Saint Paul (; abbreviated St. Paul) is the capital and second-most populous city of the U.S. state of Minnesota. As of 2012, the city's estimated population was 290,770. Saint Paul is the county seat of Ramsey County, the smallest and most densely populated county in Minnesota. The city lies mostly on the east bank of the Mississippi River in the area surrounding its point of confluence with the Minnesota River, and adjoins Minneapolis, the state's largest city. Known as the "Twin Cities," the two form the core of Minneapolis–Saint Paul, the 16th-largest metropolitan area in the United States, with about 3.45 million residents.
Founded near historic Native American settlements as a trading and transportation center, the city rose to prominence when it was named the capital of the Minnesota Territory in 1849. Though Minneapolis is better-known nationally, Saint Paul contains the state government and other important institutions. Regionally, the city is known for the Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild, and for the Science Museum of Minnesota. As a business hub of the Upper Midwest, it is the headquarters of companies such as Ecolab. Saint Paul, along with its Twin City, Minneapolis, is known for its high literacy rate. It was the only city in the United States with a population of 250,000 or more to see an increase in circulation of Sunday newspapers in 2007.
The settlement originally began at present-day Lambert's Landing, but was known as Pig's Eye after Pierre "Pig's Eye" Parrant established a popular tavern there. When Fr. Lucien Galtier, the first Catholic pastor of the region, established the Log Chapel of Saint Paul (shortly thereafter to become the first location of the Cathedral of Saint Paul), he made it known that the settlement was now to be called by that name, as "Saint Paul as applied to a town or city was well appropriated, this monosyllable is short, sounds good, it is understood by all Christian denominations...".
Burial mounds in present-day Indian Mounds Park suggest that the area was originally inhabited by the Hopewell Native Americans about two thousand years ago. From the early 17th century until 1837, the Mdewakanton Dakota, a tribe of the Sioux, lived near the mounds after fleeing their ancestral home of Mille Lacs Lake from advancing Ojibwe. They called the area I-mni-za ska dan ("little white rock") for its exposed white sandstone cliffs.
Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, a U.S. Army officer named Zebulon Pike negotiated approximately of land from the local Dakota tribes in 1805 in order to establish a fort. The negotiated territory was located on both banks of the Mississippi River, starting from Saint Anthony Falls in present-day Minneapolis, to its confluence with the Saint Croix River. Fort Snelling was built on the territory in 1819 at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, which formed a natural barrier to both Native American nations. The 1837 Treaty with the Sioux ceded all local tribal land east of the Mississippi to the U.S. Government. Taoyateduta (Chief Little Crow V) moved his band at Kaposia across the river to the south. Fur traders, explorers, and missionaries came to the area for the fort's protection. Many of the settlers were French-Canadians who lived nearby. However, as a whiskey trade flourished, military officers banned settlers from the fort-controlled lands. Pierre "Pig's Eye" Parrant, a retired fur trader-turned-bootlegger who particularly irritated officials, set up his tavern, the Pig's Eye, near present-day Lambert's Landing. By the early 1840s, the community had become important as a trading center and a destination for settlers heading west. Locals called the area Pig's Eye (French: L'Oeil du Cochon) or Pig's Eye Landing after Parrant's popular tavern.
That year, more than 1,000 steamboats were in service at Saint Paul, making the city a gateway for settlers to the Minnesota frontier or Dakota Territory. Natural geography was a primary reason that the city became a landing. The area was the last accessible point to unload boats coming upriver due to the Mississippi River Valley's stone bluffs. During this period, Saint Paul was called "The Last City of the East." Industrialist James J. Hill constructed and expanded his network of railways into the Great Northern Railway and Northern Pacific Railway, which were headquartered in Saint Paul. Today they are collectively part of the BNSF Railway.
On August 20, 1904, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes damaged hundreds of downtown buildings, causing USD $1.78 million ($ million present-day) in damages to the city and ripping spans from the High Bridge. In the 1960s, during urban renewal, Saint Paul razed western neighborhoods close to downtown. The city also contended with the creation of the interstate freeway system in a fully built landscape. From 1959 to 1961, the western Rondo neighborhood was demolished by the construction of Interstate 94, which brought attention to racial segregation and unequal housing in northern cities. The annual Rondo Days celebration commemorates the African American community.
Downtown had short skyscraper-building booms beginning in the 1970s. The tallest buildings, such as Galtier Plaza (Jackson and Sibley Towers), The Pointe of Saint Paul condominiums, and the city's tallest building, Wells Fargo Place (formerly Minnesota World Trade Center), were constructed in the late 1980s. In the 1990s and 2000s, the tradition of bringing new immigrant groups to the city continued. As of 2004, nearly 10% of the city's population were recent Hmong immigrants from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar. Saint Paul is the location of the Hmong Archives.