Neighborhoods in Saint Paul, Minnesota

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Saint Paul, Minnesota is noted for its neighborhoods. The city has been called "fifteen small towns with one mayor", owing to the neighborhood-based life of much of the city. Saint Paul is partially governed by not fifteen but seventeen City Districts.

On Saint Paul's largely blue-collar East Side alone there are more than two dozen well-known, historically significant neighborhoods within four City Districts. District 4, for example, has three historic neighborhoods: Dayton's Bluff, Swede Hollow, and Mounds Park. The most populous districts, 2 and 5, have more than a dozen neighborhoods between them.

While Saint Paul has long been recognized for its citizen activism, some neighborhoods receive more individual planning attention than others, because tax funds are doled out to annually elected volunteer neighborhood boards based on City District boundaries, not neighborhood boundaries. These boards are called District Councils.

The District Council system was established in 1975 to encourage grass-roots involvement.[1] The Councils were also created to help spend federal funds through the recently created Community Development Block Grants. The District Councils share $1.2 million from the city of Saint Paul. Money given to the District Councils ranges from $41,000 to $102,000.[2] The councils also have other revenue streams, such as grants and donations.[3] Most councils have significant power on land-use issues.[4]

District Councils[edit]

Battle Creek[edit]

A neighborhood on the southeast side of the city, overlooking the Mississippi River and Downtown Saint Paul. Traditionally a bedroom community for 3M.[5]

Greater East Side[edit]

The Greater East Side is among the city's largest and most populous city districts — a grouping of largely middle-class areas, among them the Hillcrest, Hazel Park, Hayden Heights, Ames Lake, and Phalen Village neighborhoods — which bordered on (and traditionally supplied much of the workforce for) two company headquarters: the neighboring 3M Corporation, which has moved its corporate headquarters from St. Paul's Dayton's Bluff neighborhood to the neighboring suburb of Maplewood, and Whirlpool Corporation, which has entirely left St. Paul.[5]

West Side[edit]

The West Side [2] neighborhood is actually in the eastern half of the city, to the south and across the Mississippi River from Downtown Saint Paul. It is called the West Side because it is on the west bank of the predominantly north-south river. It is adjacent to the suburban cities of South St. Paul and West St. Paul. The West Side is home to the largest Hispanic community in the Twin Cities,[5] centered along César Chávez Boulevard.

Dayton's Bluff[edit]

Dayton's Bluff [3] is a neighborhood on the east side of the Mississippi in the southeast part of Saint Paul. It has a residential district on an elevated plateau bounded by the ridges of the Mississippi River Valley. The name of Dayton's Bluff commemorates Lyman Dayton (1810–1865),[6] for whom a village and a township in Hennepin County also were named. The area of the neighborhood that had views of the river valley and Downtown Saint Paul was purchased as early as the 1850s, with most of the houses being built in the 1880s.[7] On the edge of the southern and highest part of Dayton's Bluff along the Mississippi River is the Indian Mounds Park. Within the park are six remaining burial mounds from the prehistoric era of the Hopewell moundbuilders.[8] Dayton's Bluff has undergone much renovation and restoration in recent years.


The Payne-Phalen [4] city district includes the Railroad Island, Phalen Park, Rivoli Bluff, Vento, Wheelock Park, and Williams Hill neighborhoods, and ranges from a blue-collar area to the south to a middle-class area north of Maryland Avenue, including upscale real estate around Lake Phalen.[5]

North End[edit]

The North End [5] is a blue-collar[9] neighborhood built around the Rice Street corridor, a long, straight street that has many fast-food restaurants, bars and clubs. In the past, this neighborhood also housed junkyards and auto-wrecking lots. The state capitol building is at the southern edge of the neighborhood, between Cedar and Rice Streets on University Avenue.


Main article: Frogtown

Built around University Avenue, Thomas-Dale is colloquially known as Frogtown.[10] Historically, Frogtown was a section of the current Thomas-Dale neighborhood bordered by University Avenue on the south, Van Buren Avenue on the north, Dale Street on the west and Western Avenue on the east.


Main article: Summit-University

"Summit-U" is an ethnically and economically diverse community located west of Downtown Saint Paul.[11] Summit-University also includes the historic Cathedral Hill neighborhood, as well as what remains of "old Rondo" - a former neighborhood of the city. Among the many groups living in Summit-University are the Hmong community as well as the city's other Asian communities, of whom Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians are represented in large numbers.

In the 1880s, the southern portion closest to Summit Avenue was the preeminent neighborhood to live in. Housing further north and closer to University Avenue was less grand.[12] Parts of the neighborhood experienced significant urban renewal after the 1960s which resulted in the destruction of the Rondo Neighborhood to make way for Interstate 94.[13] Sections of the neighborhood north of Interstate 94 were torn down and replaced with developments that closer resembled the suburbs, leaving a striking contrast with the late 19th and early 20th century homes south near Ramsey Hill.[14]

West Seventh[edit]

West Seventh Street in St. Paul is also known as Fort Road,[15] owing to its location on historic Native American and fur trader paths along the northern bank of the Mississippi River from downtown Saint Paul to Fort Snelling. This area is colloquially known as the "West End", and is different from the area across the river known as the "West Side". The West Seventh neighborhood was originally a series of European immigrant neighborhoods along the western bluffs of the Mississippi River, spanning the entire length of West Seventh St. or "Old Fort Rd." During the 1880s large populations of Irish, German, Czech, Slovak and (to a lesser degree) Scandinavian immigrants moved to the West End.[16]

"Saint Paul has a rich history of active and distinct neighborhoods. To support neighborhood participation in governance, the district council planning process was created over 30 years ago." [17] There are 17 district councils, and the district council of the West End is the Fort Road Federation/District 9 Community Council. "Responsibilities of the councils include: planning and advising on the physical, economic, and social development of their areas; identifying needs; initiating community programs; recruiting volunteers; and sponsoring community events."[17] The Federation actually predates the District Council system in St. Paul. " 1973, a group of about a dozen community members banded together to create the West 7th/Fort Road Federation. They founded the organization on the principle that citizens acting together could maintain and improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods and help commercial endeavors prosper once again. With a $5,000 start-up grant from the Christian Sharing Fund, the young organization headed down a path of community development and support that would continue for many years to come."[18]

Today, several organizations and task forces serve the neighborhoods that make up the West End. Task forces of the Federation include West End Gardeners as well as the North High Bridge Park Task Forces; the West Seventh Business Association and its Enhancement coalition; the Irvine Park Historic District and Association; Czech and Slovak Sokol Minnesota in its historic hall on the national historic register; and the West 7th Community Center.

Como Park[edit]

Como Park is a neighborhood situated around Lake Como. The Como Park neighborhood has many recreational facilities, including a golf course, bike path, various open fields, a pavilion, a municipal pool, and the Como Zoo, one of two zoos in the Twin Cities (the other being the Minnesota Zoo). The Como area is also home to many of the city's ginkgo trees. There are several schools in Como Park, the public schools in the area being Chelsea Heights Elementary School and the Como Park Elementary School, the only school in the city to have its own planetarium. The primary secondary school in Como Park is Como Park Senior High School, one of the highest rated schools in the state according to Newsweek.[19][20]


Midway [6] derives its name from being halfway between the downtowns of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.[21] The neighborhood includes Hamline University and "Midway Center", one of inner-city Saint Paul's key shopping districts.[22][23] Famous Midway natives include Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz and the band Heiruspecs.[24] [25]

Saint Anthony Park[edit]

Saint Anthony Park [7], known to residents as SAP, is adjacent to the University of Minnesota Saint Paul campus, bordering Northeast Minneapolis on the west and the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on the east. It was the home to three Minnesota governors (William Marshall, 1866–70; Andrew McGill, 1887–1889; and Elmer L. Andersen, 1961–63). In the late 1800s the area was laid out as estates for the wealthy of Minneapolis.[26] It is centrally located in the Twin Cities, with a business district that contains independently owned shops and restaurants. A Carnegie Library and St. Anthony Park Elementary School are the neighborhood's focal points. SAP also has two colleges, the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota and Luther Seminary, and thus is home to graduate students from across the world. The area's largest park is named for former St. Anthony Park resident Nathaniel P. Langford, who was responsible for the world's first national park, Yellowstone.[21]

Union Park[edit]

Union Park [8], created from the merger between former Merriam Park, Snelling Hamline, and Lexington-Hamline District Councils, is a residential neighborhood featuring a large stock of early 20th-century housing, boutique-dominated commercial strips on Selby, Cretin and Cleveland avenues, and the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area forming the neighborhood's western border. Many residents of Union Park still identify their neighborhoods with the original names. Concordia University and part of University of St. Thomas are located in the district.


Macalester-Groveland [9] is the neighborhood surrounding two post-secondary institutions, Macalester College and the University of Saint Thomas. The neighborhood's western border is formed by the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, a public park with walking and biking paths atop the 100-foot (30 m)-tall bluffs along the bank of the Mississippi River.

Merriam Park[edit]

Merriam Park is an attractive older neighborhood on the west side of St. Paul. It is bounded by the Mississippi river to the west, University Avenue to the north, Lexington Parkway to the east, and Summit Avenue to the south. Merriam Park is roughly in the middle of downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul. Entrepreneur John L. Merriam thought the location would make an ideal suburb for businessmen, professional workers and their families. New streetcar lines were being run through the neighborhood, and a railroad line linked the two downtowns by 1880, which also ran through the area. Merriam purchased land, built a rail depot in his future neighborhood, and started selling lots to future homeowners

Highland Park[edit]

Highland Park [10] is home to Saint Catherine University as well as two private preparatory schools, Cretin-Derham Hall High School and St. Paul Academy and Summit School [11]. For eighty five years the neighborhood hosted the Ford Motor Company Twin Cities Assembly Plant where Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series pickup trucks were produced. Ford closed the plant in 2011 and what will become of the ¼ square mile of prime real estate along the Mississippi is yet to be decided.[27]

Summit Hill and Crocus Hill[edit]

The Summit Hill neighborhood [12] is roughly centered on the section of Summit Avenue between Dale Street and John Ireland Boulevard. "Crocus Hill" is the neighborhood adjacent to Summit Hill, and is bounded on the north by Summit Avenue and on the east by "Grand Hill", the hill formed by Grand Avenue as it descends towards downtown Saint Paul. The other two boundaries are St. Clair Avenue to the south, and Lexington Avenue to the west. These neighborhoods were the traditional home of the city's Robber Barons.

Summit Avenue was originally conceived as a broad, Gilded Age showcase street, and is lined with the mansions named after notable Saint Paul figures, such as railroad tycoon James J. Hill. With its vistas of downtown and the Mississippi River, Summit Avenue is thought to be one of the longest stretches of preserved Victorian mansions in North America. It has been home to artists such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda, Sinclair Lewis, August Wilson, and currently Garrison Keillor. More notorious residents have included 1930s-era gangsters such as John Dillinger and members of the Barker-Karpis Gang.


Downtown Saint Paul is the 17th District Council (CapitolRiver Council)[13] and is home to Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild hockey team, Galtier Plaza across from Mears Park, McNally Smith College of Music, Minnesota Swarm, and Wells Fargo Place. Downtown Saint Paul hosts very pleasant parks, most notably the jewel-like Rice Park, one of the oldest parks in the country. The street life has been improving in some areas of downtown, including Mears Park bars and restaurants and along Wabasha and St. Peter Streets, where a small collection of restaurants has developed. The extensive skyway system connecting most of the office buildings has contributed to the removal of foot traffic from the streets.[28]


  1. ^ McClure, Jane (2007-09-26). "LMV report seeks more support and supervision for city's district councils". Villager 55 (9): 1, 2. 
  2. ^ Nelson, Tim (2007-09-11). "Report: Councils 'Need Some Help' Citizen Group Makes Recommendations". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. pp. B3 Local. 
  3. ^ Medcalf, Myron P. (2007-09-11). "St. Paul's neighborhood councils scrutinize their financial status". Star Tribune. pp. B4 Local. 
  4. ^ "Saint Paul Participation". Citizen Participation Project Case Studies. Citizen Participation Project. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  5. ^ a b c d Kunz, Virginia B. (1979). Discover Saint Paul. Ramsey County Historical Society. pp. 45–50. 
  6. ^ "Dayton's Bluff History". Dayton's Bluff District Council. Retrieved on August 14, 2008
  7. ^ Kunz, Virginia B. (1979). Discover Saint Paul. Ramsey County Historical Society. p. 5. 
  8. ^ Kunz, Virginia B. (1979). Discover Saint Paul. Ramsey County Historical Society. pp. 8–9. 
  9. ^ Kunz, Virginia B. (1979). Discover Saint Paul. Ramsey County Historical Society. p. 38. 
  10. ^ "Frogtown or Thomas Dale". Ramsey County Historical Society. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  11. ^ "Census Facts" (PDF). Wilder Research Center. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  12. ^ Martin, Judith A.; Goddard, Antony (1989). Past Choices/Present Landscapes: The Impact of Urban Renewal on the Twin Cities. University of Minnesota Center for Urban and Regional Affairs. pp. 102–103. 
  13. ^ "Rondo Neighborhood & the Building of I-94". Minnesota Historical Society. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  14. ^ Millett, Larry; Millett, Larry (2009). AIA guide to St. Paul's Summit Avenue and Hill Distric. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-87351-644-0. 
  15. ^ Elizabeth Caperton-Halvorson (2006). Newcomer's Handbook for Moving to and Living in Minneapolis - St. Paul (Newcomer's Handbooks). First Books Inc. pp. 65–66. ISBN 0-912301-67-8. 
  16. ^ Kunz, Virginia B. (1979). Discover Saint Paul. Ramsey County Historical Society. p. 23. 
  17. ^ a b City of St. Paul Website:
  18. ^ Twenty-five Years of Facing Change: West 7th/Fort Road Federation 1973-1998
  19. ^ [1].
  20. ^ "America's Top Public High Schools". The complete list of the 1,300 top U.S. schools. MSNBC. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-07-09. Retrieved 2007-07-30. 
  21. ^ a b Empson, Donald; Boxmeyer, Don. The Street Where You Live: A Guide to the Place Names of St. Paul. Univ Of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-4729-3. 
  22. ^ Midway : A Vision for an Urban Center February 25, 2003 University UNITED.
  23. ^ ([ Amtrak)
  24. ^ Thornley, Stew (2006). Baseball in Minnesota: the definitive history. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press. pp. xi. ISBN 978-0-87351-551-1. 
  25. ^ City Pages and 89.3 The Current present HEIRUSPECS CD Release Show First Avenue.
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Berg, Steve (Nov. 15, 2007) "Urban designers critique Minneapolis and offer this idea: Tear down all those horrible skyways" MinnPost

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