Your days of stopping in St. Paul’s skyways are over

If you’re a veteran of the St. Paul skyway system — scene of a recent dispute over what’s public and what’s private when it comes to sitting down, you may recall — you’ve probably noticed this week that there are great spots to stay warm while waiting for the Green Line or bus to make an appearance.

Metro Transit, willingly or not, encouraged this when it waited until fall to knock down several bus shelters with heat. By the time winter came along, there was no place for people to wait.

This, along with the attraction of the skyway as a place not to freeze, creates a fair amount of tension between people and the private companies that own the buildings.

Colleague Julia Schrenkler noticed this in the Alliance Bank Building (the old Norwest building) that we hadn’t noticed before. We’re among the daily “skyway walkers” (who keep moving).

Welcome to St. Paul, everyone! The most romantic city in America. Now how about moving that carcass of yours along.

Is it a crime to stop moving? Let’s check the skyway ordinance that’s cited on the sign.

Sec. 140.02. – Prohibited acts.
No person shall commit any of the following acts within the pedestrian skyway system or within any pedestrian mall:

(1)Sit, kneel, lounge, lie or otherwise recline upon floors or stairs.
(2)Stand upon any radiator, seat or other fixture.
(3)Commit any act which tends to create or incite, or creates or incites, an immediate breach of the peace. Such conduct shall include, without limitation by reason of this specification: fighting; racing; obscene language, noisy or boisterous conduct tending to cause a breach of the peace; personally abusive epithets, or words or language of an offensive, disgusting or insulting nature, which epithets, words or language when addressed to the ordinary citizen are, as a matter of common knowledge, inherently likely to provoke a violent reaction of fear, anger or apprehension; and words, language or statements which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.
(4)Stand, stop or otherwise linger in such a manner as to obstruct or impede or tend to obstruct or impede the free passage of pedestrians through the area. If the impediment or obstruction is caused by the size of a particular group of persons, all persons within the group shall be equally subject to this chapter.
(5) Play a radio or tape player so as to permit the sound from the radio or tape player to be audible to other persons, except that peace officers may play radios tuned to official police frequencies.
(6) Commit any other act otherwise prohibited by local, state or federal law.
(7) Use of skateboards, in-line skates or similar devices.
(Ord. No. 17874, § 1, 10-8-91)

  • Suzanne

    The sign misquotes the ordinance. The sign says no stopping at all, but the ord. says that the stopping has to have an effect on others to be prohibited. No mention of food in the ordinance, either. Ugh.

  • Thomas Mercier

    And for crying out loud could you please keep your tape players turned down?

    • Curmudgeon

      What’s a “tape player”?

  • Gayle

    Welcome to St. Paul!
    Now I know where my next convention is headed.

  • DaughterNumberThree

    Yes, but if you put in chairs… does not imply that sitting is part of the allowed activity?

  • Steve

    They post this same sign all around Roy Wilkins Auditorium during the Hmong New Year festivities. For some reason, the signs aren’t posted when Roller Girl fans are sitting on the same floors (often picnicking) while waiting for the doors to open.

  • Jim G

    It’s the privateers vs. the publicans… again…unfortunately the publicans’ leaders are co-opted by the privateers’ lobby. Publicans don’t even rate a “Welcome to St. Paul” sign.

  • Jack

    When I worked in the Capital City 10 years ago, there used to be lines at restaurants and shops that spilled into the hallways and skyways at noon. So are they going to arrest all the business people, lawyers, and judges waiting for a table at the Four Inns?

    I would have been busted every day eating my popcorn while walking back from Candyland, Peterson’s or the popcorn stand in the Ecolab building.

    Kind of glad I’m not in St. Paul anymore. Give me Minneapolis with buskers in the skyways and the streets. We’ve got our loiterers too but I think they are called window shoppers for the most part. 🙂

  • davehoug

    ASK a convention planner and those who want to boost St. Paul what the effect would be to send this sign to those who plan conventions or get a full page ad in a convention planner’s magazine, airplane pocket magazine and other attempts to boost the metro.

    Talk about efforts at “Branding” 🙂

  • duncancritters

    I wish a little time was spent enforcing #3. The loud, obscene, rowdy language and behavior in late afternoons/early evenings, once the shops close and people thin out, is appalling. When I am working after 5 pm, the noise from the skyway is not just distracting, but incredibly offensive. I see no enforcement at all after 5 pm. It’s a free for all. Recent assaults around 6 pm near security stations are evidence of that – gang members in colors attacked a young food service worker and broke bones of an elderly man. Travel the skyways after after 5 pm at your own risk.

    …obscene language, noisy or boisterous conduct tending to cause a breach of the peace; personally abusive epithets, or words or language of an offensive, disgusting or insulting nature, which epithets, words or language when addressed to the ordinary citizen are, as a matter of common knowledge, inherently likely to provoke a violent reaction of fear, anger or apprehension; and words, language or statements which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.