Two of the village's landowners and five businessmen from Minneapolis created the St. Louis Park Land and Improvement Company, the city's first developer. In 1886 and 1887, they platted three subdivisions.
In 1890, 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 Railroad (now CP Rail) 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.
In August of 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. By incorporating, these citizens hoped to turn this small community into a boom town.
Around 1890, the village had more than 600 industrial jobs, the majority associated with agriculture implement manufacturing.
By 1893, the downtown area of St. Louis Park had three hotels and many newly arrived companies surrounded the downtown. The St. Louis Park Tennis Club financial panic of 1893 altered the developer’s 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 world's first concrete, tubular grain elevator and 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. You can still see this former grain elevator (which is now on the Historic Landmark Register). It's the tall chimney-like Nordic Ware tower near Highway 7 and 100.
In 1954, voters approved a home rule charter that gave St. Louis Park the status of a city. That action enabled St. Louis Park to hire a city manager to assume some of the duties handled by the part-time city council.
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.
Today, most of St. Louis Park is developed, and much of the focus has shifted from building infrastructure to improving it. St. Louis Park actively encourages quality redevelopment and is a recognized leader in redevelopment aimed at creating livable communities, areas that are less reliant on cars and offer a mix of housing, shopping, entertainment and jobs within a short distance of one another.
Learn more about the history of St. Louis Park on the St. Louis Park Historical Society website.