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Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/St Paul (Minnesota)

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ST PAUL, a city of the United States, second city of Minnesota, a port of entry and the capital of the State and of Ramsey county, is situated in 44° 52' 46" N. lat. and 93° 5' W. long., on the Mississippi river, 2150 miles from its mouth, 10 below the falls of St Anthony, the natural head of navigation, and 360 north-west of Chicago. The ground on which the city is built rises from the river in a series of terraces, the ascent being in many places precipitous and not easily adapted to urban uses. The city is mainly confined to the second and third terraces, but is gradually spreading over the elevated plateau beyond. The difficulties of the situation have much increased the cost of erecting large business structures, circumscribed the business quarter, and impeded the railway companies in securing convenient and adequate facilities. The city site is underlaid with a thick stratum of bluish limestone, which comes near the surface, and which, while it renders excavation expensive, furnishes unlimited supplies of building material of a fair quality. The streets of the older portions are uncomfortably narrow, but the newer streets are better laid out. The chief public buildings are the State capitol (built in 1882), the United States custom-house and post-office, the city-hall, and the city-market. A handsome opera-house and a chamber of commerce building are conspicuous features. In 1885 there were seventy-one church organizations,—9 Episcopal, 7 Presbyterian, 4 Congregational, 12 Methodist, 12 Lutheran, 2 Jewish, 7 Baptist, 11 Roman Catholic, 1 Unitarian, 4 Evangelical, 1 Swedenborgian, and 1 Disciples of Christ. Besides the charitable institutions connected with the church organizations there are an orphan asylum, a home for the friendless, a Swedish hospital, a women's Christian home, and a Magdalen home. Of periodical publications there were issued in 1885 5 dailies, 17 weeklies, and 7 monthlies. The city has (1886) eleven banks, of which six are national with an aggregate paid-up capital of $5,200,000, and five State institutions with a paid-up capital of $1,150,000. St Paul is an important railway centre, dividing with Minneapolis the terminal and distributing business of no less than fifteen lines owned by six different corporations and having an aggregate length of 15,818 miles. The navigation of the upper Mississippi acts as a check upon the rates charged by the railway companies. The traffic at the port of St Paul in 1884 was—tons landed, 45,800; tons shipped, 13,300; passengers carried, 34,625. Two lines of steamers ply between St Paul and St Louis and intermediate points. The average season of navigation lasts six and a half months. The city has within its corporate limits, but removed some miles from the city proper, two colleges—Macalester (Presbyterian) and Hamline (Methodist)—both only partially endowed or supplied with buildings. There are twenty-two public school buildings, built at an aggregate cost of $663,000. There are also several academies and seminaries under private or denominational management. The public park system of St Paul is as yet undeveloped, but an area of 250 acres has been secured near Lake Como to be laid out as pleasure-grounds. Rice Park and Smith Park are public squares in the central portion of the city, tastefully adorned with walks and shrubbery. The population of St Paul, according to the United States census, was 840 in 1850, 10,600 in 1860, 20,300 in 1870, and 41,473 in 1880 (males 22,483, females 18,990). According to the State census, it was 111,334 in 1885.

St Paul is a commercial rather than a manufacturing city. The jobbing trade for the year 1884 reached a total of about $65,000,000, an increase of 50 per cent. in four years. In the same year manufactures valued at $20,000,000 were produced, the principal items being agricultural implements, boots and shoes, machinery, sash, doors, and blinds, waggons and carriages. There is a large flour-mill, capable of producing 700 barrels daily. The lack of water-power and the high cost of fuel are drawbacks to the growth of manufactures. The main thoroughfares have recently been paved, for the most part with blocks of white cedar, and stone sidewalks are rapidly replacing wooden ones. The water-supply is obtained from a group of small lakes lying north of the city limits, and the works are owned and managed by the city. The drainage is excellent. For governmental purposes the city consists of eight wards, each of which elects three members of council. The chief of police and all subordinate members of the force are appointed by the mayor, who is elected by popular vote in May of each alternate year. The aggregate assessed valuation of real and personal property in St Paul was $60,463,000 in 1884. The total bonded debt of the city on 31st March 1885 was officially stated at $3,027,141.

The first settlement on the site of St Paul was in 1838, when an unimportant trading-post was established there by adventurers. In 1841 a Jesuit missionary built a log chapel and dedicated it to St Paul (whence the name of the hamlet). The site of the future city was surveyed and laid out in 1849-50. About this time (1851) the Sioux Indians ceded to the United States all lands held by them between the Mississippi and Big Sioux rivers. Prior to this cession the white population in the then Territory of Minnesota had not reached a total of 6000, but the removal of the aborigines was promptly followed by a notable influx of white settlers. With a population of some 2800 in 1854 the town obtained a fully organized city government. Upon the admission of Minnesota to the Union in 1858 St Paul was designated as the capital. The city was originally confined to the east bank of the river, but in 1874 by popular vote a portion of Dakota county was transferred to Ramsey county, and West St Paul on the west bank of the Mississippi, then containing some 3000 inhabitants, became a part of St Paul proper. In 1884 an Act of the State legislature extended the geographical boundaries of the city so as to embrace all territory in Ramsey county westward to the line of Hennepin county, and virtually to the corporate limits of the “sister” city Minneapolis, 10 miles distant.


EB9 St Paul.jpg

Plan of St Paul.

1. State Capitol.  3. City-Hall.  6. Chamber of Commerce. 
2. U.S. Custom-House and Post-Office.   4. City-Market.  7. Rice Park.
 5. Opera-House.   8. Smith Park.