St. Paul reaches for waterfront potential with a new nature center, Mississippi River Balcony, East Side River District

20 Mar 2021


It takes a certain imagination to envision the 17 curling miles of Mississippi River corridor in St. Paul transformed in ways that invite the public to the water’s edge.

Mostly recognizable these days for hosting one of the largest rail switching yards in the state, the 1,000 acres of land surrounding Pig’s Eye Lake could someday be known as the East Side River District, a cultural corridor that preserves the sacred sites of the Dakota people and celebrates the many migrating birds that travel along the nation’s largest river.

In downtown St. Paul, international tourists may someday meander along a balcony-like promenade traveling 1.5 miles from the Union Depot transit hub to the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Farther south, a site within Crosby Farm Regional Park, by the historic confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, might someday host a nature center, a river gateway of sorts offering canoe access and educational amenities.

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