This illustration greeted readers of the St Paul Daily Globe on Christmas day in 1886, looking at the city’s past, present and its perhaps not entirely correct future. In truth, the city’s population didn’t at all maintain the growth rate seen in the latter half of the 19th century. In fact, as of 2010, the city’s population was said to be just over 285,000.
A chapter of history illustrated

Saint Paul in 1853 / Saint Paul in 1886 / Saint Paul in 1919

An excerpt from the accompanying article:

A young giant

St Paul’s phenomenal growth and great future

It was an infant in 1880 — now look at its size

St Paul has grown to be a city of 125,000 within a brief period.

It might not be strictly accurate to classify William H Seward as a prophet, but when said years ago, while on a visit to St Paul, that it was by nature decreed to be the future seat of empire of America, he evidently knew what he was talking about.

The growth and progress of St Paul since Mr Seward uttered these words has been such as to inspire one with confidence in his assertion, and the realization of his prediction is regarded by all conservative men as one of the certainties of the future. Its past growth has been marvelous, and its future progress is assured.

It is the natural gateway for all the vast Northwestern region, and it is certain to rank in time as one of the great cities of the country. St Paul was not much of a place until 1880, from which time its history really dates.

The first real settlement was made in St Paul in 1838 by two men, one of whom opened a saloon for the Indians, traders and trappers, and the other located a farm. Up to 1847 — when the first survey of the town site was made — the straggling village made little progress. The territorial government was organized in that year, and Governor Alex Ramsey arrived. The population at that time was 840: Some idea of the place four years later — in 1853 — may be gained by reference to the birds eye view printed on an other page of this issue. The population in 1860 was only a little over 10,000; in 1865, about 13,000; in 1870, 20,300; 1875. 33,178; 41,498. The growth, it will be seen, has been slow but gradual since 1860.

But the rapid progress of St Paul really dates from 1880, the population in creasing in these six years at least 75,000. some estimate it at 55,000. The census of 1885 — which did not show the real number of inhabitants — placed the totals at a little over 111,000. It is the general belief that 125,000 is nearer the true figures. What section in the country can show a city with such a marvelous record?

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And it is not alone in population that this great stride forward has been made. The improvements in all directions have fully kept pace with the increase in the number of inhabitants. Magnificent business blocks and public buildings have sprung up on every hand; churches and school houses, which will compare with those in any of the older cities of the East, have been erected in every section of the city; handsome and palatial residences have been built by the thousands; public improvements have been prosecuted with vigor, until St Paul has become one of the hand somest and solidest looking cities in the United States.

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About this story

Source publication: St. Paul Daily Globe (Saint Paul, Minn.)

Source publication date: December 25, 1886

Filed under: 1880s, Drawings & illustrations, Newspapers, Places

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