Downtown St. Paul construction – then and now

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Minnesota Public Radio does not accept product placement money from beer companies. Which is probably a shame when you consider the very timely, if unplanned, appearance of the bright blue lager hauler.

It adds a nice dash of color to this scene of intense digging a half block away from my office cubicle, just in front of the Great American History Theater near the intersection of Exchange and Cedar Streets.

Yes, the Central Corridor light rail construction is well underway again, with plenty of rejiggering of huge district heating pipes and other utilities.

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Above is the telescopic view from a skyway over Cedar.The big excitement, in my view, was the excavation at this site a few weeks ago through 34 feet of shale to reach the layer of sandstone below to put in new sewer connections. Better to do all this stuff now. Won’t be so easy in a couple of years when there’s lots of concrete and rail for the train in place.

Which caused me to wonder, ‘what did construction from the past look like on or near the downtown St. Paul streets planned for the new light rail line?’

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There certainly was plenty of it. Here’s some sewer line going in under Cedar in downtown St. Paul in 1940, a photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

As for traffic obstructions, it’s not street car construction, but it’s a great 1896 photo, again from the MnHS collection, of a horse drawn slab of marble on its way through downtown on Wabasha headed up to the then-under construction State Capitol.

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Speaking of State Capitol construction photographic history, how can one not include this 1899 MnHS photo?

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