History of Central City

Follow the timeline to learn about Central City, a creation by author Indy Perro

Prehistory: Ceremonial Time/Profane Time




Since migrating southwest from their traditional homes north of the great lakes, the Anskinape spent their summers in what is now The Hill neighborhood of Central City. They referred to the area as the place where the plains met the forest and water, and in the nexus of these three distinct habitats, they took advantage of diverse resources. Near the shore of Lake Windsor, the Anskinape caught fish, hunted, and harvested plants, particularly wild rice, to fill their winter stores. The warm months provided an opportunity to sew and mend clothing, build or repair tools, tan hides and dry food.

Each autumn, the weather would turn, and the Anskinape traveled over sixty miles to their winter camp in the northern forest. Before beginning their seasonal journey, they spent three days in ceremony—cleansing, purifying, giving thanks, and seeking guidance. Their fall ritual ended with a sacrifice. Once the sacrifice had been made and the people returned from sacred time to profane time, they broke camp.

Prehistory: Ceremonial Time/Profane Time

1819

Remy “Walleye” Pondere, an enterprising French Canadian, arrived with a group of trappers acting as guides for a military survey expedition. The arrival of foreigners tainted the area, and the natives began spending their summers farther north. 

Pondere founded a trading post where the Anskinape historically made their summer camp, on the hill overlooking the Shaktenasen River and Lake Windsor.

Trappers arrived by the dozens each Spring and Fall for Pondere’s Rendezvous, a celebration known as much for the opportunity to purchase supplies and sell pelts as the opportunity to swallow Walleye Spit, Pondere’s special brand of fire water. 

1819-1852:
Civilization vs Nature

1830

As traffic on the Shaktenasen expanded, the army established Fort Meeker north of the waterway in what is now Downtown. The road from Walleye’s to Fort Meeker would become Capitol Street.

1819-1852:
Civilization vs Nature

1836

The government made its first treaty with the Anskinape. The 1836 treaty ceded to the territory the land on which Central City would grow in exchange for trade and promises that settlers would remain south of Black Rock Creek.

1819-1852:
Civilization vs Nature

1837-1840


Homesteaders filed for plots of land between Walleye’s and Fort Meeker in what is today Midtown. Many of the settlers were former trappers or military families connected to the fort, and they cobbled together livelihoods from farming, trade, or services rendered to the army.1819-1852:
Civilization vs Nature

1846

The area surrounding Fort Meeker grew into a small village. Two saloons, a hotel, post-office, land-grant office, and general store rose around the crossroads that would become the intersection of Capitol Street and Stearns Avenue.

1819-1852:
Civilization vs Nature

1848

Two Benedictine Priests founded St. Catherine’s Mission. Their arrival brought the first bastion of culture to an otherwise crude and ruthless outpost of civilization.

1819-1852:
Civilization vs Nature

1852

(Future City Limits Population 98/More than 200 Government Employees)

On a fateful day in March, a hunter’s bullet missed a deer but struck a vein of copper. Although he’d been hunting in the hills north of Black Rock Creek, neither he nor those who followed cared about the 1836 treaty. A handful of prospectors saw in the rugged country an opportunity to become rich.

In the wake of the hunter’s discovery, the government completed a land survey that reported trace evidence of iron as well as copper. This led to another treaty with the Anskinape, which expanded the territory’s claim to land well beyond the future boundaries of Central City.

1852-1894: Competing Forms of Civilization - Government, Business, and Industry

1853

(Future City Limits Pop. 1,231)

The most prestigious residents of the growing center of civilization established a council and officially incorporated Central City. The original boundaries remained north of the Shaktenasen River and included the neighborhoods of Midtown, Uptown, and Downtown.

An Irishman established a sawmill along the river, and several entrepreneurs built warehouses and wharves along the lakeshore.

The mill and dock workers established the village of Eden Prairie, which, in a distinct lowering of standards, was eventually incorporated as Commerce City.

1852-1894: Competing Forms of Civilization - Government, Business, and Industry

1854

A copper miner named Stan Conroy discovered gold while watering his mules in a creek. Conroy did his best to keep his discovery a secret, but within two months, miners flooded the area.

Although copper continued to flow from the hills into the twentieth century, the gold rush would be short lived, and in the wake of the rush, most major mining operations sought iron ore.

1852-1894: Competing Forms of Civilization - Government, Business, and Industry

1855

(Future City Limits Pop. 6,982)

The territory completed construction on an improved road south, which eventually became 50th Avenue and Highway 52.

Boa Mining Company arrived and began consolidating claims. Boa Mining established The Central City Periodical Truth, the area’s first newspaper.

1852-1894: Competing Forms of Civilization - Government, Business, and Industry

1856

To compete with Boa Mining’s periodic relationship to the truth, Walter Fernberg, owner of the original general store, founded The Shaktenasen Star, which would eventually be known as The Central City Gazette.

1852-1894: Competing Forms of Civilization - Government, Business, and Industry

1857

(Future City Limits Pop. 24,571)

Gerhardt Anneke, a Bavarian immigrant, established Anneke Brewery along the Shaktenasen on the northern edge of what is now St. Patrick’s. A German village, for no explicable reason, grew around the brewery.

1852-1894: Competing Forms of Civilization - Government, Business, and Industry

1858

The city council campaigned tirelessly and forced the votes needed for the territory to claim statehood. To the delight of the city’s political faction, Central City was unsurprisingly named the capitol.

1852-1894: Competing Forms of Civilization - Government, Business, and Industry

1869

(Future City Limits Pop. 58,573)

The Midland-Central Railroad established a terminus at Central City and connected the growing settlement to the main line a few hundred miles south. The railyard became a hub for the entire north country.

The railroad workers established a tent city in what would become SOCCs.

1852-1894: Competing Forms of Civilization - Government, Business, and Industry

1872

Dale Fisk, the son of a foreman for the Boa Mining Company, borrowed money to found Central City Steel Works on the southern edge of Midtown. In the years to come, CC Steel developed Woodland Park as a company town built around a landscaped park and Fisk’s community ideals.

Although CC Steel would remain the only steel mill in the city, two foundries would begin casting metal before the end of the 19th century.

1852-1894: Competing Forms of Civilization - Government, Business, and Industry

1875

(Future City Limits Pop: 118,437)

Dalton Fitzgerald founded Fitzgerald Horseshoe Company on the southern end of the docks. Fitzgerald later became a major manufacturer of tools. Multiple tool and machine manufacturers would utilize the steel produced in Central City.

1852-1894: Competing Forms of Civilization - Government, Business, and Industry

1877

Chester Mercantile opened on Marquette in what is now Uptown. Chester Mercantile offers catalogue sales of mercantile goods shipped from Central City to general stores and homes throughout the Midwest and west.

1852-1894: Competing Forms of Civilization - Government, Business, and Industry

1882

The Italian community founded Little Italy and laid the foundation for The Church of Santa Maria, setting itself off from the Irish and the Benedictine mission of St. Catherine’s.

1852-1894: Competing Forms of Civilization - Government, Business, and Industry

1884

The rural communities that stretched around the northwestern corner of Central City, encompassing the area that would become the neighborhoods of Long Beach, The Heights, Waite Park, and The Hill, incorporated as Jefferson Township

1852-1894: Competing Forms of Civilization - Government, Business, and Industry

1890

(Future City Limits Pop: 507,894)

A land grant allowed for the establishment of Central City College of Agriculture. In 1892, a generous donation by Dale Fisk established Central City School of Mines and Metalwork. The two colleges combined in 1899 to become Central City State University.

1852-1894: Competing Forms of Civilization - Government, Business, and Industry

1894

Although the city’s population grew rapidly, the city limits remained limited to what is now the southern half of Uptown and all of Midtown and Downtown. The city council, however, had its sights set on expansion.

The area that would encompass the expanded Central City was home to a population of immigrants whose diverse intellectual, political, and entertainment needs demanded separate Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Hungarian, Irish, and Italian weekly periodicals, two German and two Polish newspapers, and seven English newspapers.

1894-1950 Development of Standards, Tradition, and Expectation

1903

(Future City Limits Pop: 803,982)

Dale Fisk built the first mansion in The Heights.

1894-1950 Development of Standards, Tradition, and Expectation

1905

Boa Mining Company built an eleven-story building Downtown, which was the tallest building in the city at that time.

1894-1950 Development of Standards, Tradition, and Expectation

1906

The city council passed a new charter to expand the city limits to include St. Patrick’s, Woodland Park, and Commerce City, collectively referred to as the “Old Neighborhoods.”

1894-1950 Development of Standards, Tradition, and Expectation

1908

Despite the preference of several prominent business owners to keep industrial areas separate, the city council annexed SOCCs, the rail yards, and The Docks.

1894-1950 Development of Standards, Tradition, and Expectation

1910

(Future City Limits Pop: 1,075,869)

Central City Cement, which made cement from the slag byproduct of the steel plant, opened.

1894-1950 Development of Standards, Tradition, and Expectation

1912

Ferguson Adgate opened Adgate Distillery.

1894-1950 Development of Standards, Tradition, and Expectation

1913

Walleye’s Village, so called because it originated as a section of plots in the marshy lowlands near the mouth of the Shaktenasen that Walleye Pondere had sold to freedmen, was incorporated into Central City as the neighborhood called Echo.

1894-1950 Development of Standards, Tradition, and Expectation

1916

An investment group that included Dale Fisk and Charles Dirby established a shipyard in the Docks.

1894-1950 Development of Standards, Tradition, and Expectation

1925

 

(Future City Limits Pop: 1,401,911)

Wallace Winston founded Winston Studios to release cartoon shorts and commercials to follow the newsreels shown before films.

1894-1950 Development of Standards, Tradition, and Expectation

1932

Central City annexed Jefferson Township, a municipal government that served the rural areas that would become The Hill, Waite Park, The Heights, and Long Beach. This act created the modern boundary of Central City.

1894-1950 Development of Standards, Tradition, and Expectation

1937

Winston Studios releases its first full length feature to great success.

1894-1950 Development of Standards, Tradition, and Expectation

1952

(Pop: 1,903,487/Metro Area Pop: 2,627,593)

Winston Studios released its first live action feature. The success of the feature allowed Winston Studios to develop multiple titles for film and television.

1950-1980: Counterculture

1975

(Pop: 1,819,648/Metro Area Pop: 2,793,641)

1950-1980: Counterculture

1990


(Pop: 1,606,559/Metro Area Pop: 2,912,578)1980-2000: Darkness/Crime

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