Why Does This Blog Exist?

You never know what you'll find here - anything with genealogical or historical value is fair game. This blog will be updated as I clean out my office, go through boxes and piles, or find pertinent items at antique shops. In the meantime, I hope you find something of interest here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

St. Paul–Chapter XVI–The Growing Community

(From “St. Paul Location-Development-Opportunities” by F. C. Miller, Ph. D., Webb Book Publishing Co., St. Paul, Minnesota, 1928)

Progress, man’s distinctive mark alone.
          -Robert Browning

From records that were published in 1857 we learn that in that year there were in St. Paul five masons, four plasterers, two painters, two blacksmiths, two wheelwrights, one saddle and harness maker, one gunsmith, one tanner, one shoemaker, three bakers, and seventeen carpenters.


There were several general stores, four newspapers, a few private hanks, and two or three hotels. The first newspaper was the Minnesota Pioneer, established in 1819. The Minnesota Democrat followed in 1850. The First National Bank, the first national bank in Minnesota, was established in 1863. The St. Paul House was 20 by 28 feet, a story and a half high, and built of tamarack logs. It was in this hotel that the territory of Minnesota was organized.

For land transportation there were at first two stage lines, a "Red Line" that ran to St. Anthony, Stillwater, and Prairie du Chien, and a "Yellow Line" that ran to St. Anthony. The Northwestern Express Company was established in 1854, and in 1800 the stage business engaged 700 horses and 200 men.

Steamship companies estimated that they had brought into this territory as many as 25,000 immigrants in one season.  In fact, St. Paul was enjoying a boom, much as many other western towns have done. There was a great deal of speculation in real estate. A  newspaper reporter said that all he heard was "Land! Land! Land!"

There was a general panic throughout the country and the boom soon quieted down to the disappointment of many. But the city went forward.

Railroads came. In 1852 "The Minnesota and Pacific Railroad" was completed between St. Paul and St. Anthony. The name was then changed to the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad.   In 1858 a railroad had been completed from Milwaukee to La Crosse. On July 2, 1862, the first train arrived over the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway, recently reorganized and called the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. This new inlet and outlet shortened distances and removed difficulties.

Within a few years other roads were built in various directions and St. Paul had rapid and easy means of transportation to a large surrounding territory as well as to the distant parts of the country.

The railroads are listed in the chapter on transportation. 

When the Northern Pacific was completed to the coast a great celebration was held in St. Paul at which were President Arthur, General Grant, and many other men of national prominence.

The completion of this road that connected the city with the Pacific coast was an event of momentous importance and well deserved the interest and enthusiasm that were manifested. In fact, it was an event of national importance.  The celebration was very fittingly attended by the President and other men who represented the government and the whole country. Locally, however, it was certain that St. Paul would now have coast to coast connections and that increasing commerce would promote a rapid development of the city and the territory contributory' to it.

Subsequently, during the sixties, the Second National Bank was opened, the St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co. was incorporated, and the Daily Dispatch was issued. Fire engines were purchased. The Grand Opera House and the Pioneer Building were erected  along with thousands of other business buildings and residences, and city waterworks were constructed. School facilities were expanded and high school courses offered. By 1868 nearly one million letters passed through the post Office in a year.

In 1858 Minnesota was admitted to the Union as a state, with St. Paul as capital. This  fact naturally tended to promote the growth of the city. 

It is a great task to build a city and especially one situated like St. Paul. Much grading must be done for streets and buildings, streets must be paved, sewers and water and gas mains constructed, bridges built, public buildings erected, and street car and railway tracks put down. The cost of such public improvements amounts to many millions of dollars.

"Rome was not built in a day." Neither are other cities. At first there were ferries for crossing the Mississippi. In 1858 the Wabasha bridge was completed. Gradually came mother city bridges and railroad bridges. The first legislature met in a hotel. Then a capitol was built, later it was replaced by another, and then by a third, till we have now a structure of magnificence.

The earliest hotels were not inviting. Better ones gradually took their places. Even the better ones, such hotels as the Windsor and the Merchants, associated with much of the city's earlier history and progress, have given way to superior accommodations.

In 1867 the Chamber of Commerce was established with 167 members. The purpose of the association was "to advance the commercial, mercantile, and manufacturing interests, and to promote the general prosperity" of the city. Later, the Board of Trade, composed mostly of merchants, was incorporated. A great deal of the growth and  prosperity of St. Paul may be attributed to the efforts of these organizations.

With the coming of more railroads and immigrants more industries and wider trade relations were secured. Eastern and foreign capital came for investment. It was evident that here was to be a great industrial and commercial center where business would be certain and capital safe.

The city was founded and developed not by men of ease who had made their fortunes but by men of adventure and hardihood who were determined to make a way in the face of hardship and difficulties. They were aggressive, "up and doing," and persistent. For the most part, too, they were men of education and character whose ideals and labors were not wholly selfish, men of enterprise, but men who eave the city also a mold of culture and distinction.

And so, from stage coach and ferry and but a city grew, not by magic but by the appeal of its location, by the trend of civilization, and by the loyalty and efforts of citizens of vision and enterprise, to be a vast acreage of tall blocks, of towering stacks, of whirring wheels, of domes and spires, of schools and colleges and churches, and of homes and boulevards and beauty.

What were some of the early means of travel?
What events narrated in this chapter do you believe were most important? Why?
What advantages and what disadvantages would there be in constructing a city on this site?

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