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ST. PAUL, the county seat and the capital of Minnesota, first settled by Pierre Parrant in 1838, received its name from a little Catholic chapel built in 1841 under the direction of Father Lucian Galtier, who in the preceding year had come to Mendota, near Fort Snelling. The history of the building and naming of the chapel, with the adoption of the name for the village and city, was written in part as follows by Galtier in 1864, at the request of Bishop Thomas L. Grace.
"In 1841, in the month of October, logs were prepared and a church erected, so poor that it would well remind one of the stable at Bethlehem. It was destined, however, to be the nucleus of a great city. On the 1st day of November, in the same year, I blessed the new basilica, and dedicated it to 'Saint Paul, the apostle of nations.' I expressed a wish, at the same time, that the settlement would be known by the same name, and my desire was obtained. I had, previously to this time, fixed my residence at Saint Peter's [Mendota], and as the name of PAUL is generally connected with that of PETER, and the gentiles being well represented in the new place in the persons of the Indians, I called it Saint Paul. The name 'Saint Paul,' applied to a town or city, seemed appropriate. The monosyllable is short, sounds well, and is understood by all denominations of Christians. . . . Thenceforth the place was known as 'Saint Paul Landing,' and, later on, as 'Saint Paul'" (History of the City of Saint Paul by Williams, 1876, pp. 111-12).
The post office was established in St. Croix County, Wisconsin Territory, on April 7, 1846; Jacob Wales Bass, born in Vermont in 1815, came to St. Paul in 1847 and was considered the first postmaster, although he served from 1849-53 at his hotel, the St. Paul House; he died in St. Paul in 1889.
St. Paul was organized as a village or town November 1, 1849, and was incorporated as a city March 4, 1854, then having an area of 2,560 acres, or 4 square miles. It received a new city charter March 6, 1868, when its area was 5.45 square miles, to which about 7 square miles were added February 29, 1872, and again 3 square miles March 6, 1873. West St. Paul, now Riverside, which had belonged to Dakota County, was annexed November 16, 1874, by proclamation of the popular vote ratifying the legislative act of March 5, 1874, whereby the total area of the city was increased to 20 square miles. Further large annexations, March 4, 1885, and February 8, 1887, adding the former McLean and Reserve Townships, extended St. Paul to its present area, 55.44 square miles, which is very nearly the same as the area of Minneapolis.
Prof. A. W. Williamson, in his list of geographic names in this state received from the Dakota, wrote: "Imnizha ska,--imnizha, ledge; ska, white; the Dakota name of St. Paul, given on account of the white sandstone cropping out in the bluffs." In the simplest words, this Dakota name means "White Rock."
As a familiar sobriquet, St. Paul is often called "the Saintly City"; Minneapolis similarly is "the Mill City" or "the Flour City"; and the two are very widely known as "the Twin Cities."
A few districts of St. Paul have been noted in the preceding list, namely Merriam Park, Riverview, andSt. Anthony Park; and the railway stations of Hazel Park and Highwood, likewise before noted, also are in St. Paul. This city has numerous other residential or partially mercantile and manufacturing districts, which may properly be briefly mentioned here. Several districts designated as parks, however, are wholly or partly occupied by residences, this being the case with each of the districts called parks in the following list.
Dayton's Bluff, at the east side of the Mississippi in the southeast part of St. Paul, has a large residence district on the plateau extending backward from its top. The name commemorates Lyman Dayton, a former landowner there for whom a village and township in Hennepin County were named. On the edge of the southern and highest part of the bluff, in Mounds Park, is a series of seven large aboriginal mounds, 4 to 18 feet high, from which a magnificent prospect is obtained, overlooking the river and the central part of the city. Dayton was born in Southington, Conn., August 25, 1810, and died in St. Paul, October 20, 1865. He came to Minnesota in 1849, settling in this city, and invested largely in real estate; was the projector and president of the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad.
Arlington Hills and Phalen Park are northeastern districts, the second being named from Phalen Lake and Creek, for Edward Phelan (whose name was variously spelled), one of his successive land claims, in the earliest years of St. Paul, having been on this creek.
Como Park, the largest public park of the city, with adjoining residences, encloses Lake Como, named by Henry McKenty in 1856 for the widely famed Lake Como adjoining the south side of the Alps in Italy. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1821, settled in St. Paul at the age of 30 years, dealt largely in city lots and farmlands, and died in this city August 10, 1869.
Lexington Park is a western central district, named from Lexington, Mass., where the first battle of the Revolutionary War was fought, April 19, 1775.
Farther northwest and southwest, respectively, are the districts of Hamline and Macalester Park, having the Methodist Hamline University and the Presbyterian Macalester College, named in honor of Bishop Leonidas Lent Hamline (1797-1865) of Ohio, and Charles Macalester (1798-1873) of Philadelphia, a generous donor to this college.
In and near Groveland Park, a district at the west side of the city, bordering on the Mississippi, are three large Catholic institutions, St. Paul Seminary, University of St. Thomas, and College of St. Catherine.
St. Anthony Hill, often called simply the Hill District, comprises a large residential area on a broad plateau that was crossed by the earliest road leading from the central part of St. Paul to the Falls of St. Anthony and the city of this name, which in 1872 was united with Minneapolis.
At Seven Corners, southwest from the business center of St. Paul, streets radiate in seven directions, with buildings on the intervening corners of the city blocks.