses the Schubert Club Museum of Musical Instruments and the American Association of Woodturners Gallery. Phone (651) 292-3267.
Minnesota History Center: at 345 Kellogg Blvd. W. Exhibits include a 'Soo Line boxcar. a scale-model grain elevator and hands-on exhibits. Phone (651) 259-3000.
Minnesota Museum of American Art: check out our new location at 408 St Peter Street, Suite 419, St Paul, MN 55102, Telephone: (651) 797-4057.
Padelford Packet Boat Co. 2 mi. southwest of the Wabasha St. Bridge off Plato Blvd. near St. Paul at Harriet Island with sternwheelers modelled after 19th-century Mississippi riverboats offering 1.5-hour excursions around Fort Snelling. Phone (651) 227-1100.

City Hall  Childrens Museum  Cathedral  Capitol  Capitol

     Sports fans arriving here will also be treated to pro baseball (Twins), basketball (Timberwolves), hockey (Wild) and football (Vikings) as well as fishing, canoeing and sailing. The area rivers provide opportunities for boating and water skiing.
     Tired of sight-seeing? St. Paul's downtown shopping district is bounded by Robert, 5th, St. Peter and 7th streets. And don't forget the Fitzgerald Theatre named after famed F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Adam Southwood writes for Canadian, U.S. and European magazines and newspapers. He is a graduate of McMaster University in Hamilton and UWO in London with an interest in culture and history and has produced several educational programs for TV.

Photo Credits
Courtesy of Visit St. Paul

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