When the conventioneers leave, what will be left?


by Jay Gabler, TC Daily Planet • September 4, 2008 •

Downtown St. Paul landmarks may require armed defense this week, but when there isn’t a national political convention in town, many Twin Cities residents would need to be held at gunpoint to be forced into downtown. Despite the presence of a robust art scene, cozy theaters, and poppin’ concerts, downtown can’t seem to shake the persistent perception that—after 5 p.m. at least—it’s home to more tumbleweeds than people. “St. Paul is a discouraged city,” I was once told by former resident Roger Kennedy, a director emeritus of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Discouraged by what, I asked. “By what?!” he responded. “By the Panic of 1893!” Really? Still? “Still. Read my books and you’ll understand.”

Arts Orbit is a multisource blog about the local arts scene, featuring both original contributions by Daily Planet writers and entries reprinted from partner blogs and online publications.

St. Paul arts and culture organizations are making valiant efforts to change the popular impression that downtown is a ghost town, but can they succeed? Chris Clayton at METRO has a timely and thought-provoking report. Michael Daly, a painter interviewed by Clayton, cites Guy Noir: “St. Paul is a city that keeps its secrets.”

Update 9/5: Chris Clayton writes, “I heard Sally Brown and Linus Van Pelt were arrested for unlawful assembly. Good to see them back out on the street. Have you heard from Charlie?”