West Side Neighborhood
West Saint Paul or West Side as the locals call it is actually located Southeastern part of St. Paul. It got its name because it is actually on the West bank of the Mississippi River. In 1858, the same year that Minnesota became a state, West Saint Paul was incorporated. In that year about 400 people were living on the flat open spaces created by the Mississippi river. Very quickly the name of this area was shortened to the West Side by it’s residents.
Up until this time, the area was only accessible from Downtown Saint Paul by ferry. One year later, the Wabasha Bridge was completed to make access to this area easier. Then in 1874, the City of St. Paul annexed the West side. It is said that the city annexed for two reasons: To eliminate the Wabasha Street Bridge tolls that were slowing development on the West Side and “to aid law enforcement” (because St. Paul criminals previously could just cross the river and be out of jurisdiction from the city police!
Because of the frequent flooding, this area originated as a place for the poorest of immigrants. Housing and industry grew up together on this flat plain with business thriving until the mid 1960s when the commercial buildings were raised and the intersections of Concord with State and Roberts Streets because the retail center of the West Side.
Prospect Terrace was the once the West Side’s attempt to complete with the finest houses on Summit Avenue, Crocus Hill and Dayton’s bluff. The architecture was as diverse as the neighborhood with Queen Annes, Italiantes, four-squares, bungalows, and shanty worker houses.
West St. Paul is also home to Harriet Island Regional Park. This park was originally given to St. Paul in 1900 by the city’s first health director. Over the years it has been used as a zoo, swimming beaches, playgrounds, and more recently a festival grounds.
In the 1980s, a group of West Side business owners founded the Riverview Economic Development Association (REDA). These merchants were experiencing a declining economy at that time and felt the negative impacts it had on their businesses, the commercial district, and the surrounding neighborhood. These small business owners developed an organization that would play a strong leadership in the West Side neighborhood undergoing riverfront revitalization and re-development to supply the growing demand for scenic, urban housing with lofts and condos. Several mixed-use developments are in the works for the area as well. Single-family housing in the area is generally comprised of modest bungalows, many of which have seen upgrades and updates.