St. Louis Park is a first-ring suburb just outside of Minneapolis with roughly 45,000 people. It has the charm of a small town, and it's less than five minutes from Minneapolis, so there's easy access to city amenities.
It is renowned for its parks and for its commercial enterprises. There are 51 parks, which covers 11.5% of St. Louis Park. The parks include the Westwood Hills Nature Center, Wolfe Park, Browndale Park, and Oak Hill Park. There are bike trails that connect St. Louis Park to Minneapolis, Uptown, Chaska, and Hopkins so if you're a bike enthusiast, there will be plenty of trails for you to explore.
St. Louis Park is focused on building a strong support system for their youth. It started in 1992 with a speech by the school superintendent to the The Rotary Club about the problems facing the youth, and two members of The Rotary Club decided to tackle the problem. A program called Children First
emerged out of these discussions, and they bring together different sectors of the community to help out children in need.
It is dedicated to the arts, and it has an Arts & Culture Grant Program
that nurtures the creativity of local artists. It's not just limited to the visual arts, either, as they give grants in the areas of music, theater, film, dance, and multimedia as well. The artists do not need to live in St. Louis park, but the projects must take place in the city. In addition, every year, the City allows local artists to display and sell (if they wish) their artwork in the lobby of the third floor of City Hall.
There are thirty-five neighborhoods in St. Louis Park, and you will find the links to each one below.
Then and Now
St. Louis Park started as a village called Elmwood in the 1860s. There was a petition to incorporate as the Village of St. Louis Park in August, 1886, and it was officially registered in November of the same year. The first part of the name stemmed from the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway that ran through the village, whereas 'Park' was added to differentiate it from St. Louis, Missouri. Elmwood is now a neighborhood within St. Louis Park.
In its early years, St. Louis Park was heavily focused on industrial development, thanks to a lumber baron named Thomas Barlow Walker and several of his wealthy friends. By the 1890s, St. Louis Park had over 600 industrial jobs, and a majority of them had to do with the manufacturing of agricultural tools. In 1893, however, there was a financial panic that caused many of the wealthy industrialists, including Walker, to divest from St. Louis Park and go to greener pastures.
Things improved in 1899-1900 when the Peavey-Haglin Experimental Concrete Grain Elevator was built as an alternative to wooden elevators because the latter were prone to catching fire. At the time, it was nicknamed the 'Peavey's Folly', and there were predictions it would fail, but it performed admirably. Once the experiments were concluded, the PHECGE was not used as a grain silo again, but it set the standard for grain elevators in the future.
Economic growth was slow in the early 1900s because the streetcars made it easy to get to Minneapolis and shop there. The population did more than double in the '20s, from roughly 2,200 people to roughly 4,700, and there was an uptick in the building of homes in the '30s, but everything came to a halt during World War 2. Afterwards, the population grew exponentially. The population was nearly 7,800 in 1940, and then it exploded to nearly 40,000 by 1955. The development side of the city also took off after WW2. 60% of the houses built in St. Louis happened in the late '40s through the early '50s.
Retailers also made their way to St. Louis park during this time period. The first Minnesota shopping center, Lilac Way, was built in St. Louis Park in the late 1940s, followed by the Miracle Mile shopping center and Knollwood Mall.
The village was officially turned into a city in 1954 because it was outgrowing its village roots. Becoming a city allowed them to hire a city manager to ease their growing pains.
Now, St. Louis Park is a thriving community that embraces diversity and the rich heritage of the members in their community.
Green / Environmental
St. Louis Park is serious about sustainability and environmental stewardship. They have an ambitious Climate Action Plan
that came about when students brought their concerns about the environment to the city council.
The Climate Action Plan starts with the premise that St. Louis intends to be carbon neutral by 2040, and it outlines the steps necessary to attain this goal. As a way to reach this one big goal, the plan lists seven other concrete midway goals, such as achieving 100% renewable electricity by 2030. There are several projects planned to meet the ultimate goal, including ones that reduce emissions, has building retrofits, and encourages the community in general to be more environmentally conscious since the government only accounts for 2% of the electricity use in the city.
They also want to steer people in the community towards electric cars, have passed an ordinance requiring new and reconstructed parking lots to include EV charging stations
, and are planning on having light rail stops in St. Louis Park to encourage less motor vehicle usage.