An Urbanist History of St. Paul

Lecture Series Description: This series will provide a history of St. Paul focusing on how boundary, land use, housing, and transportation decisions have shaped the city’s neighborhoods. We’ll dive into how St. Paul developed, what the different urban design eras of the city were like, social forces that shaped the city’s streets and buildings, and how economic patterns affected the lives of city’s working class. Combining historical sources, planning documents, and a great many maps, this class will tell the story of St. Paul through its streets, buildings, and people.

Lecture Series Information: Thursdays, 1:00-2:45 p.m., starting September 23, 2021, O'Shaughnessy Educational Center Auditorium, University of St. Thomas St. Paul Campus and simulcast online via Zoom.

Lecture Series Educator: Bill Lindeke is an urban geographer and writer focusing on design, history of cities, especially focusing on how the built environment connects to social life. He has been writing about Twin Cities sidewalks and street life for almost 20 years, and has a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Minnesota. He is the author of three books on local history.

Fee for the series: $90.00 per person

To register on-line with a credit card on our secure page, click on this link:

To print out a form to complete and then mail in with a check or cash payment, click on this link: ‌Fall 2021 Paper Registration Form

Link to campus map: St. Paul Campus Map (82020)

Detailed Lecture Series Syllabus:

September 23

Naming and Dispossession: An introduction to the landscape of St. Paul from its Dakota origins to settler colonialism and immigration to the 1870s.


September 30

Boomtown: the city's peak growth years, especially the railroad empires and class struggle between workers and the wealthy, St> Paul's stagnation and relationship to its wealthier larger neigbor, Minneapolis.


October 7

Wheeling and Dealing: the city's "unique" approach to crime, the development of Highland, and other stories from the early 20th century.


October 14

Bulldozer: the waves of "urban renewal" that destroyed and rebuilt the city, dramatically shifting the landscape along race and class lines.


October 21

No session


October 28

Resilience: St. Paul's post-industrial economic struggles, the historic preservation movement, freeway fights, and key political changes.


November 4

Renaissance: the contemporary city, planning debates, changes, immigration and migration, and how new problems are reaping the city's future.