A petty peeve of mine from flyover land: It's not "Minneapolis St. Paul, MN." It's "Minneapolis, MN and/or St. Paul, MN" or "Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN." They may have the nickname of the Twin Cities. But they are not one and the same.
The Today show recently aired a segment about some list of healthiest cities. Minneapolis and/or St. Paul routinely make these and other best of lists. Which is a point of pride, I admit.
But, please, New York or L.A. media, these two cities may be near each other geographically, They may share the Mississippi river, they may share a common climate and time zone, they may share an international airport and broadcast tv and radio reception. But they are as different from each other as Boston is different from Seattle.
There are a few other twinned cities in the nation. I confess I have never been to them so I do not know whether the i.d. lumping bothers them. If so, please let me know. We should always honor what people choose to be called. Dallas-Fort Worth are nearly always called that whenever I hear them mentioned. Raleigh-Durham are likewise. Are they one and the same? I honestly don't know. Does it irk them to be lumped that way? I don't know. But I'm here to tell you, Minneapolis is its own city and St. Paul is its own city.
Currently I live out in the woods because that is where my vocation has led me. But I am a Minneapolis kid at heart. In fact, most Minnesotans seem to be either Minneapolis oriented or St. Paul oriented. Minneapolis has its own suburbs distinct from the St. Paul suburbs. Out state people either read the St. Paul Pioneer Press or the Minneapolis StarTribune. People either gravitate to the Minneapolis hospitals or the St. Paul hospitals. People either shop the Minneapolis stores or the St. Paul stores. Hipsters either hang out on Grand Avenue if they are St. Paul oriented or Hennepin Avenue if they are Minneapolis oriented. They are crazy for the Winter Carnival if they are St. Paul oriented or they are Aquatennial goers if they are Minneapolis oriented.
That's where I'm from, that's where my heart is. When I was a kid I was a paperboy for the Minneapolis paper. I was educated in the Minneapolis school system. I lifeguarded on the Minneapolis lakes. I enter St. Paul about as often as I get my oil changed. I enter Minneapolis nearly twice a month.
And I'm telling you, the two cities are different. Not better or worse (though I am a Minneapolis kid) than each other. Just different. It's been said that St. Paul is the last city of the east and Minneapolis is the first city of the west. If you were to be dropped into the middle of either one you would know the difference immediately.
The street names have no rhyme or reason in St. Paul. In Minneapolis they are laid out numerically or alphabetically (or presidentially, for us Northeasters). And avenues are north-south and streets are east-west in Minneapolis. In St. Paul there is far less consistency. It makes it very difficult to find your way around St. Paul if you are not from there. Address numbers run 001 to 099 along St. Paul streets so you can go several blocks between 2301 Rice Street to 2401 Rice Street. In Minneapolis the address number resets every block. Again, making it a lot easier for visitors to navigate. The streets tend to be narrower in St. Paul and you can park and drive anywhere in any location and direction. In Minneapolis parking is practically impossible unless you want to take out a small loan and one-way streets are common.
Even the Roman Catholics in St. Paul have their own cathedral while those in Minneapolis have their own basilica. St. Paul is teeming with small colleges and universities and professional schools. Minneapolis has the U of M main campus and loads of small ethnic restaurants run by immigrants from all over the planet in every neighborhood with matching theater and acting troupes and art galleries and museums and comedy clubs.
I heard it said that Minneapolis is one great big shopping district with nowhere to park and St. Paul is one big parking lot with nowhere to shop. But St. Paul has the Capitol and all the accompanying office buildings.
Of course, my Minneapolis orientation comes through in this so I invite a St. Paulite to weigh in. But my main theme is the Twin Cities are not one and the same. They are not even twins of each other.
My next diary may be about how Norwegians and Swedes are worlds apart.