Monday, July 21, 2008

Where is the coffee shop?

I was in Minneapolis/St. Paul metro region again last week. The first time (two weeks ago) I rented a car (big mistake), so this time I figured I would take public transit around even though I had three separate meetings in two cities and one burb. Not renting a car made for a much better and more pleasurable trip than the previous week. My main problem was I had a 4 o'clock meeting in St. Paul on Wednesday, the day I arrived. I figured I was due in at 1:30 so that was plenty of time to get from the airport to downtown St. Paul.

I jumped on the LRT and was in downtown Minneapolis by 2:00. The express bus (94) came about ten minutes later and I arrived in St. Paul around 2:45. Realizing that I had about a good hour to kill, I figured I'd go grab a snack and some caffeine. After circling a few blocks for about ten minutes (I had Google mapped this before so I knew a few coffee shops were in the area) I was having zero luck. With the monkey suit on and roller suit case in hand (it was a nice 90 degree day), I figured I would ask the next person I saw where to get some coffee.

I asked a woman who was clearly taking her cigarette break. She told me there are a few, but they are all in the skyway. I had what Oprah would call an "ah ha!" moment. The entire time I was thinking St. Paul is so sparse and sleepy, but I was mistaken; all the action is in the skyway. I made my way in and finally located a coffee shop to hang out at for the next 45 minutes.

The next day I found myself in the same predicament, but in Minneapolis. Unlike NYC, where the streets are overflowing with people during lunch time, in Minneapolis (where the streets are active) and St. Paul the skyway is the place that gets most of the action. While I realize this skyway system is a lifesaver in the Arctic cold months, the inhabitants of these two cities have adopted to life in the skyways. These skyways are quite the urban phenomena, from an outsider's perspective, and really are an amazing system that connects most of the large downtown buildings together. I plan on doing some research on these skyways, so expect more info down the road.


Anonymous said...

You might also be interested in the Houston Tunnels.

Snak Shak said...

Skyways would be a great topic. When they were putting in the earliest skyways, there was concern that they would destroy street life, resulting in closed shops and an abandoned CBD. We make jokes about it, but that seems to have been the case in St. Paul, but not MPLS. Calgary is expanding their "Plus 15" system (skyways 15 meters(?) above street level. People like that as well.