Every Street in St. Paul by Bike

Posted by Doug Shidell, March 23rd, 2014

Wolfie Browender decided in the summer of 2011 that he would ride his bike on every block of every street in St. Paul. He doesn’t just ride the streets. He posts a blog about each ride. The blog posts, which he claims take much longer to write than the rides; combine history, photography and interviews with local residents.

Even a cursory look at his posts reveals a man with a high level of curiosity, and the ability to draw a story out of just about anyone he meets. In his most recent posts he’s interviewed a piano tuner who works out his home, a school teacher who teaches in the one room Mattocks School Building, now located on the campus of the Highland Park Senior High School, a woman who searches out old grave sites in her local cemetery, and a Hamline University student working a parking lot during the State Fair. He also photographed three old cars, apparently abandoned in a weedy parking lot, a variety of Little Free Libraries with unique designs and an album’s worth of gravestones.

The idea for this grand project began with bike rides.

“As I traversed Saint Paul a few years ago, I saw various interesting, curious and cool things.  It was entertaining to visit parts of the city to which I didn’t often or ever get.  I also noticed sights while biking that I would have otherwise missed.

“This got me to thinking-what would I experience if I were to bike every street in Saint Paul?  How long would it take?  What fascinating people would I meet?  What interesting things would I see?”

Wolfie has completed two full seasons of riding and will soon start his third. He started the project expecting it to take 10 years to complete. That seems like a stretch. My guess is that this is a lifetime project at best and may have to be carried on by the next generation. Wolfie is just too fascinated by St. Paul to hurry through the ride. By the time this project is finished, we’ll not only have a complete and personal picture of St. Paul, we’ll also have a series of set pieces that capture the city as it evolves over the years.

One word of caution: Wolfie’s blog is called “St. Paul By Bike- Every Block of Every Street. Its Sights. Its People. It’s History. The title alone should tell you that Wolfie doesn’t write Twitter Feed or Facebook Post type blogs. He writes and photographs everything he sees, he adds historical notes and writes up entire interviews. He doesn’t stop until he’s documented everything.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News, Misc