Local Current Blog

St. Paul honors Bob Dylan: You can now officially walk down ‘Positively 4th Street’

photos by Jay Gabler/MPR

The legacy of Bob Dylan extends from his birthplace in Duluth to his childhood home in Hibbing to the Dinkytown coffee shops that helped nurture his music career. Now, the City of St. Paul is claiming its place in Dylan lore by officially renaming a section of 4th Street as “Positively 4th Street.”

On Wednesday, the St. Paul City Council unanimously passed a motion to co-rename the stretch of E. 4th Street between the St. Paul Saints’ new stadium and Commercial Street “Positively 4th Street.” The resolution was proposed by Mike Veeck, co-owner of the Saints, and sponsored by council member Dave Thune. Dylan played three sold-out concerts at Midway Stadium, the former home of the Saints—most recently in 2013.

Dylan recorded the song “Positively 4th Street” 50 years ago this month in New York City. After its September 1965 release on Colombia Records, the song quickly rose to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. (Released as a standalone single, the song was later included in Dylan’s first Greatest Hits compilation.)

While the origins of the song are unclear, most fans and scholars believe it refers to either New York City’s 4th Street in Greenwich Village or Minneapolis’s 4th Street by the University of Minnesota, two spots where Dylan once lived. A colorful mural on Minneapolis’s 4th Street, next to the Varsity Theater, depicts Dylan and his song.

The newly renamed “Positively 4th Street” runs east-west behind CHS Field, under railroad bridges (below) and past the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary. This is the second St. Paul street to recently be renamed in honor of a musician with local roots: Dave Ray Avenue acknowledges the folk-blues great who was one of Dylan’s early friends and influences.

Happy to see his resolution passed, Veeck promised that he wouldn’t follow it up with a request to rename the nearby Prince Street in the form of a glyph.

Ben Bartenstein is a student at Macalester College.