Saint Paul (abbreviated St. Paul) is the capital and second-most populous city of the U.S. state of Minnesota. As of 2018, the city’s estimated population was 307,695. Saint Paul is the county seat of Ramsey County, the smallest and most densely populated county in Minnesota. The city lies mostly on the east bank of the Mississippi River in the area surrounding its point of confluence with the Minnesota River, and adjoins Minneapolis, the state’s largest city. Known as the “Twin Cities”, the two form the core of Minneapolis–Saint Paul, the 16th-largest metropolitan area in the United States, with about 3.6 million residents.
Saint Paul’s history and growth as a landing port are tied to water. The city’s defining physical characteristic, the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, was carved into the region during the last ice age, as were the steep river bluffs and dramatic palisades on which the city is built. Receding glaciers and Lake Agassiz forced torrents of water from a glacial river that undercut the river valleys. The city is situated in east-central Minnesota.
The Mississippi River forms a municipal boundary on part of the city’s west, southwest, and southeast sides. Minneapolis, the state’s largest city, lies to the west. Falcon Heights, Lauderdale, Roseville, and Maplewood are north, with Maplewood lying to the east. The cities of West Saint Paul and South Saint Paul are to the south, as are Lilydale, Mendota, and Mendota Heights, although across the river from the city. The city’s largest lakes are Pig’s Eye Lake, which is part of the Mississippi, Lake Phalen, and Lake Como. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 56.18 square miles (145.51 km), of which 51.98 square miles (134.63 km) is land and 4.20 square miles (10.88 km) is water.
The Parks and Recreation department is responsible for 160 parks and 41 recreation centers. The city ranked #2 in park access and quality, after only Minneapolis, in the 2018 ParkScore ranking of the top 100 park systems across the United States according to the nonprofit Trust for Public Land.
The earliest known inhabitants from about 400 A.D. were members of the Hopewell tradition who buried their dead in mounds (now Indian Mounds Park) on the bluffs above the river. The next known inhabitants were the Mdewakanton Dakota in the 17th century who fled their ancestral home of Mille Lacs Lake in central Minnesota in response to westward expansion of the Ojibwe nation. The Ojibwe would later occupy the north (east) bank of the Mississippi River.
By 1800, French-Canadian explorers came through the region and attracted fur traders to the area. Fort Snelling and nearby Pig’s Eye Tavern also brought the first Yankees from New England and English, Irish, and Scottish immigrants who had enlisted in the army and settled nearby after discharge. These early settlers and entrepreneurs built houses on the heights north of the river. The first wave of immigration came with the Irish who settled at Connemara Patch along the Mississippi, named for their home in Connemara Ireland. The Irish would become prolific in politics, city governance, and public safety, much to the chagrin of the Germans and French who had grown into the majority. In 1850, the first of many groups of Swedish immigrants passed through Saint Paul on their way to farming communities in northern and western regions of the territory. A large group settled in Swede Hollow, which would later become home to Poles, Italians, and Mexicans. The last Swedish presence had moved up Saint Paul’s East Side along Payne Avenue in the 1950s.
In terms of people who specified European ancestry in the 2005–2007 American Community Survey, the city was 26.4% German, 13.8% Irish, 8.4% Norwegian, 7.0% Swedish, and 6.2% English. There is also a visible community of people of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, representing 4.2% of Saint Paul’s population. By the 1980s, the Thomas Dale area, once an Austro-Hungarian enclave known as Frogtown (German: Froschburg), became home to Vietnamese people who had left their war-torn country. A settlement program for the Hmong diaspora came soon after, and by 2000, the Saint Paul Hmong were the largest urban contingent in the United States. Mexican immigrants have settled in Saint Paul’s West Side since the 1930s, and have grown enough that Mexico opened a foreign consulate in 2005.
The majority of residents claiming religious affiliation are Christian, split between the Roman Catholic Church and various Protestant denominations. The Roman Catholic presence comes from Irish, German, Scottish, and French Canadian settlers who, in time, would be bolstered by Hispanic immigrants. There are Jewish synagogues such as Mount Zion Temple and relatively small populations of Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists. The city has been dubbed “paganistan” due to its large Wiccan population.
As of the 2005–2007 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, White Americans made up 66.5% of Saint Paul’s population, of whom 62.1% were non-Hispanic whites, down from 93.6% in 1970. Blacks or African Americans made up 13.9% of Saint Paul’s population, of whom 13.5% were non-Hispanic blacks. American Indians made up 0.8% of Saint Paul’s population, of whom 0.6% were non-Hispanic. Asian Americans made up 12.3% of Saint Paul’s population, of whom 12.2% were non-Hispanic. Pacific Islander Americans made up less than 0.1% of Saint Paul’s population. Individuals of other races made up 3.4% of Saint Paul’s population, of whom 0.2% were non-Hispanic. Individuals from two or more races made up 3.1% of Saint Paul’s population, of whom 2.6% were non-Hispanic. In addition, Hispanics and Latinos made up 8.7% of Saint Paul’s population.
As of the 2000 U.S. Census, there were 287,151 people, 112,109 households, and 60,999 families residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 67.0% White, 11.7% African American, 1.1% Native American, 12.4% Asian (mostly Hmong), 0.1% Pacific Islander, 3.8% from other races, and 3.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 7.9% of the population.
As of the census of 2010, there were 285,068 people, 111,001 households, and 59,689 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,484.2 inhabitants per square mile (2,117.5/km). There were 120,795 housing units at an average density of 2,323.9 per square mile (897.3/km). The racial makeup of the city was 60.1% white, 15.7% African American, 1.1% Native American, 15.0% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 3.9% from other races, and 4.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 9.6% of the population.
There were 111,001 households of which 30.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.1% were married couples living together, 14.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 46.2% were non-families. 35.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.33.
The median age in the city was 30.9 years. 25.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 13.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 29.6% were from 25 to 44; 22.6% were from 45 to 64; and 9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.9% male and 51.1% female.