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125 Things You Might Not Have Known About St. Louis Park: Part I

The city is celebrating its 125th birthday on Sunday.

Editor's Note: As St. Louis Park gets ready to on Sunday, we're presenting 125 unique tidbits of local history. We'll run 25 of these per day from now through Sunday.

  1. St. Louis Park’s first mayor was Joseph Hamilton, a farmer who came to the area from Maine in 1855. He established St. Louis Park’s first general store in 1886. He also owned the first bathtub in the Park. It was installed in 1899 and made of zinc.
  2. The first marriage in the Park was between Joseph Hamilton’s son, Chesley, to Rebecca Hunter on October 17, 1888, in Union Church. 
  3. St. Louis Park incorporated as a village in November 1886. Its population was 350. 
  4. St. Louis Park’s highest official population was 48,883 in 1970, although the number topped 50,000 in the 1970s. The current population, per the 2010 census, is 45,250.
  5. boys basketball team won the 1962 state tournament, the only title for the team to date. The girls basketball team won state in 1986 and 1990.
  6. New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Thomas Friedman was born in St. Louis Park and graduated from St. Louis Park High School in 1971.
  7. The first ordinances of the new village were passed in 1887. Among other things, they outlawed: “lurking, lying in wait to pilfer, sweeping empty railroad cars, noise, riot, disturbance, improper diversion, open or notorious drunkenness or intoxication, and appear[ing] in a state of nudity."
  8. Wolfe Lake was proposed to be used as a city swimming lake in the 1960s, but high levels of bacteria prevented it from being developed.
  9. At one time or another, gas stations have been located at 41 different addresses on Excelsior Boulevard, once known as “gasoline alley.” Many factors have led to the number reduced to five today. 
  10. began in 1996. It is the only Orthodox Jewish girls high school in the Twin Cities.
  11. St. Louis Park’s first school was the one-room Pratt Schoolhouse, opened in 1859. It was located at Excelsior Boulevard and Wooddale Avenue, then called Pleasant Avenue.
  12. The opened in 1982.
  13. Orioles hockey player Erik Rasmussen won the state's Mr. Hockey Award in 1995. He was drafted in the first round of the NHL Draft a year later.
  14. The Westwood Hills Neighborhood was formerly a 27-hole golf course built in 1928 by James A. McNulty.
  15. St. Louis Park has had 37 mayors. The current mayor is Jeff Jacobs, who has been in office since 1999.
  16. Well known University of Minnesota track coach Roy Griak (who today has a ) got his start at St. Louis Park High School.
  17. St. Louis Park native Kenneth Bartholomew won 14 national speed skating titles and a silver medal in the 500-meter race at the 1948 Winter Olympics in San Moritz, Switzerland.  He is a member of the U.S. Speed Skating and Minnesota Sports Halls of Fame. 
  18. is part of an area that was annexed from Minnetonka in 1954.
  19. Despite the fact that funds to build the were voted down by a 2-to-1 margin in a referendum in 1969, the City Council voted in March 1970 to spend $1.7 million on the project. The Rec Center opened in 1972.
  20. The precursor to the Rec Center was a small community center on Lake Street, operated out of a building sold to the city by in 1950. It was used until 1969. 
  21. It took three votes for the village of St. Louis Park to become a city. Personal politics and squabbles about power doomed the first two attempts. The third was greatly aided by the newly-formed League of Women Voters. The City Charter was approved in late 1954 and the village officially became a city in January 1955.
  22. Bob Stein, who graduated from St. Louis Park High School in 1965, played for the victorious Kansas City Chiefs in the 1970 Super Bowl against the Vikings. At age 21, he was the youngest player to ever play in the Super Bowl.
  23. The , which has one of the world's most significant collections of vintage radio and television equipment, is located in St. Louis Park.
  24. was named for S. Earl Ainsworth, a village assessor and Hennepin County Commissioner.
  25. The St. Louis Park boys alpine skiing team won a state title in 1955.

Special thanks to the St. Louis Park Historical Society and Patch reader John Froom for helping to compile this list.

strangedub October 13, 2011 at 02:02 AM
Some very interesting items there... Good research.
Heather G October 13, 2011 at 09:35 PM
Love it ... looking forward to the next installment!

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