DOWNTOWN ST. LOUIS PARK Bob Reiss, from the Re-Echo, Winter 2002
With the building of the Park Commons development, St Louis
Park will finally have a true downtown. Excelsior Boulevard
will become the area they think about when they refer to St.
Louis Park. The street has gone through many changes. Lilac
Way has come and gone and Miracle Mile has provided
convenient shopping. With the addition of this "recognized
community focal point," with its offices, retail shops,
restaurants, townhouses and condominiums. Park Commons will
be an area where people can live, dine, work, shop and
Excelsior Boulevard today is what T. B. Walker envisioned
for St. Louis Park, but his "main" street was to be Walker
Street, obviously named after him. It ran (and still does)
from the Oak Hill neighborhood to the Center neighborhood
(now renamed Elmwood) and includes the St. Louis Railroad
park from which St. Louis Park got its name. Within walking
distance of this street were all the necessities people
needed. They could work at the Monitor Drill or other
manufacturing plants. There was a bank, hardware and grocery
store, hotels, churches, schools, a barber shop and best of
all, transportation. The streetcar line ended at Walker
Street and provided transportation through Uptown to
downtown Minneapolis. The 1892 advertisement by the
Minneapolis Land and Improvement Co- provides an insight
into what was envisioned for St Louis Park. What was not
envisioned for the Park was first the depression of 1893 and
then the depression of 1930. The Monitor Drill burned down
and production was moved to the Hopkins plant. Tornadoes
wiped out homes and manufacturing plants. All of this
limited much expansion.
During the time T. B. Walker was making his plans in St.
Louis Park, Excelsior Boulevard was a farm service road that
developed into a secondary route into Minneapolis. In 1945,
the soldiers of WW II started returning, getting married and
needed a place to live. Automobiles and the building of
Highways 7 and 100 by the WPA, made living in the suburbs
feasible. The farms of Brookside were ideal home locations.
When St. Louis Park population exploded, Excelsior Boulevard
started on its path toward being the Park's "main" street.
Now only a few people even know where Walker Street is.
This information comes from a variety of sources: newspapers, books, yearbooks, phone directories, interviews, etc. Given the varied sources, we cannot guarantee that all of this information is correct, and welcome any additions and corrections. Please contact us with your contributions and comments.