St. Paul's Summit-University Neighborhood:
St. Paul's Summit-University neighborhood is an older residential neighborhood just to the west of downtown St. Paul. It is bounded by Lexington Avenue in the west, University Avenue in the north, Summit Avenue in the south, and Interstate 35E to the east.
The area is also called Summit-U, or referred to as part of Summit Hill. Summit Hill is is actually a separate official neighborhood to the south of Summit-University, but Summit-University and Summit Hill are usually collectively called Summit Hill. The east park of the neighborhood, around St. Paul's Cathedral, is called Cathedral Hill.
St. Paul was founded in the early 1800s as a trading post. The city grew, the railroad came to town, and the downtown area became more and more crowded. Wealthy merchants sought to move out of the cramped city center.
The obvious choice was to move to the river bluffs above the Mississippi, out of the smoky air of downtown, but still close to their business interests. St. Paul's elite built impressive mansions on the hill, along what is now Summit Avenue.
When stagecoach routes, and later streetcar lines, were run through the area, working class families started moving to the neighborhood.
Attracted by the streetcars and proximity to the city center, middle income families began to move to Summit-University early in the 20th century. Many wood frame houses were built, together with brick row houses, elegant offices, hotels and apartment buildings.
As St. Paul grew during the 1910s and 1920s, demand for housing in the area lead to many single-family homes being torn down and replaced with art deco apartment blocks.
In 1922, an city ordinance was passed prohibiting new multi-family homes. Very little new construction has taken place in the area since the 1920s so the area looks much as it did then.
Summit-University's most prominent attraction is the Cathedral of St. Paul. The cathedral is located at the east end of Summit Avenue, on a high bluff overlooking downtown St. Paul.
Summit-University contains several buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and much of the neighborhood is designated by the NRHP as the "Historic Hill" Historic District.
Summit-University's Famous Residents:
St. Paul's most famous son, F. Scott Fitzgerald, lived in houses in the Cathedral Hill area for much of his life.
The Governor's residence is located at 1006 Summit Avenue. The mansion is the official residence of Minnesota's first family.
Many of the grand mansions of Summit Avenue are still home to the descendents of their original builders.
The rest of the neighborhood is the home of well-to-do families, and students of local colleges drawn to the chic apartments close to downtown and nearby Grand Avenue's nightlife.
Summit-University has some of the Twin Cities' priciest real estate, with houses, condominiums and apartments costing well above the average price of a home in the city of St. Paul.
Summit-University's Local Businesses:
Most commercial activity is concentrated along Selby Avenue, between Dale Street and Western Avenue, referred to as the Cathedral Hill Business District. Selby Avenue is home to salons, galleries, restaurants, and coffee shops.
In comparison to busy Grand Avenue, Selby Avenue offers a more relaxed but still happening night out.
Transport in Summit-University:
Summit Hill is well connected. Interstate 94 runs east-west through the neighborhood, and Interstate 35E runs along the east border.
Two bus routes travel through Summit Hill. The 63 bus runs along Grand Avenue with buses to downtown St. Paul and the University of St. Thomas.
The 21 bus runs along Selby Avenue connecting downtown St. Paul to uptown Minneapolis.
Once in Summit-University, the neighborhood is fairly small and the main attractions are walkable. Here's a suggested walking tour of Summit-University.