Street Lights and Neighborhood Status

Bob Spaulding breaks down the “it” status of St Paul neighborhoods based on streetlight over at e-democracy:

Streetlight Symbolism in the Saintly City

“Take a walk down that high-priestess of our City’s commercial corridors – Grand Avenue – and you’ll notice the dominance of the double lantern lighting. So dominant, in fact, that those double lanterns are the symbol of Grand Avenue (see, and until recently, the Macalester-Groveland Community Council.

What do the lights say to me? That Grand Avenue is “it” of course, the quintessential St. Paul, and has long-since arrived. Surely it wasn’t always this way, but to some, the streetlights seems to hold some sort of mythic power that draws people near. Or pedestrians near. Or something.

And so, other hopeful commercial corridors are apparently trying to woo the bountiful goodness of Grand Avenue with their own streetlights. Selby tried to woo Grand-hoppers a few blocks down Dale to Selby with some new lighting a few years back. And just a few blocks down Selby at Western, the streetlights seem so thick that it could act as a landing strip – and over the years it surely didn’t hurt. The Marshall and Ford bridges are also packed with lights, and an even larger pile of lights adorn each end of the bridge. With a sense of optimism, Phalen Corridor planted lantern lights very few feet, and there’s success there too.”

By the end of next summer, E Lake St will be an “it” street with new streetlights being installed as part of the street’s reconstruction. Look out, Grand Ave. There’s a newly streetlight-lifted street in town.

2 thoughts on “Street Lights and Neighborhood Status”

  1. Ironic. One thing I’ve found since moving to Saint Paul in November is that street lights around our neighborhood are sporadic, and for some stretches, non-existent. If you walk east at night on Hartford from Hamline, after you come to the top of the hill you’ll notice the continued walk east downhill is completely dark and ominous. I asked a co-worker who used to live in the area about this. She said that a big storm came through many years ago, knocking down trees and streetlights, and that the city replanted the trees but ignored the streetlights. I was a little surprised by this.

  2. Ah, yes, that would have been 1998. Here are some pics.

    I don’t think it was a tornado. Just really strong winds that whipped through Highland. The damage was particularly bad on Highland parkway and parallel streets running up from Cleveland to Snelling.

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