Friday, August 19, 2005


Below, in "The Great Divide: Townies vs. Hipsters," I speculated that hostility between Minneapolis and St. Paul dates back to the failed efforts by St. Paulites to create "St. Paulopolis." Well, I was right about the hostility but wrong about the name of the ideal city and the details of the story.

The story revolves around John Ireland. John Ireland was a real estate speculator in the late 1870s, and head of the effort to create “Paulopolis,” a city conceived to attract business to the growing railroad city of St. Paul. The following quotations (readily accessible thanks to Google Print) are from Marvin R. O'Connell’s biography of Ireland, titled “John Ireland and the American Catholic Church” (1998).

“…between downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis. Here, just to the east of the Mississippi, where he [Ireland] had established St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, he dreamed, in the grandiose fashion characteristic of him, that in due time would emerge the political, cultural, and commercial center of a single great city, ‘Paulopolis,’ an urban showplace and a rational alternative to two medium-sized ‘twin’ towns in perpetual and puerile competition with each other. ‘Tread reverently upon this ground,’ Ireland advised in 1890. ‘It is the Midway, the very heart of the coming great city. Look at it! Admire it! Has not providence been generous to it. It is the precious gift by which St. Paul will woo and win fair Minneapolis.’” The plan, says O’Connell, was to build the new state capitol in the Midway, “a first step, they hoped, in the merging of the Twin Cities into one.” But the legislature in 1893 decreed that the capitol must needs remain in its original site in the old downtown area, where it remains to this day.

1 comment:

PiedPiper said...

Ilya - does your book say anything about Pig's Eye? Also, I admit to falling in your trap in the previous post; however, I maintain that, while you did not exactly take sides, your tone implied so. Simply using wordage such as "hipster" and "townie" to describe residents of two places produces a comparison. This comparison may not be your own, but it is you who shared it.

And I can't believe I'm actually taking the time to argue this point...what has become of me?