Ramsey County History Magazine: Volume 45-3 Fall 2010

Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.

Volume 45

Volume 45, Number 3: Fall 2010

“It Was Like Living in a Small Town”
Three St. Paul Neighborhoods That Worked: Dayton’s Bluff, Payne Avenue, and Arcade Street in the 1940s and ‘50s 

Author: Steven C. Trimble

The three neighborhoods that abutted the industrial complex on St. Paul’s East Side developed as the city expanded outward from its downtown. At first these neighborhoods had a mixture of prosperous families, a strong presence of middle-class residents, and a large number of working-class households. Immigrant groups, whose composition changed over time, were also a part of each community. The people in these neighborhoods started a variety of churches and institutions to serve their special needs. The residents of all three faced hard times during the 1930s, but the job base was expanding even in those days. During World War II and the decade after, good jobs became plentiful and the neighborhoods became predominately blue-collar enclaves. The largest employers were 3M, Hamm’s Brewery, and Seeger/Whirlpool, and the creation of labor unions at the plants of these companies was an important part of the story. There were also many smaller sources of employment. During the war, a majority of the companies shifted to the production of goods for the military and many women joined the workforce. People strongly supported recycling campaigns and put up with shortages and rationing. Schools also joined in the effort with scrap and paper drives. The 1950s brought changes as the housing aged, people moved away, and the small businesses suffered from the competition of chain stores.
PDF of Trimble article

Once There Was a Street Called Decatur

Author: Paul D. Nelson
This is the story if a small street, Decatur, which was perched on the western edge of Swede Hollow in the East Side of St. Paul. It had been laid out in the 1850s, but the first buildings did not go up until the early 1880s during the city’s population boom. The article is an attempt to recreate the streetscape, which was destroyed in the 1930s so that a new extension of Payne Avenue could be completed. The article also reports as much as possible about the people who lived on Decatur Street. The 1895 state census showed nineteen households, many of which took in boarders, and a total of 142 people. A majority of these residents were immigrants and many of the men were railroad workers or general laborers and there were also many tradesmen, such as butchers, teamsters, and carpenters. Widows and unmarried women were often domestics, seamstresses or worked in laundries. Because the city took photographs of the houses on Decatur Street that were torn down, there is a good visual record of the street. The article includes an interesting sidebar drawn from the reminiscences of Ralph Yekaldo who about Decatur Street and the surrounding area.
PDF of Nelson article