Frogtown / Rondo History and the Present

Frogtown

Founded in 1970, the Frogtown Neighborhood Association (District 7) was originally named, and is still legally, the Thomas-Dale District 7 Planning Council.

Frogtown is a neighborhood in Saint Paul in the U.S. state of Minnesota. Built around University Avenue, the Thomas-Dale neighborhood is colloquially known as Frogtown (German: Froschburg). Historically, Frogtown was a subsection of the current Thomas-Dale neighborhood. It is bordered by University Avenue on the south, the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks to the north, Lexington Parkway on the west and Rice Street on the east

The neighborhood was first settled 1860–1880 as the downtown area outgrew its borders. Workers on the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, now BNSF Railway, which was built just to the north of the neighborhood sought housing nearby. Minnesota’s first successful locomotive run occurred on these tracks in 1882. Shortly thereafter the Jackson Street Railroad Shops were built just northeast of Frogtown. The Jackson Street Shops were then joined by other railroad related industries in the area including the Saint Paul Foundry, built near Como and Western Avenues, providing additional employment opportunities for residents.

Rondo

Rondo has a deep history that has been embedded into the heart of St. Paul and Hwy 94. Most of the original Rondo Avenue and much of the historic Rondo neighborhood were destroyed when Interstate 94 was built. The street was named after an early settler, Joseph Rondeau. The neighborhoods north and south of Rondo Avenue, extending south into today’s Summit-University neighborhood and north to University Avenue, were always diverse. In addition to many businesses and local organizations, residents were proud homeowners. Because it was often written into home deeds that owners could not sell to African Americans, the Rondo neighborhood proved that African Americans like all others, with pride in their neighborhoods, could better themselves and their surroundings by pride in ownership and community. By the 1950s about 85 percent of Saint Paul’s African-American population lived in the neighborhoods. The better-off residents lived in the western part of the community. The freeway location chosen in 1956 along Saint Anthony Avenue took out a large part Rondo. More than 600 African American families lost their homes. Numerous businesses and institutions were also lost. Many of the residents have soldiered on to keep the memories of the pride in this important community alive. While the construction of I-94 radically changed the landscape of the neighborhood, the community of Rondo still exists and its persistence and growth are celebrated through events like Rondo Days and the Jazz Festival.

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