A burial mound at Indian Mounds Park
Burial mounds in present-day Indian Mounds Park suggest that the area was originally inhabited by the Hopewell Native Americans about two thousand years ago. From the early 17th century until 1837, the Mdewakanton Dakota, a tribe of the Sioux, lived near the mounds after fleeing their ancestral home of Mille Lacs Lake from advancing Ojibwe. They called the area I-mni-za ska dan (“little white rock”) for its exposed white sandstone cliffs. In the Menominee language it is called Sāēnepān-Menīkān, which means “ribbon, silk or satin village”, suggesting its role in trade throughout the region after the introduction of European goods.
Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, US Army officer Zebulon Pike negotiated approximately 100,000 acres (40,000 ha; 160 sq mi) of land from the local Dakota tribes in 1805 to establish a fort. The negotiated territory was located on both banks of the Mississippi River, starting from Saint Anthony Falls in present-day Minneapolis, to its confluence with the Saint Croix River. Fort Snelling was built on the territory in 1819 at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, which formed a natural barrier to both Native American nations. The 1837 Treaty with the Sioux ceded all local tribal land east of the Mississippi to the U.S. Government. Taoyateduta (Chief Little Crow V) moved his band at Kaposia across the river to the south. Fur traders, explorers, and missionaries came to the area for the fort’s protection. Many of the settlers were French-Canadians who lived nearby. However, as a whiskey trade flourished, military officers banned settlers from the fort-controlled lands. Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant, a retired fur trader-turned-bootlegger who particularly irritated officials, set up his tavern, the Pig’s Eye, near present-day Lambert’s Landing. By the early 1840s, the community had become important as a trading center and a destination for settlers heading west. Locals called the area Pig’s Eye (French: L’Œil du Cochon) or Pig’s Eye Landing after Parrant’s popular tavern.
Joe Rolette was responsible for preventing the capital of Minnesota from moving to Saint Peter.
In 1841, Father Lucien Galtier was sent to minister to the Catholic French Canadians and established a chapel, named for his favorite saint, Paul the Apostle, on the bluffs above Lambert’s Landing. Galtier intended for the settlement to adopt the name Saint Paul in honor of the new chapel. In 1847, a New York educator named Harriet Bishop moved to the area and opened the city’s first school. The Minnesota Territory was formalized in 1849 and Saint Paul named as its capital. In 1857, the territorial legislature voted to move the capital to Saint Peter. However, Joe Rolette, a territorial legislator, stole the physical text of the approved bill and went into hiding, thus preventing the move. On May 11, 1858, Minnesota was admitted to the union as the thirty-second state, with Saint Paul as the capital.
The Meeker Island Lock and Dam was the first lock and dam on the Mississippi River in 1902.
Saint Paul’s history and growth as a landing port are tied to water. The city’s defining physical characteristic, the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, was carved into the region during the last ice age, as were the steep river bluffs and dramatic palisades on which the city is built. Receding glaciers and Lake Agassiz forced torrents of water from a glacial river that undercut the river valleys. The city is situated in east-central Minnesota.
The Mississippi River forms a municipal boundary on part of the city’s west, southwest, and southeast sides. Minneapolis, the state’s largest city, lies to the west. Falcon Heights, Lauderdale, Roseville, and Maplewood are north, with Maplewood lying to the east. The cities of West Saint Paul and South Saint Paul are to the south, as are Lilydale, Mendota, and Mendota Heights, although across the river from the city. The city’s largest lakes are Pig’s Eye Lake, which is part of the Mississippi, Lake Phalen, and Lake Como. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 56.18 square miles (145.51 km2), of which 51.98 square miles (134.63 km2) is land and 4.20 square miles (10.88 km2) is water.
The Parks and Recreation department is responsible for 160 parks and 41 recreation centers. The city ranked #2 in park access and quality, after only Minneapolis, in the 2018 ParkScore ranking of the top 100 park systems across the United States according to the nonprofit Trust for Public Land.
The Ford Motor Company’s Twin Cities Assembly Plant in 2006
The Minneapolis–Saint Paul–Bloomington area employs 1,570,700 people in the private sector as of July 2008, 82.43 percent of which work in private service providing-related jobs.
Major corporations headquartered in Saint Paul include Ecolab, a chemical and cleaning product company which was named in 2008 by the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal as the eighth best place to work in the Twin Cites for companies with 1,000 full-time Minnesota employees, and Securian Financial Group Inc.
The 3M Company is often cited as one of Saint Paul’s companies, though it is located in adjacent Maplewood. 3M employs 16,000 people throughout Minnesota. St. Jude Medical, a manufacturer of medical devices, is directly across the northern border of Saint Paul in Little Canada, though the company’s address is listed in Saint Paul.
The city was home to the Ford Motor Company’s Twin Cities Assembly Plant, which opened in 1924 and closed at the end of 2011. The plant was in Highland Park on the Mississippi River, adjacent to Lock and Dam No. 1, Mississippi River, which generates hydroelectric power. The site is now being cleared of all buildings and tested for contamination to prepare for redevelopment. As the lead developer, the Ryan Company has released a proposed set of zoning changes that will shape how the land will be used.
The city of Saint Paul has financed city development by use of tax increment financing (TIF). In 2018, the city had 55 TIF districts. Some projects that have benefited from TIF funding include the St. Paul Saints stadium, and the affordable housing along the Twin Cities Metro Green Line.
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is a free public greenhouse and urban zoo open year-round.
In winter months, Saint Paul hosts the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, a tradition that began in 1886 when a New York reporter called Saint Paul “another Siberia.” Attended by 350,000 visitors annually, the event showcases ice sculpting, an annual treasure hunt, winter food, activities, and an ice palace. The Como Zoo and Conservatory and adjoining Japanese Garden are popular year-round. The historic Landmark Center in downtown Saint Paul hosts cultural and arts organizations. The city’s notable recreation locations include Indian Mounds Park, Battle Creek Regional Park, Harriet Island Regional Park, Highland Park, the Wabasha Street Caves, Lake Como, Lake Phalen, and Rice Park, as well as several areas abutting the Mississippi River. The Irish Fair of Minnesota is also held annually at the Harriet Island Pavilion area. And the country’s largest Hmong American sports festival, the Freedom Festival, is held the first weekend of July at McMurray Field near Como Park.
The city is associated with the Minnesota State Fair in nearby Falcon Heights just west of Saint Paul’s Como Park neighborhood and southeast of the University of Minnesota Saint Paul Campus. Though Fort Snelling is on the Minneapolis side of the Mississippi River bluff, the area including Fort Snelling State Park and Pike Island is managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources headquartered in the city.
The Minnesota Centennial Showboat was anchored in the Mississippi River along Harriet Island.
Saint Paul is the birthplace of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz (Peanuts), who lived in Merriam Park from infancy until 1960. Schulz’s Snoopy cartoon inspired giant, decorated Peanuts sculptures around the city, a Chamber of Commerce promotion in the late 1990s. Other notable residents include writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, playwright August Wilson, who premiered many of the ten plays in his Pittsburgh Cycle at the local Penumbra Theater, painter LeRoy Neiman, and photographer John Vachon.
The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts hosts theater productions and the Minnesota Opera is a founding tenant. RiverCentre, attached to Xcel Energy Center, serves as the city’s convention center. The city has contributed to the music of Minnesota and the Twin Cities music scene through various venues. Great jazz musicians have passed through the influential Artists’ Quarter, first established in the 1970s in Whittier, Minneapolis, and moved to downtown Saint Paul in 1994. Artists’ Quarter also hosts the Soapboxing Poetry Slam, home of the 2009 National Poetry Slam Champions. At The Black Dog, in Lowertown, many French or European jazz musicians (Evan Parker, Tony Hymas, Benoît Delbecq, François Corneloup) have met Twin Cities musicians and started new groups touring in Europe. Groups and performers such as Fantastic Merlins, Dean Magraw/Davu Seru, Merciless Ghosts, and Willie Murphy are regulars. The Turf Club in Midway has been a music scene landmark since the 1940s. Saint Paul is also the home base of the internationally acclaimed Rose Ensemble. As an Irish stronghold, the city boasts popular Irish pubs with live music, such as Shamrocks, The Dubliner, and O’Gara’s. The internationally acclaimed Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra is the nation’s only full-time professional chamber orchestra. The Minnesota Centennial Showboat on the Mississippi River began in 1958 with Minnesota’s first centennial celebration
Saint Paul hosts a number of museums, including the University of Minnesota’s Goldstein Museum of Design, the Minnesota Children’s Museum, the Schubert Club Museum of Musical Instruments, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, the Traces Center for History and Culture, the Minnesota History Center, the Alexander Ramsey House, the James J. Hill House, the Minnesota Transportation Museum, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the Twin City Model Railroad Museum.
1930s-era students at Hamline University taking finals
Main article: Education in Saint Paul, Minnesota
Saint Paul is second in the United States in the number of higher education institutions per capita. Higher education institutions that call Saint Paul home include three public and eight private colleges and universities and five post-secondary institutions. Well-known colleges and universities include the Saint Catherine University, Concordia University, Hamline University, Macalester College, and the University of St. Thomas. Metropolitan State University and Saint Paul College, which focus on non-traditional students, are based in Saint Paul, as well as a law school, Mitchell Hamline School of Law.
The Saint Paul Public Schools district is the state’s largest school district and serves approximately 39,000 students. The district is extremely diverse with students from families speaking 90 different languages, although only five languages are used for most school communication: English, Spanish, Hmong, Karen, and Somali. The district runs 82 different schools, including 52 elementary schools, twelve middle schools, seven high schools, ten alternative schools, and one special education school, employing over 6,500 teachers and staff. The school district also oversees community education programs for pre-K and adult learners, including Early Childhood Family Education, GED Diploma, language programs, and various learning opportunities for community members of all ages. In 2006, Saint Paul Public Schools celebrated its 150th anniversary. Some students attend public schools in other school districts chosen by their families under Minnesota’s open enrollment statute.
A variety of K-12 private, parochial, and public charter schools are also represented in the city. In 1992, Saint Paul became the first city in the US to sponsor and open a charter school, now found in most states across the nation. Saint Paul is currently home to 21 charter schools as well as 38 private schools. The Saint Paul Public Library system includes a central library and twelve branch locations.
Minnesota Public Radio headquarters in downtown Saint Paul
Residents of Saint Paul can receive 10 broadcast television stations, five of which broadcast from within Saint Paul. One daily newspaper, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, two weekly neighborhood newspapers, the East Side Review and City Pages (owned by The Star Tribune Company), and several monthly or semimonthly neighborhood papers serve the city. It was the only city in the United States with a population of 250,000 or more to see an increase in circulation of Sunday newspapers in 2007. Several media outlets based in neighboring Minneapolis also serve the Saint Paul community, including the Star Tribune. Saint Paul is home to Minnesota Public Radio, a three-format system that broadcasts on nearly 40 stations around the Midwest. MPR locally delivers news and information, classical, and The Current (which plays a wide variety of music). The station has 110,000 regional members and more than 800,000 listeners each week throughout the Upper Midwest, the largest audience of any regional public radio network. Also operating as part of American Public Media, MPR’s programming reaches five million listeners, most notably through Live from Here, hosted by Chris Thile (previously known as A Prairie Home Companion, hosted by Garrison Keillor, who also lives in the city). The Fitzgerald Theater, renamed in 1994 for Saint Paul native and novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, is home to the show.
Ciudad Romero (El Salvador)
Culiacán, Sinaloa (Mexico)
Changsha, Hunan (China)
Lawaaikamp (South Africa)
Manzanillo, Colima (Mexico)
Nagasaki (Japan) (1955) the oldest sister city in Japan
Neuss, North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany)
Walter Abel (1898-1987), actor
Loni Anderson (born 1946), actress
Louie Anderson (born 1953), comedian
Wendell Anderson (1933-2016), US Senator
Richard Arlen (1899-1976), actor
Harry Blackmun (1908-1999), US Supreme Court Associate Justice, grew up in St. Paul
Winfield S. Braddock (born 1848), Wisconsin State Assemblyman
Herb Brooks (born 1937), hockey coach
Warren Burger (born 1907), US Supreme Court Chief Justice
Melva Clemaire (1874-1937), soprano singer
Eyedea (1981-2010), rap artist
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940), author
Josh Hartnett (born 1978), actor
Hippo Campus, indie rock band
Paul Holmgren (born 1955), NHL hockey player, general manager, president of Philadelphia Flyers (2014–present)
Rachel Keller (born 1992), actress
Allan Kingdom (born 1993), rap artist
Tony Levine (born 1972), football coach
Joe Mauer (born 1983), MLB baseball player
Ryan McDonagh (born 1989), NHL hockey player
Kate Millett (born 1934), scholar, author, feminist
Paul Molitor (born 1956), MLB baseball player
Jack Morris (born 1955), MLB baseball player
LeRoy Neiman (born 1921), artist
Bruce Olson (born 1941), missionary
Tim Pawlenty (born 1960), former Governor of Minnesota
Alfred E. Perlman (1902-1983), president of New York Central Railroad and its successor, Penn Central
Isaac Rosefelt (born 1985), American-Israeli basketball player for Maccabi Ashdod in the Israeli Basketball Premier League
Charles Schulz (1922–2000), cartoonist, born in Minneapolis, grew up in St. Paul
Fred Tschida (born 1949), artist, born in Saint Paul
Lindsey Vonn (born 1984), Olympic skier and gold medalist
DeWitt Wallace (1889–1981), magazine publisher and co-founder of Reader’s Digest
Dave Winfield (born 1951), MLB baseball player