What downtown lacks in nightlife, it makes up in skyway.
I admittedly only discovered the skyways in the last couple of months as means to traverse the core areas of St. Paul at night. I believe Dave Thune is to thank for that.
Although my building (the Rossmor, which houses Key’s Cafe, Black Sheep Pizza, Camp and Sawatdee) doesn’t connect directly with the skyways, I simply walk a block down Robert Street to the Ninth Street parking ramp, head up the stairs, and can virtually not step outside again until reaching my destination.
There’s been criticism of the skyways by city leaders, especially in Minneapolis. I’ve used both St. Paul’s and the Minneapolis system, and both present a similar dynamic of taking workers and other foot traffic off the street and into climate-controlled confines. As a downtown resident, I have little issue with this. The skyways, which, in St. Paul, are open until 2 a.m. every day of the week, A. Provide warmth for those walking in downtown St. Paul, whether it be the unfortunate homeless or late night happy hour revelers and B. feel and most likely are safer than walking the streets at night.
I remember first moving to downtown St. Paul from Uptown Minneapolis in 2009. I never expected the streets to be so empty of both foot and vehicle traffic, even on Friday or Saturday nights. The buzz and bustle of Hennepin Avenue, with its endless stream of cars both day and night, was replaced with what I immediately termed “Ghost Town.” Heck, West Seventh Street from Alary’s to Mickey’s Diner is downright abandoned from 7 p.m. until weekday mornings. So I’ll likely never walk that stretch again, instead opting for the skyways.
Last Saturday, suburban families came downtown en masse for St. Paul Winter Carnival festivities. Many parked near my building at Robert and Ninth, and walked the half mile or so to Rice Park, freezing their arses off, many with strollers and babies, probably in ignorance of the skyways. Yes folks, they’re open on weekends, and they’re open until bar close.