Twin Cities: Part 2 - Saint Paul

After seeing Minneapolis with all its active construction, daring shapes and glassy buildings, St. Paul, the other part of the Twin Cities...

After seeing Minneapolis with all its active construction, daring shapes and glassy buildings, St. Paul, the other part of the Twin Cities, seemed a bit sleepy and perhaps even lazy. After all, it's a state capital with many administrative buildings, and I've never found state or federal workers to be super active or super fast. They take their time, so does the City of St. Paul.

The most prominent building in St. Paul is the Cathedral of St. Paul. There is no way you can miss it while downtown whether you walk, ride a bike or drive on a highway.
Opened in 1915, the cathedral sits on the Cathedral Hill overlooking Mississippi River and the rest of St. Paul.  
Despite its size, the building does not look bulky or sluggish. In my list of architectural successes in the US, the Cathedral of St. Paul ranks very high.
Another beautiful building in the city is the Minnesota State Capitol that sits on the opposite side of the highway from the Cathedral of St. Paul. Built in 1905, its design is inspired by Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.
I liked how a busy highway has been hidden from the sight, and only its noise reveals itself.
If not that noise, downtown Saint Paul would have been completely silent once all government workers have gone home after a working day.  
A very interesting monument commemorates Roy Wilkins, a leader of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People who was raised in Saint Paul and fought for civil rights and equality in the US in 1930s-1970s "The walls symbolizes barriers created by racial segregation and other efforts to impede the progress toward achieving equality. The spiral ascends above and through those walls", says the info sheet at the monument.
The central part of Saint Paul is very compact and easily walkable.
Whether it's accidental or done with a purpose, I really liked how different architectural styles used over the past 150 years blended together in a single ansemble.
Fairy tail style brightly coloured red and green domes of the Landmark Center make the latter look like it's been build very recently. In fact, the building is almost 120 years old and would have been demolished in the 1970s had the group of Saint Paul's citizens not saved it. Now, Landmark Center is federally protected and houses a number of art organizations and galleries.
Supposedly good and famous candy shop.
Another cultural destination worth visiting is Fitzgerald Theater opened in 1910. Saint Paul is a birthplace of F. Scott Fitzgerald, an iconic American classical writer who works include "The Great Gatsby", "Tender is the Night" and unfinished "The Last Tycoon". 
In 2014, a light rail called Metro Transit connected downtown Minneapolis with downtown Saint Paul, so you no longer need to depend on your car to visit both sides of the Twin Cities.
It's interesting to see how many American cities built their transit systems in late 19th - beginning of 20th centuries, then almost abandoned them as the car ridership per capita grew significantly, and now are turning back to the idea of mass transit to fight traffic jams and cut pollution. Below is the remnants of the Selby Avenue streetcar line closed in 1953 and a picture of what it used to look like (a picture of Minnesota Historical Society).
Downtown Saint Paul hosts another fascinating place which looks like an eye sore at first glimpse. A combined power and heat plant actually uses urban wood waste such as tree trimmings, storm debris, scrap lumber and crop leftovers and as a fuel source.  
If you think that Saint Paul's attractions do not exist beyond its downtown, you would most certainly be wrong. Cathedral Hill with its mansions along Summit Avenue and adjacent streets is yet another place worth visiting. 
I discovered it by accident when looking for a parking close to the Cathedral of St. Paul. 
Each mansion is probably 100 years old, so are the tall trees whose canopy provides a shady relief on a summer day. Not sure how hot it can get in Saint Paul though.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, who spent his childhood in Cathedral Hill, once described his house in this neighbourhood as "a house below the average on a street above the average." 
This concludes my two-part article about the Twin Cities in Minnesota. I hope it inspired you to visit them and bring your own memories even if you have a few hours to spare. Enjoy!

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