I’m a history freak. Somehow I find the most mundane details of history fascinating. Odd little facts entertain me and discovering the history of places I care about is a strange little hobby of mine. There’s something about the passing of time and knowing what something was like long before you. I like to see the connection to today, how the old things have changed and morphed into what we see today. That fascinates me. Yes, I am a dork.
The fact that my house was built in 1910 suddenly kickstarts the history buff in me. I want to know what my street was like. I want to know how long Central Lutheran School across the street has been there. I want to know how old the trees are that line Lexington Avenue. How long have there been trees lining Lexington Avenue. I want to know my house ever stood alone in this neighborhood, or if the houses around me have been torn down and built again. Or are we all living in dinosaurs.
Someday (maybe soon with my impending unemployment) I’d like to go to the Minnesota History Center’s library and look up some maps and old pictures. Do a little research. I did some of that during my summer at the National Park Service, and I loved it.
I did manage to find these cool images online today (click for a closer look). First we have a panoramic drawing of St. Paul from 1888. Long before my house was built, but still pretty cool. It’s amazing how built up the city was even then:
Next we have an early street map of the Twin Cities in 1907. This covers both Minneapolis and St. Paul. This is just before my house was built, but you can see the Cities are fairly dense. I had always wondered how long the streets around me have been there, and this pretty well answers the question (of course it’s not big enough to see exactly which street is which):
And finally we have a panoramic photograph of St. Paul taken in 1911, the year after my house was built. This picture appears to be taken from the south side of the river, probably on the bluff near where the Smith Avenue High Bridge exists today. I think the two bridges on the far right side are the Wabasha and Roberts Street bridges. The island in the middle is Harriet Island: (Of course today Harriet Island exists in name only. The channel that made it an island was filled in during the 1940s and 1950s. See, stupid trivia.)