Updated: Apr 15, 2021
quick! what city or cities come to mind when you think of romantic cities?
according to the travel blog "the planet d", dave and deb (the authors and creators of "the planet d" - maybe also where the d comes in?) ranked 16 cities as the most romantic cities on earth. this is a rather subjective topic so how did they arrive at these picks? they have visited all of these places and more as world travelers. must be a nice job! this article was last updated march of 2021 so i'm assuming they are still doing this even as the pandemic marches on. if you're interested in checking out this travel blog, here's the link. forbes calls "the planet d" one of the top 10 travel blogs in the world. i'll also provide the direct link to the romantic cities blog.
did any of you mention your own city or nearest city as a romantic one? can't say i did. minneapolis and st. paul (or the twin cities as they are known when paired) are great cities for photographic expeditions. but for me personally, i wouldn't put them up there with paris (ranked number 1), venice (ranked number 2) or, and this was surprising to me as i've never heard of it referred to as a romantic city, hangzhou in china (ranked number 3). after reading a little about hangzhou in the blog, though, i can say i'd be very open to visiting there with my wife if we ever had money to burn.
having said that, i think there are great areas within the two cities i live near that i would characterize as romantic places. one of them is a recent discovery for me even after being back in minnesota for almost six years. i've been close to it numerous times since being back; i've literally been in it's back yard and not even known about it. after reading about it off and on and hearing some photographers talk about it, i finally paid a visit. the location? st. anthony main street.
st. anthony main street is the oldest street in minneapolis. it was established between 1840 and 1849. originally, this main street was part of a separate village called st. anthony village. it became part of the northeast minneapolis designation around 1872. i spent my middle and high school years in st. anthony village, and yes, i don't even remember this street from back then. although, i do have to confess that sometimes i can't even remember what i had for dinner the previous night-lol.
cobblestone pavers line this stretch of street. historic buildings showcase some incredible architectural detail. the street runs sort of diagonally parallel (i know; it sounds paradoxical but that's the best way for me to describe it) along the mississippi river. it is bordered by the historic stone arch bridge on the one end and hennepin avenue bridge/nicollet island on the other end. the view of the mississippi river, the st. anthony falls (the only falls on the mississippi river!) and the minneapolis skyline is spectacular along this street. character abounds here! loads of character!
to shift gears for just a moment, i love making images in inclement weather. one reason why i think it is some of the best time to make images is people don't tend to be out in it for the most part. during pandemic times, that's even a better reason to be out in inclement weather. rain is a tricky one for me as i have to work to keep my camera equipment dry while making images. it's a challenge holding an umbrella in one hand and keeping a towel or bag over my camera with the other hand in between making images. i'm getting to the point where i don't care if it makes me look ridiculous; i'm seriously looking at getting some sort of large umbrella type hat that would also provide enough coverage over my camera. if it helps me make the images i like to make in the rain, then i'll sacrifice looking cool. frankly, i don't look cool trying to balance an umbrella and protecting the camera anyways. i can still remember on a windy, rainy night my umbrella turning inside out while holding it over my camera and myself. a bright pink one no less (my wife's umbrella)! it took a minute of fumbling around to get the umbrella back into its correct position. then i still had to contend with it wanting to turn inside out again in the wind all night long. yep....i've long left the cool kids corner.
all that to say rain adds a romantic mood for me, be it falling rain or my surroundings wet with recent rains. i find it to be a superb mood enhancer. it's a lovely touch of splendor that nature utilizes from its "toolbox"! along with that, rain simultaneously creates pools/puddles of water that lend a beautiful reflective quality while also enhancing details such as colors and textures.
i recently took the opportunity to make some images on st. anthony main street during an off and on rainy night. adding to the whole atmosphere was a layer of low lying clouds over the city of minneapolis. the presence of these all mood enhancers made for a great night of creating images. let's check some out!
this image was made looking toward the minneapolis skyline on the historic stone arch bridge. i really love the feeling of mystery in this image. the low lying clouds help to reinforce that.
this is not an old manhole cover. i had pulled out my iphone to light it up and verify. however, i thought it added a cool element of contrast to the original cobblestone pavers. across the street looking diagonally is jefe urban cocina, a mexican tavern. the five story building was built in 1892 and originally housed a box spring and mattress manufacturing company owned by salisbury and satterlee. i love the textures in the manhole cover and cobblestone pavers. it's amazing how water, light and shadow can transform a scene we might not otherwise give a second look.
here's the historic pillsbury a-mill building (with the iconic tower and sign on top) which now houses condos and lofts/galleries. originally built in 1881, one of two cool features about this architectural marvel for its time (and still is today) is the letter a made out of all white marble. it is 10 feet tall on the front of the building. the second cool feature is that the building still retains its original wood framework. the stairs on the right lead out to the xcel energy water power park. which leads me to the next image....
when you turn around to the right from looking at the previous image, there is a little rock jut out a short distance to the right of the xcel energy water power park. from here you get a nice view of part of the minneapolis skyline including the iconic north star blankets sign on the far left. almost directly across from this view, in the black void just below the start of the cityscape, is the st. anthony falls lock and dam. i love the contrast of light and shadow in this image as well as the various colors throughout. again, the low lying clouds add a sense of mystery to the night.
toward the center of the this historic street lies st. anthony main theater and pracna right next to it. you can't really see pracna on main as it is now called but it is where the tables are toward the back of the image. while the theater is a newer addition from the 80s with some later renovations, pracna on main opened in 1890 as a saloon. today, it still retains its original brick walls, entryway arches and stained glass windows. it is "the oldest restaurant on the oldest street in minneapolis" per the tagline on its website. i love the small puddle reflecting the theater sign and, again, the play of light, shadow, depth and textures throughout the image. can you guess what the streak of light is just above the middle left? it's the light trail of a car. i love that it fits the color scheme of the central part of this image.
well...there you have it. another blog; another expedition and an urban expedition this time around. i've fallen in love with this historic district and you can be sure i'll be back from time to time to make more images there. it certainly exudes a romantic atmosphere that has drawn many thousands to this quaint and charming section of northeast minneapolis. i'd be curious to hear what areas in the twin cities or other cities you have found to fit your definition of a romantic place to visit. share them in the comment section below. it's unfortunate that wix (my website provider), at this time, does not allow sharing of comments without first signing in. but if you would take the time to do it once, it's a lot easier to to comment from here on out. i'd love to hear from you regarding any thoughts and/or questions you may have pertaining to this blog and images or any of my blogs and images. i love to read and respond to them.
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i'll see you next time with more "images from a quiet world"!