Recently I was reminded why there are museum books on my bookshelf.
I went out with a friend of mine to have a beer at a brewing company that now takes up a small section of the former Hamm’s Brewery in Saint Paul.
It is a combination of my two favorite things — local beer and history. The building has been around since the 1890s, and, being the history geek that I am, I find myself walking around the grounds imagining what it was like in its heyday.
My friend, let’s call him Bill (because that’s his name), after calling…
The advent of the “safety” bicycle in the mid-1880s pushed bicycling from a fad toward a full-blown national institution. More people took up the “wheel” each day, and its popularity grew by leaps and bounds. However, little was done to accommodate the mode of travel of the new riders.
Increasing numbers of bicyclists, called “wheelmen,” rode on sidewalks teeming with pedestrians. Frequent collisions made travel unsafe and pushed city officials to pass an ordinance that eventually forced all riders off city sidewalks and onto the street.
In the early 1890s, cities enacted bicycling ordinances to regulate the travel of “wheelmen.”…
After being recognized as a United States territory on March 3, 1849, Minnesota played a more active role in the country’s growing alcohol temperance movement. The population of the state exploded, and the negative impact of consuming alcohol was among the issues blamed for the immoral acts taking place in its increasingly dense cities. A call-to-action rang out to institute a more efficient system to define municipal laws and sustain order. The hope was that regulatory changes would help the state overcome societal ills associated with its unchecked liquor problem.
A legislative measure was enacted to exert some control over…
“Touch ’em all Kirby Puckett! Touch ’em all!” ~ Minnesota Twins broadcaster John Gordon
Just as basic math dictates, before there could be a historic World Series Game 7 between the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves, there had to be a Game 6.
Math was not in the Twins favor on October 26, 1991. They were down three games to two against the Atlanta Braves in the 1991 World Series. The team had lost three games in a row, the last one by a score of fourteen to five.
They hadn’t lost the series, but it was not crazy to…
Leon Gleckman was a dominant underworld figure in St. Paul, MN, during the height of the gangster era in the city. He was an incredibly bright and savvy man that gained his prominent status by helping friends win critical political appointments and highly coveted law enforcement positions. Gleckman also became the city’s undisputed king of the bootleggers.
Gleckman’s first significant foray into the business world came with his ‘St. Paul Recreation Company.’ Located in downtown St. Paul, MN, it comprised of a pool parlor, cigar stand, gym, boxing ring, and bowling alley in the building’s basement. …
They took us from our homes and without telling us what was going on forced us onto large trucks.
Each of us stared out of the window as a long line of trucks pulled up to the stadium. When we stopped, a strange group of men and women dressed in fatigues appeared and corralled us into the building and onto the field. It was dark, almost too dark to see the person standing in front of you.
Even though we couldn’t see them, we heard the whispers of the frightened crowd. The fear of likely hundreds of men, women, and…
“For a lucky tomorrow, enjoy a hot dog today.”
~ George “The Hot Dog Man” Weckman
George Weckman begrudgingly took advantage of a second chance to become a fixture in downtown St. Paul for nearly 30 years. The one-time prisoner in Sandstone, MN, so afraid of being released he famously petitioned to have his parole overturned, was welcomed into the city with open arms. He soon established his business in the basement of the Oz Nightclub and later became a mainstay on Wabasha Street by City Hall and Rice Park.
In a short time, he went from being called inmate…
St. Paul’s Lincoln Court Apartments, a charming brownstone complex located at 93–95 South Lexington Parkway, was once the setting of an epic gun battle between police, federal agents, and gangsters, including John Dillinger.
A seemingly minor police encounter with quiet residents became another in a series of grand battles between law enforcement and the criminal underworld. A call to the authorities from Daisy S. Coffey, the building’s owner, drew out America’s “Public Enemy №1” and pushed the gangster menace to the front page of newspapers nationwide.
On a cold Saturday, March 31, 1934, morning at around 10:15 am, St. Paul…
After a long day at work, Roy McCord returned to his St. Paul home in the late night of January 12, 1934, and was asked by his wife to investigate strange characters spending time in the neighborhood. He went outside to see if he could find out what was going on.
That decision nearly cost him his life.
While McCord investigated outside, in the nearby second-floor apartment of William Weaver at 562 Holly Avenue, members of the notorious Barker-Karpis Gang planned Commercial Bank President Edward Bremer’s kidnapping. …
For as far back as I can remember, my grandparents lived on what is now called the West End of St. Paul. Growing up, much of the shopping we did required crossing the High Bridge to West St. Paul (different city completely — oddly enough, located to the south).
The bridge, built at the end of the 19th century, was designed for horse and buggy traffic. Updates over the years were little more than throwing some pavement on the roads and calling it a day.