Post by ● Jun 6, 2016

City of South St. Paul: A Brief History

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The earliest inhabitants to the South Saint Paul area were the Mdewakanton Dakota Indians. The tribe’s members lived in a village known as Kaposia on the banks of the Mississippi River. However, in the years between 1851 and 1854, the Indians were moved from the area by the federal government in order to open the land to white settlement.

Around the year 1885, a man by the name of Alpheus Beede Stickney purchased land along the Mississippi River to construct the South St. Paul stockyards. Stickeny built the stockyards as a stopping place for western cattle ranchers to unload and fatten their livestock before moving them on to the meatpacking plants in Chicago. Freight railroad tracks were later extended to the stockyards, providing direct shipment to and from the site. Shortly after, meatpacking companies saw the potential for profit in South St. Paul and established plants, which turned the city into a magnet for European immigrants seeking work. Many German, Polish, and Romanian workers were recruited and took up residence in South Saint Paul.     

When the city was officially incorporated in 1897, breaking off from West St. PaulSouth St. Paul was rapidly growing as the blue-collar counterpart to cosmopolitan neighborhoods in Minneapolis and St. Paul.  Also during that time, real estate entrepreneur Charles Clark was successfully attracting industries and people to the bluffs overlooking the river in the new city. By the end of World War II, the city was completely developed from border to border.

However, the city fell upon hard economic times in the second half of the twentieth century. In 1960, the city moved to renovate Concord Street, and started by tearing down more than 120 buildings. The effort died, though, in 1969, leaving 4,000 people without full-time employment. Altogether, 12,000 jobs were lost and South St. Paul declared a federal disaster area.

South St. Paul experienced a remarkable turnaround, starting in 1988 when the city bought and tore down Armour meatpacking industry in order to raise 23 new buildings and 47 acres of land for development. In 2008, the stockyards closed. The once privately owned railroad and stockyard with no public access to the water is now a green space with public a boat launch and a trail.

New clean industries have moved into present day South Saint Paul and the city is now home to around 70 businesses that employ 4,000 people.  

If you have any questions regarding the city of South St. Paul, 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.