Saint Paul History
Immerse yourself in the colorful legends, interesting sites, and fascinating events that define the history of Saint Paul. Founded near historic Native American settlements as a trading and transportation center, the city rose to prominence when it was named capital of the Minnesota Territory in 1849. The Saint Paul area features 104 landmarks listed on the National Register of Historic Places, many of which offer a variety of tours, educational courses, and distinctive conference and event spaces.
Modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in Rome, the Cathedral of Saint Paul is one of the most distinctive cathedrals in the nation. Historic Fort Snelling is a preserved U.S. Army military post featuring costumed guides that portray residents of the 1820’s. Up and down Summit Avenue, beautifully restored Victorian mansions offer glimpses into turn-of-the-century life in Saint Paul – a few are even said to be haunted.
Saint Paul’s history as Prohibition-era hotbed for gangsters, gals and whiskey runners is well known. The city became a haven for notorious names like John Dillinger, Babyface Nelson, Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, and the Barker gang, whose activities extended to robbing banks, holding up mail trucks and trains, and kidnapping hostages for ransom. Saint Paul celebrates this storied past by offering tours of sites where the gangsters once lived as they planned and executed the most notorious crimes perpetrated in the upper Midwest. Gangster tours highlight the sites of nightclubs, kidnappings and gun battles associated with the lawlessness of the 1930’s. The most famous, of course, are the Wabasha Caves, actual caves that were transformed into an underground speakeasy known as the “Castle Royal.”