While the Twins and Yankees were playing an afternoon game over at the Metrodome (the result of which is best left unrecorded here), I was making my way all around next year's ballpark and getting some rosy color on my scalp. Could there have been a more perfect day for outdoor baseball?
I parked in the A ramp and started there with some observation of the Seventh Street walkway.
A new staircase is beginning to emerge which will connect the walkway with the sidewalk below on the ballpark side of the street. It drops out somewhat unexpectedly from the west edge of the walkway and proceeds east -- crossing beneath the walkway above.
I'm sure there's a good engineering reason for this, but it is rather unusual in appearance.
Reverse stairway view
Inside the A ramp on the Skyway level, you can see where the walkway connects to the parking.
Walkway entrance from ramp
I snuck just a bit beyond that to get a quick look at the walkway up close.
Walkway sneak peek
Now, lest you think the walkway is the only way to cross Seventh Street, you can rest assured that the original crosswalk and stop lights will be reinstalled where Third Avenue branches off from Seventh Street.
This crosswalk won't be quite as elaborate as the one on the opposite corner (which has to accommodate the LRT station), but it will be beefed up. Cars which currently zip through here at about 45 MPH will have to stop.
It's an open question just how many folks will cross at street level and how many will take the walkway and then the steps. But this will be a very pedestrian-friendly amenity.
Along this stretch, Seventh Street will actually lose a lane, coming down from three lanes to two to accommodate the short-term parking bays. This will help in traffic calming to be sure.
But look at this view of Seventh/Tenth Streets from the east:
A mini-freeway! (Police action in progress...)
That cop had to cross six speeding lanes of traffic to get to the bum sleeping next to the HERC plant.
On game days, people who park to the west will face a few unappetizing choices of where to safely cross this freeway.
My understanding is that there are discussions ongoing about another stoplight and pedestrian crossing in this area. Traffic calming will be aided on game days by charter bus parking, which will be against the HERC property (right about where that cop car is parked), in what is now a lane of traffic.
Short Rant (Don't Be Afraid)
There is a bigger question of what the city should be doing here to return even more pedestrian-friendliness. When this streetscape was originally designed, no one had any idea that thousands of people might ever try to cross traffic here. It was designed to facilitate rapid movement of traffic in and out of downtown.
An alternate route into downtown. (Click to get an interactive map.)
Now it looks like there might be some long-term sense in de-freeway-izing this even more. One way would be to get rid of the inbound lanes to Tenth Street (and the corresponding bridge, seen in the above image on the right and on the diagram in blue), routing this traffic onto Royalston, a beautiful, underused boulevard (an aid to calming) lined with largely municipal buildings (unaffected by increased traffic), which connects to Glenwood. This would have the dual purpose of opening up development options over the Target Field parking area which now is bisected by that bridge.
There is also an opportunity there to remove a couple of those municipal buildings and restore Fourth Avenue North, allowing another opportunity for a residential neighborhood (yes, I know, Mary's Place would have to be tamed somehow for that to work).
There is a distinct difference between walking the park on this side (Seventh Street) and the opposite side (Fifth Street). Over there, to facilitate LRT, the street was reduced to -- dig this -- two lanes: one in each direction! What a novel and pedestrian-friendly idea! Walking that side of the park is a much different, and much saner, activity.
With the removal of the three lanes feeding Tenth, and the outbound lane of Seventh closest to the ballpark (already in progress), the same thing could happen on Seventh. Sanity could be restored.
Looking back at the era of one-way freeways into and out of downtown, it's easy to see the thinking: Make it easy for workers to come and go and businesses will be less tempted to relocate to the suburbs somewhere.
Unfortunately, that had the unintended consequence of ghost-towning the downtowns after dark, lengthening commutes, and siphoning off all of the street life, ceding it to cars.
So, hoping that we can agree now that we live in the post-one-way-freeway-downtown era (Minneapolis seems to be coming around to this), it's more important to make life comfortable for the growing number of people who live close by, discouraging longer commutes, and encouraging the return of street life.
Put more plainly, six-lanes of traffic will never be pedestrian-friendly, no matter how beefed-up the crosswalks.
With the Yankees in town, it was a little eerie to discover today that the Bronx Hotel used to stand just about where Twins Town (the new pro shop) is now. Here's another view of the portion of the same building known as the St. Francis Hotel.
Here are a couple more images from today:
A walkway begins to form (this is as close as you can get right now)
16 recent recognized visitors, including: ben, Excited, gogotwins, gus munger, Jorge, luke, Rick, Tom D.
This page was last modified on January 16, 2010.
"You talk about the magic, the aura, but what really makes a stadium is the fans. Concrete doesn't talk back to you. Chairs don't talk back to you. It's the people who are there, day in, day out, that makes the place magic."
– Bernie Williams
Explore the Site
Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3033 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Guerrier had tossed a ball to a fan wearing a Twins jersey, who dropped it. If you're going to wear the uniform, he was saying, you gotta make the play. The ball ultimately went to a fan wearing a Randy Moss jersey, and everybody laughed.
Flowers and Hall-of-Fame plaques. Very nice.
The glare problem.
Such promise. (Click to enlarge.)
7:52 PM It's nearing peak, and covering the stands behind third base.
Clyde Doepner's Met Stadium Memorabilia (Source: LP)
This is the view from where the plaza will connect to the walkway on the west side of Target Center. This presumably aids traffic flow back to the A ramp, and perhaps to the skyway connection (though the doors to the skyway right there are typically exit only).
Rod Carew will greet you, but he's sorely in need of a home plate for reference. (Killebrew is too.)
Eleven flag poles
Condiments! (complete with faux limestone on the cart -- nice touch)
Main concourse, looking south toward the area behind home plate.
Looking for some detail
I have no idea what this is or does, but as gear goes, it's totally boss, man. (Attached to a railing just off of the Trap)
From the ground beneath the troubled skyway.
Wind veil install from across Seventh
That's my mom. She scored the whole game on her Gameday program (bought for just $1 on the opening night special -- thanks guys!)
A skyway-level view down Seventh Street.
That's some scary-ass scaffolding, if you ask me.
I never think of Rod Carew as a first baseman. But he was.
From last week, you can see the piers taking shape. I believe that the front row, visible here as just forms and reinforcing rods, is the front edge of the plaza.
Here's where I was when the alarm went off, and though the siren wasn't terribly loud, at least one guy is plugging his ears.
This was actually taken from the top floor of the International Market Square.
Outside, lots of window space
Skywalk over Seventh
Looking northeast from the ballpark site (Source: LP)
Here are some less intrusive things things you can actually get at the ballpark.
They help create a psychological safe area along the plaza edge, and help you forget that cars are zipping by directly beneath you.