West St. Paul and Forty Acres signs

What Is Forty Acres?

Thanks to Cherokee Service for their support.

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.

West St. Paul street map with inset view of Forty Acres neighborhood.
An inset view of the Forty Acres neighborhood taken from the city street map.

The neighborhood is bisected diagonally by Dodd Road and includes Kennedy Park and several local businesses such as El Cubano’s, Cherokee Service, and Marty’s Bar.

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.

Welcome to West St. Paul sign with house
Welcome to West St. Paul sign with “Historic 40 Acres” neighborhood sign, with Crowley house to the right.

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.


Forty Acres historic marker
Forty Acres historic marker located in Kennedy Park: “In 1874 this unique part of West St. Paul was created to allow Phillip Crowley’s house at 763 Dodd Road to Remain within Dakota County. He was superintendent of Dakota County Schools and later, in 1889, served as West St. Paul’s first mayor. (Mendota-West St. Paul’s Chapter Dakota County Historical Society, 1989)”

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  1. What a quirky bit of geography—and an old-fashioned land-grab! It’s a good thing Mr. Crowley didn’t live in Wisconsin, that would create an even weirder city boundary! 😉

  2. Here’s another bit of investigative journalism for you – we live right next to Heritage, and most official databases, including federal and state ones, seem to think we live in SAINT PAUL. If we lived in 40 Acres, I might be able to give it a pass given the history, but we’re south of that! we’re between Butler and Bernard!

    Even when the recent phone alert came through for curfews, we got the notification for RAMSEY county. Nothing against our neighbors to the immediate north, but i live in WEST SAINT PAUL, dangit!

    1. Yep, not sure why that is, but West St. Paul is often officially lumped in with St. Paul. Xcel Energy, for example, notes my address as St. Paul, even when I correct them. Something tells me this would be a long and fruitless investigation.

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