Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Under-Appreciated Alley

The humble alley is one of the key features that make our city neighborhoods distinct from our suburban neighbors. Do you ever notice how most homes in the suburbs greet the street with a two-to-three car garage and driveway? Here in St. Paul and Minneapolis most homes have garages tucked away in the back with alleyway access. I find that this makes for a much more pleasant environment as I walk, drive and bike through the cities' residential neighborhoods. Unlike other places I've lived, the neighborhoods here tend to have few scary alleys -- so my days of constant vigilance for rats, marauders, and rotting food seem to be over.

In fact, the alley behind our home even has historical significance. It is on a diagonal--which according to Larry Millett, is rare in St. Paul, and it is part of the old territorial road system that linked St. Paul to Saint Anthony Falls.
I love imagining the clip-clop of horse shoes and the bustle of goods moving between the two cities when I walk our dog down the alley at night. It's also amazing how I can see the modern twinkle of lights from the IDS and 226 South 6th buildings in downtown Minneapolis from this vantage too.

Image: from isn't an alley in the Twin Cities and I'm not actually sure where it is!

Map: From the Hamline-Midway History Corps: E.S. Norton Real Estate Map of Saint Paul - Hamline Midway detail (1886)

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