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A Profile of St. Paul's Merriam Park Neighborhood

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Izzy's Ice Cream Cafe, Merriam Park, St Paul

Izzy's Ice Cream Cafe, Merriam Park, St Paul

Clara James

Merriam Park's Location:

Merriam Park is an attractive older neighborhood on the west side of St. Paul. It is bounded by the Mississippi river to the east, University Avenue to the north, Lexington Parkway to the west, and Summit Avenue to the south.

Merriam Park's History:

Merriam Park is roughly in the middle of downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul. Entrepreneur John L. Merriam thought the location would make an ideal suburb for businessmen, professional workers and their families. New streetcar lines were being run through the neighborhood, and a railroad line linked the two downtowns by 1880, which also ran through the area. Merriam purchased land, built a rail depot in his future neighborhood, and started selling lots to future homeowners.

Merriam Park's Housing:

Merriam stipulated that houses built on the lots cost at least $1500, a sum that build a grand house in the 1880s. Most houses are woodframe structures in the Queen Anne style. Many have been neglected but Merriam Park still has some of largest concentrations of late 19th century housing in the Twin Cities. The oldest parts of Merriam Park are around Fairview Avenue, between Interstate 94 (the route of the old railroad line) and Selby Avenue.

In the 1920s multi-family homes were built in the area in response to housing demand, replacing worn older houses. Studios and small apartments are widely available.

Merriam Park's Residents:

Ever since the early days of the neighborhood, Merriam Park has attracted professional families. It's still just as convenient for both downtowns, now the railroad has been replaced by I-94.

Students at nearby colleges - Macalester College, the University of St. Thomas, and the College of St. Catherine - occupy apartments, studios and duplexes.

Merriam Park's Parks, Recreation and Golf Courses:

The Town and Country Club, on the banks of the Mississippi, was developed in the days of John Merriam, and is a private golf club.

Merriam Park Recreation Center has children's play areas, sports fields, and is open to all.

Merriam Park is adjacent to a particularly pretty part of the Mississippi river. Bike and walking trails along the river bank are popular for walking, running and cycling. Strolling along Summit Avenue is another pleasant walk on a summer evening.

Merriam Park's Businesses:

Snelling Avenue, Selby Avenue, Cleveland Avenue, and Marshall Avenue are the main commercial streets. Both Cleveland Avenue and Snelling Avenue are home to an mix of coffee shops, cafes, clothing stores, and various useful neighborhood retailers.

Marshall Avenue has a couple of interesting retailers. At the intersection of Marshall Avenue and Cleveland Avenue is a group of independent businesses. Choo Choo Bob's Train Store, A Fine Grind Coffee Shop, Izzy's Ice Cream, and Trotter's Cafe are here.

A few blocks west on Marshall Avenue is a typical oddly matched trio of stores: The Wicker Shop, a very 1970s furniture sale and repair shop, gluten-free bakery Cooqi, and a tanning salon that really is called Tangerine Dreams.

A collection of antique, collectibles and vintage stores are on Selby Avenue in the "Mall of St. Paul". The Missouri Mouse, an antiques mall in itself, and Peter's Oldies But Goodies furniture store are popular stores here. A pub that prides itself on it's burgers, The Blue Door, is here too, nestled in between the antique stores.

At the intersection of Snelling Avenue and Selby Avenue are three vintage clothing stores, Up Six Vintage, Lula, and Go Vintage, and hip sneaker boutique 6Twelve Premium.

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