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St. Louis Park, Minnesota
St. Louis Park
is a city in Hennepin County
, United States
. It is a first ring-suburb
immediately west of Minneapolis
. Other adjacent cities include Edina
, Golden Valley
, and Hopkins
. Its population was 44,126 at the 2000 census
It is the birthplace or childhood home of American editors author and music historian Stacy Harris, movie directors Joel and Ethan Coen, musician Peter Himmelman, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Senator Al Franken, songwriter Dan Israel, guitarist Sharon Isbin, writer Pete Hautman, writer Stacy Harris, football coach Marc Trestman, and American film director Joe Nussbaum. Baseball announcer Halsey Hall also lived there.
The Pavek Museum of Broadcasting, which has a major collection of antique radio and television equipment, is also in the city. Items range from radios produced by local manufacturers to the Vitaphone system used to cut discs carrying audio for the first "talkie," The Jazz Singer.
Directors Joel and Ethan Coen set their 2009 film, A Serious Man, in St. Louis Park circa 1967. It was important to the Coens to find a neighborhood of original-looking suburban rambler homes as they would have appeared in St. Louis Park in the mid-1960s, and after careful scouting they opted to film scenes in a neighborhood of nearby Bloomington.  However, they used B'Nai Emet Synagogue within St. Louis Park.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 10.9 square miles (28.3 km²); 10.7 square miles (27.7 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.5 km²) (1.92%) is water.
Interstate 394, U.S. Route 169, and Minnesota State Highways 7 and 100 are four of the main routes in the city.
As of the census of 2000, there were 44,126 people, 20,782 households, and 10,557 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,122.5 persons per square mile (1,592.3/km²). There were 21,140 housing units at an average density of 1,975.0 per square mile (762.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 88.91% White, 4.37% African American, 0.45% Native American, 3.21% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 1.28% from other races, and 1.72% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.93% of the population.
There were 20,782 households out of which 22.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.3% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 49.2% were non-families. 37.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.08 and the average family size was 2.81.
In the city the population was spread out with 18.8% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 37.7% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 14.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 90.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $49,260, and the median income for a family was $63,182. Males had a median income of $40,561 versus $32,447 for females. The per capita income for the city was $28,970. About 3.0% of families and 5.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.2% of those under age 18 and 6.7% of those age 65 or over.
The city boasts a relatively high Jewish population, and is home to the Barry Jewish Community Center and several synagogues. It is colloquially referred to by some area residents as "St. Jewish Park" for this reason.
St. Louis Park operates under the Council/Manager form of government. An elected City Council sets the policy and overall direction for the city. Then city workers, under the direction of a professional city manager carry out council decisions and provide day-to-day city services. The city manager is accountable to the City Council. St. Louis Park voters elect the mayor and six (two at-large and four ward) City Council members to four-year terms. The mayor and at-large council members represent all residents; the ward council members are primarily responsible for representing their ward constituents.
St. Louis Park is located in Minnesota's 5th congressional district, represented by Minneapolis lawyer Keith Ellison, a Democrat. The town was placed in this district, which includes traditionally 'liberal' segments of Minneapolis in the redistricting following the 1990 census. Prior to that, St. Louis Park had been part of the 3rd congressional district, along with Edina and other 'conservative' suburbs. The 3rd districit was represented by Republicans Clark McGregor and William Frenzel from 1961 until 1991.
The 1860s village that became St. Louis Park was originally known as Elmwood, which today is a neighborhood inside the city. In August 1886, 31 people signed a petition asking county commissioners to incorporate the Village of St. Louis Park. The petition was officially registered on November 19, 1886.
The name "St. Louis Park" was derived from the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway that ran through the area.
In 1892, lumber baron Thomas Barlow Walker and a group of wealthy Minneapolis industrialists incorporated the Minneapolis Land and Investment Company to focus industrial development in Minneapolis. Walker's company also began developing St. Louis Park for industrial, commercial and residential use.
Generally, development progressed outward from the original village center at the intersection of the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway with Wooddale Avenue. However, this concentric pattern wasn’t strong and was overtaken by Minneapolis expansion. By 1883, the western boundary of Minneapolis was at France Avenue. The Minneapolis city boundary may have continued to expand westward had it not been for St. Louis Park's 1886 incorporation.
By 1893, the downtown area of St. Louis Park had three hotels and many newly arrived companies surrounded the downtown. Around 1890, the village had more than 600 industrial jobs, the majority associated with agriculture implement manufacturing.
The Peavey–Haglin elevator, built in 1899–1900, still stands today. The sign painted on it advertises Nordic Ware
, the current owner of the structure.
The financial panic of 1893 altered the developers’ plans and put a damper on the village's growth. Walker left St. Louis Park to pursue other business ventures.
In 1899, St. Louis Park became the home to the Peavey–Haglin Experimental Concrete Grain Elevator, the world's first concrete, tubular grain elevator which provided an alternative to combustible wooden elevators. Despite the nickname of "Peavey's Folly" and dire predictions that the elevator would burst like a balloon when the grain was drawn off, the experiment worked and concrete elevators have been used ever since.
At the end of World War I, only seven scattered retail stores operated in St. Louis Park because streetcars provided easy access to shopping in Minneapolis. In the 10 years from 1920 to 1930, the population doubled from 2,281 to 4,710. Vigorous homebuilding occurred in the late 1930s to accommodate the pent-up need created during the depression. With America's involvement in World War II, however, all development came to a halt.
Explosive growth came after World War II. In 1940, 7,737 people lived in St. Louis Park. By 1955, more than 30,000 residents had joined them. From 1940 to 1955, growth averaged the equivalent of 6.9 persons moving into St. Louis Park every day. Sixty percent of St. Louis Park's homes were built in a single burst of construction from the late 1940s to the early 1950s.
Residential development was closely followed by commercial developers anxious to bring goods and services to these new households. In the late 1940s, Minnesota's first shopping center — the 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) Lilac Way — was constructed on the northeast corner of Excelsior Boulevard and Highway 100. (The Lilac Way shopping center was torn down in the late 1980s to make way for redevelopment.) Miracle Mile shopping center, built in 1950, and Knollwood Mall, which opened in 1956, remain open today.
In the late 1940s, a group of 11 former army doctors opened the St. Louis Park Medical Center in a small building on Excelsior Boulevard. The medical center merged with Methodist Hospital and, today, is Park Nicollet Health Systems. Park Nicollet Health Systems is the second largest medical clinic in Minnesota (after Rochester's Mayo Clinic).
During the period between 1950 and 1956, 66 new subdivisions were recorded to make room for 2,700 new homes. In 1953 and 1954, the final two parcels — Kilmer and Shelard Park — were annexed. These parcels (originally in Minnetonka) came to St. Louis Park because of its ability to provide sewer and water service.
From village to city
In 1954, voters approved a home rule charter that gave an overwhelmed St. Louis Park the status of a city. That action enabled the city to hire a city manager to assume some of the duties handled by the part-time city council. Several bridges built during that time are now being repaired or destroyed.
In those days, the primary concerns were the physical planning of St. Louis Park, updating zoning and construction codes, expanding sewer and water systems, paving streets, acquiring park land and building schools.
For more on the history of St. Louis Park, see the St. Louis Park Historical Society Page.
The St. Louis Park School District, Independent School District 283, is home to seven public schools serving about 4,200 students in grades K–12 students. St. Louis Park is the only school district in Minnesota in which every public school has been recognized as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education.
In the 1960s, the proportion of school-age children in St. Louis Park was much higher than it is now, although the population has not changed much. Due to declining enrollment over the years, there have been several changes to schools in the district:
- Ethel Baston Elementary School was closed; its building is now occupied by Groves Academy, a private school.
- Fern Hill Elementary School was closed; its building is now occupied by Torah Academy of Minneapolis, a private school.
- Park Hill Elementary School opened in 1950 and closed in 1967. Park Hill enrollment was limited to students in grades one through three.
- Park Knoll Elementary School was demolished to expand the Knollwood Mall.
- Brookside Elementary School, Lenox Elementary School, and Eliot Elementary School were closed as public school buildings: Brookside was procured by a developer who converted the school into condominiums; Lenox Community Center has the SLP Senior Program and preschool on the main floor, with non-profits on the second; Eliot has public and private non-district school renters.
- Central Community Center, the former junior high school, now houses the Spanish Immersion School and other ISD 283 programs, including Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE), Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE), and Community Education programs including Gymnastics and Swimming.
- Peter Hobart Elementary School and Aquila Elementary School became Peter Hobart Primary Center and Aquila Primary center, serving only grades K through 3, and Susan Lindgren Elementary School and Cedar Manor Elementary School became intermediate schools serving only grades 4 through 6.
- In 1970, St. Louis Park Senior High School served only grades 10 through 12 and had about 2500 pupils; now it serves grades 9 through 12 and serves about 1350 pupils.
St. Louis Park athletic teams are nicknamed the Orioles. The school colors are orange and black. In 2005 the school moved out of the Classic Lake Conference and into the North Suburban Conference.
The school won the boys state baskeball tournament in 1962 under coach Lloyd Holm, and had a resurgence in boys basketball in the 1970s under coach August Schmidt. Park went to the state tourney in 1978–80. Park was a power in boys track and field in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and had one of the top football teams in the state in 1970.
Girls sports have been even more successful. The girls basketball teams won two state championships in 1986 and 1990 under head coach Phil Frerk. The school also has one of the state's premier synchronized swimming programs in the state and has won many state championships in the sport. This tradition stems from a strong synchronized swimming program called "The Surf Belles" which preceded the sanctioning of scholastic competition in the sport by the state high school league. The synchronized swimming team placed 3rd in State 2008. The team has achieved this under head coach Linda Gust.
For many years, a fixture at Park athletic events was the school dance line, "The Parkettes." Renowned as the top dance line in the state, the Parkettes served as cheerleaders for the Minnesota Vikings from 1964 to 1983.
Some of the more well known athletes to come out of St. Louis Park include former NBA player and current Timberwolves broadcaster Jim Peterson (1980), NFL coach Marc Trestman (1974), current NHL player Erik Rasmussen (1995) and current Seattle Mariner T.J. Bohn (1998). 1965 graduate Bob Stein was an All-American end at the University of Minnesota who was the youngest player ever to play in a Super Bowl for the Kansas City Chiefs. He later served as the President of the Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA from 1987 to 1994. Former Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans President Jeff Diamond is a 1970 Park graduate.
There are over 2,700 businesses in St. Louis Park, including:
- Park Nicollet Clinic health services — 4,500 employees
- Japs Olson, commercial printing and direct mail — 600 employees
- Travelers Express/Moneygram, deposit banking functions — 450 employees
- Novartis Nutrition Group, food products — 400 employees
- Onvoy Inc., wired telecommunication carrier — 350 employees
- Midwest Plastic Components, plastic products — 200 employees
- Benilde-St. Margaret's School — 200 employees
- Nordic Ware (also known as Northland Aluminum Products), which introduced the Bundt cake in about 1950, household cooking equipment — 135 employees
- Douglas Company, nameplates and decorative emblems — 77 employees
- General Office Products, office equipment rental and leasing — 75 employees
- Hoigaard's, outdoor equipment, apparel, and furniture — 66 employees
The city employs 252 people and the school district (district #283) employs about 762.
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