Welcome to the West End

A look back at the history of this current hub.
A shot of St. Louis Park’s West End circa 1960.

This photo, taken by the tax assessor in 1960, is of some long-ago building that stood at what is now around Park Place Boulevard and 16th Street. Fifty-six years doesn’t seem so long ago to those of us in the history game, but a lot has happened since then in St. Louis Park. Up in the area now known as the West End (which is actually our Northeast End), there was not much but a sand and gravel pit, and this building might have been the company headquarters.

Our fair city was cursed with particularly poor soil: On the north side, there was mostly clay. Dotted around town were the gravel pits that provided the raw materials for the concrete that built the city after World War II. That left little arable land, and most people were only able to grow the same kinds of vegetables that we grow today. (Most of those “original farmhouses” people seem to think of today were just normal houses with big gardens and chicken coops in the back.)

But the blessing of that soil is that it was good for building, and build St. Louis Park did, earlier and more aggressively than our suburban neighbors. Even the desolate area in this photo became a tennis club before the present restaurants and shops arrived, and across the street where Home Depot and Costco now stand was a huge building that housed a Honeywell plant.

Developing and redeveloping is what the Park is good at, and in this case, there was a definite improvement. Although many of our old buildings are sacrificed in the process, the Historical Society works diligently to collect images that remind of us how far we’ve come.

-Jeanne Andersen is a trustee on the board of the St. Louis Park Historical Society.