Your boss just came in and told you that there was an opportunity in the St. Paul office. You are looking for a new job, and saw an interesting opening at a St. Paul firm. Or you are looking for a new city to live, stuck a pin in a map and it landed on St. Paul. Whatever your reasons for a relocating, or thinking about relocating to St. Paul, many newcomers know very little about the city before they arrive.
St. Paul, and Minnesota, don't experience much tourism compared to other destinations in the US. The city of St. Paul is a long way from anywhere else, and it doesn't have much about it that's famous or nationally recognized. Well, Minnesota is the home of Spam. And Garrison Keillor, the creator of radio variety show A Prairie Home Companion, lives in and broadcasts the show from St. Paul.
Aside from processed meat products and Midwestern variety radio shows, many Americans don't know much about Minnesota, except for the stereotypes perpetuated in movies like Fargo. There are plenty of people who say Yaah? instead of Yes?, lots of traditional Midwestern and Lutheran charm and plenty of snow, but there's much more to St. Paul than that.
So what is St. Paul like? What is it like to live in St. Paul?
Every city is a product of its history, geography, and residents. The city of St. Paul began as a military and trading settlement, the most northerly place on the Mississippi River accessible by steamboat. In the early nineteenth century, a one eyed, rogue whiskey distiller and bootlegger named Pierre Parant was forced out of the main settlement, and set up residence, and a tavern, in what is now downtown St. Paul. Traders and customers of Parant's establishment also settled in the area which became known as Pig's Eye - Parant's nickname.
The town of Pig's Eye gradually became a city, with the steamboats, and later the railroad, bringing trade and new arrivals from Scandinavia, Ireland and Eastern Europe. In 1841, a chapel to St. Paul was built overlooking the Mississippi, and the city was officially renamed St. Paul. Eight years later, St. Paul became the capital of the new state of Minnesota.
St. Paul and adjoining Minneapolis form the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, the largest urban area in the Midwest after Chicago and Detroit. Downtown St. Paul is on the east bank of the Mississippi River, and the city of St. Paul is a rough rectangle shape spreading east-west around downtown St. Paul. In comparison to Minneapolis' orderly grid system, St. Paul's streets are twisting and almost all named rather than numbered, making navigation much less simple.
About 250,000 people live in St. Paul, and the Twin Cities metropolitan area totals around 3.2 million people. Part of the population growth has been from migration within the US including many Native Americans, and part is immigration from overseas. There are large populations from Ireland, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, Somalia, Mexico and Latin America.
The oldest existing housing in St. Paul was built around 1860. Large parts of the city of St. Paul was developed around the turn of the 20th century and much of the empty space was mostly filled in by the 1950s, with postwar housing built mostly in less desirable neighborhoods in the east, and Eastside (on a compass, actually south of downtown) St. Paul. Very little modern housing is available in the city - If you want something contemporary in St. Paul the best place to look is in Lowertown, where old warehouses are being refurbished into modern apartments.
St. Paul's neighborhoods are each very distinct, and the character of the city changes markedly between neighborhoods.
The suburbs surrounding St. Paul offer plenty of modern homes in every price range. The commute into St. Paul is about average for a large city, and predictably, it can get very congested on the major freeways, I-35E, I-94 and I-494 which bring commuters into St. Paul from the suburbs.
St. Paul is relatively quiet, and calm for a city its size. Of course there is crime in St. Paul, as in every metropolitan area, but most violent crimes are concentrated in specific areas of St. Paul, mostly in the the eastern neighborhoods.
"Quiet" is a word often used to describe St. Paul. Compared to Minneapolis, St. Paul is much quieter and has less choice for nightlife, culture and entertainment. It's far from being dead though, and in recent years has seen significant growth with new entertainment venues, businesses and cultural organizations opening in, or moving to, St. Paul.