St. Paul, Minnesota, the capital and second largest city of the state, and the seat of Ramsey County. It is in southeastern Minnesota on the Mississippi River near the mouth of the Minnesota River. St. Paul and the adjoining city of Minneapolis are known as the Twin Cities. St. Paul lies chiefly on the north side of the Mississippi and rises from 700 feet (210 m) to almost 1,100 feet (335 m) above sea level.
St. Paul's central business district, nine miles (14 km) east of downtown Minneapolis, fronts on the north bank of the Mississippi. Industrial areas and railroad yards along the river flank downtown St. Paul. Most of the city's residential areas are on higher ground, some distance from the river.
St. Paul is an important center for shipping and commerce. It also has industries that produce such diverse items as adhesives, abrasives, electronic equipment, autos, and printed and published materials. St. Paul also has refineries, chemical plants, and breweries. St. Paul's various attractions make the tourist industry an important part of the city's economy.
St. Paul is served by a network of railways, and by highways that include Interstate routes 35 and 94. On the Mississippi, barges carry coal, grain, and petroleum between the Twin Cities and downstream points. Minneapolis—St. Paul International Airport is eight miles (13 km) southwest of downtown St. Paul.
On Kellogg Boulevard, on the downtown riverfront, are several prominent buildings, including the 20-story city hall and courthouse, the main public library, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and Union Depot. The state capitol overlooks downtown St. Paul from a hill about one mile (1.6 km) from the river. A zoo, a conservatory, and picnic and boating facilities are located in Como Park, which surrounds one of the city's several lakes. Notable annual events include the state fair, usually held in late August, and the winter carnival.
A number of cultural organizations, including the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Opera, perform at the Ord-way Center for the Performing Arts. Institutions of higher learning include Macalester College, Hamline University, and the University of Minnesota's Institute of Agriculture.
St. Paul has the mayor-council form of government. A Metropolitan Council supervises certain regional functions in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.
Father Louis Hennepin, a Franciscan friar and explorer of the late 1600's, was probably the first European to visit the St. Paul area. The U.S. Army established Fort St. Anthony (later Fort Snelling) in 1819 at the junction of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers to protect river commerce and the fur trade. In 1840 several squatter families, evicted from Indian land near the fort, crossed the Mississippi and moved eastward a short distance. Their new settlement, on the present site of downtown St. Paul, was called Pigs Eye after the nickname of a local trader.
The community was renamed the following year when a chapel was built here and dedicated to Saint Paul. It was incorporated as a town and made the capital of Minnesota Territory in 1849.
By the time regular steamboat service was established on the river around 1847, bringing more settlers and traders, the town was well on its way to becoming one of the most important centers on the upper Mississippi. More than 10,000 people lived here when the first railroad came through in 1862. Thirty years later, when rail links to all parts of the nation had been built, St Paul had more than 150,000 citizens.