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Rider's Almanac Blog

METRO Green Line St. Paul Station Spotlight

10th Street Station encased in icy history

| Friday, January 31, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Nan Jahnke loves the St. Paul Winter Carnival. That’s why, given the opportunity to share her ideas for station artwork at the METRO Green Line’s 10th Street Station, her mind went immediately to ice palaces.

It makes sense, too. Sitting in the middle of Cedar Street south of I-94, 10th Street Station stands where some of the festival's earliest ice palaces were built. The station remains a key gateway to downtown St. Paul and, by extension, the annual wintertime celebration.

“Since this is the station closest to where all the events used to happen, I thought, ‘It’s got to have ice on it, baby,’” said Jahnke, a longtime Winter Carnival volunteer who lives in downtown St. Paul.

And so it does.

Minneapolis artist Janet Lofquist used tens of thousands of tiny pieces of glass and stone, in some ways resembling ice itself, to create a series of mosaics that depict St. Paul’s ice palaces dating from the 1880s, when the Winter Carnival began. Lofquist said it is fitting to highlight such a unique part of St. Paul's history and culture.

“A lot of times we define cities by something that’s unusual about them and this really is one of the more unique and special things about St. Paul,” she said.

While 10th Street Station focuses on a specific season it will become a year round destination for those who live, work and play in the surrounding neighborhood.

Several major institutions are located a short distance from the station, including the History Theatre, McNally Smith College of Music, St. Paul Conservatory of Music and Fitzgerald Theater. Last fall, a new 254-unit apartment building, Penfield Apartments, opened a block east of the station. A new Lunds grocery store will open in the building’s first floor later this year.

Rachel Flynn, the marketing director for the History Theatre, said the organization is excited about the Green Line not just because it will make it easier for artists and patrons to get to the venue but because it will allow theatregoers to enjoy a full night out in St. Paul that includes dinner before the show at one of the amazing restaurants along University Avenue or drinks after the show in Lowertown.

"History Theatre patrons like to learn about the past and experience new things, and they tend to be particularly curious about St. Paul," Flynn said. "I think the Green Line is going to make it all of that even more accessible for them (and us), which is very exciting.​"

Hayley Johnson, an executive assistant and program manager at McNally Smith, said the school is also thrilled to see light rail arrive right outside its doors. Many of McNally’s students live in nearby student housing but those who commute rely heavily on transit or biking, she said.

“Instrument transport has been an issue for a lot of them, especially the basses and the trombones,” she said. “I’m sure riding the light rail will be a whole lot easier than strapping something to a bike.”

The station could also help bring more activity Cedar Street. McNally Smith hosts the Lowertown Guitar Festival and is also involved in the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, which takes place in Mears Park. Northern Spark, an all-night arts festival, will be held on the same day the Green Line opens – June 14.

“We’re kind of at an advantage being one of the first stops downtown,” Johnson said. “We can really be a welcome gate as we’re involved in a lot of these things.”

10th Street Station won’t just be busy during summer or winter festivals, though.

The station is located just south of the State Capitol and St. Joseph's Hospital is just a few blocks to the west. Immediately east of the station, more than 1,200 employees work at the Elmer L. Andersen Human Service Building. Thousands more visit the building for meetings, training and other business every year.

Katie Bauer, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Human Services, said employees who office at the building have been closely following light-rail construction and are look forward to the June opening.

“DHS employees have closely followed the development and construction of the [METRO Green Line] in anticipation of a convenient new commuting option,” she said.

10th Street Station At a Glance

Connecting bus routesRoute 3, with service between downtown St. Paul to Minneapolis largely along Como Avenue, will be realigned in downtown St. Paul to connect with 10th Street, Capitol/Rice and Central stations; Route 16 will continue to provide local service from downtown St. Paul to the U of M; Route 62, with service between downtown St. Paul and Shoreview; Route 67 with service from downtown St. Paul to the METRO Blue Line’s Franklin Avenue Station; Route 75, with service from downtown St. Paul to West St. Paul, Mendota Heights and Inver Grove Heights; Route 262, with limited-stop service between downtown St. Paul and the 95th Avenue Park & Ride in Blaine.

Public art: Ice palaces for the St. Paul Winter Carnival were built near 10th Street Station in 1886, 1887, 1888 and 1837. Artist Janet Lofquist used these creations as inspiration for her station artwork, depicting the grand arch from the 1887 castle through a glass/stone mosaic. Learn more

Area landmarks: Minnesota State Capitol, Elmer L. Andersen Human Services Building, History Theatre, McNally Smith College of Music, Saint Paul Conservatory of Music, Fitzgerald Theater, Minnesota Public Radio

Bike-ped connections: St. Paul’s long-range bike plan calls for a nearly two-mile off-street trail along Kellogg Boulevard, Jackson Street, St. Peter Street and 10th Street. If built, the trail would link  10th Street Station to other popular downtown destinations, including  Union Depot, Lowertown and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.

Neighborhood groupsCapitol River Council