Swede Hollow


Neighborhoods: East Side neighborhoods of Dayton’s Bluff and Railroad Island

Amount Needed: $1.2 M

Project Partners: Lower Phalen Creek Project, Capitol Region Watershed District Payne-Phalen Community Council Dayton’s Bluff Community CouncilFriends of Swede Hollow, City of Saint Paul Parks and Recreation


The Story of Swede Hollow Park

The story of Swede Hollow Park is the story of St. Paul itself. It is a critical natural habitat for endangered species like the native Rusty Patched Bumble Bee and an important migratory flyway. Archeological items have been found in the park indicating that the site had served as a village site for Dakota people. In the 1860s the area became an immigrant enclave for Swedes, Irish, Poles, Italians and Mexicans until the City forced out its residents and burned down the housing stock in 1956.

Every day you can meet Twin Cities residents from all walks of life who grew up in the Hollow. Their stories are captivating. The powerful historic fiction book Swede Hollow by Ola Larsmo (2016) took Europe by storm, translated into multiple languages and turned a stage play in both Swedish and English.

In 2019 the Swede Hollow Master Plan was completed and work has begun. The plan’s focus includes improving park access, increasing visibility and sense of security, natural resource management, options to restore stream flow to Phalen Creek, and historical and cultural interpretation. Planning was funded by major grants from the McNeely and Bush Foundations with major support from Lower Phalen Creek Project. The implementation team is led by Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, Capitol Region Watershed District, Friends of Swede Hollow Park, Lower Phalen Creek Project, McNeely Foundation, Payne-Phalen Community Council, Dayton’s Bluff Community Council, and The Saint Paul Parks Conservancy.

Project updates:

Cultural, interpretive and wayfinding signs were installed July 2022 (Learn more and see the signs here.)

Water feasibility study is underway to improve flow to the creek.

The community Design Advisory Committee will meet in Fall 2022 to vision a concept plan for the Upper Park (bluff) improvements and a final design for the Woodland Garden enhancement.


Project Area