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Forty Acres is the northern-most neighborhood in West St. Paul, a square notch that sticks above the usual city boundary of Annapolis Street, yet is still part of West St. Paul. How did this odd square come to be?
Where Is Forty Acres?
Located at the very northern boundary of West St. Paul and St. Paul, Forty Acres is a neighborhood bounded by Annapolis on the south, Charlton on the West, Bidwell on the east, and halfway between Curtice and Sidney Streets on the north.
Why Is Forty Acres?
The creation of Forty Acres goes back to 1874, predating the current City of West St. Paul. At the time, West St. Paul Township and Dakota County extended all the way north to the Mississippi River, encompassing all of the West Side. But St. Paul and Ramsey County wanted to annex the West Side. Successful annexation would push the boundary south to Annapolis Street.
But that created a problem.
The superintendent of schools for Dakota County, Philip Crowley, lived north of Annapolis and would now be living in Ramsey County. So the boundary was redrawn to jog north and retain Crowley’s house at 763 Dodd Road in Dakota County.
Free passage over St. Paul’s Wabasha Street Bridge, which previously required a toll, sweetened the deal and both Ramsey County and Dakota County residents voted to approve the annexation. West St. Paul Township residents approved the measure 374 to 6. The West Side became part of St. Paul and Forty Acres was created.
Philip Crowley and West St. Paul
Philip Crowley is responsible for more of West St. Paul’s history than just Forty Acres. He served as the first teacher at Somerset School, clerk of West St. Paul Township, and council member of South St. Paul when it included West St. Paul. In 1889, Crowley led a movement to break away from South St. Paul and create the current West St. Paul. Crowley was appointed the first mayor of West St. Paul and served from 1889 until his resignation in 1891.
Crowley Circle was named after Crowley in 2014.
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