Post by ● Sep 9, 2016

City of Anoka: A Brief History

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The Dakota Indians were the first known inhabitants in the Anoka area. However, the tribe was later pushed out west across the Mississippi by the Ojibwa. Eventually, the city of Anoka became a neutral ground between both tribes. The name Anoka is a combination of the two tribe’s name for the area.

The first recorded white visitor to Anoka was Father Lewis Hennepin in 1680. In the 1840s, many years after Hennepin’s visit, the first white settlers came to the area of what would become Anoka, including Joseph Belanger. Belanger was the first official settler, building a log cabin on the east side of the Rum River. For many years, the cabin was used as a trading post with indians.

The area quickly grew after the first logging operation began on banks of the Mississippi and Rum Rivers. Logs were guided down the Rum River to the Mississippi, where they would be sent on to the saw mills in St. Anthony. Saw mills were eventually built on the banks of the Rum River in the 1850’s, turning Anoka into a milling hub for decades to come. With its increasing growth and successful milling industry, Anoka was incorporated as a city in 1878.  

In 1885, a Board of Trade was arranged within Anoka to draw in more industries. One of the first business to move to the area was a potato starch factory, which was built on the west side of the river. The Anoka Shoe Factory also began production at this time and became one of the largest employers in the city, producing 800 shoes a day. In 1898, construction began on the present day state hospital of Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center.

For 28 years, transportation from Anoka across the Mississippi was done entirely by ferry. However, in 1884 a steel bridge was constructed that allowed for easier access to the city, bringing in more business and residents. The growth of the city was impeded for several decades due to 5 major fires that havoced the community. The fire of 1884 destroyed 86 different buildings in the downtown area of the city. In 1939, a tornado swept through the city, destroying several homes, the armory, and a church. After each disaster, the city remained steadfast and completely rebuilt each of the ravaged areas.

Today, the City of Anoka continues to grow and prosper as a suburb north of the Twin Cities. There are currently 17,350 residents in the city.

If you have any questions regarding the city of Anoka, Minnesota, or if you would like to sell or buy a house in the area, please feel free to visit or call 1-800-909-1953.