Irvine Park, serving Saint Paulians for over 150 years.

All historic photography courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, MN

History of the Park


Pioneer land developer John Irvine established the Upper Landing for steamboats where Chestnut Street meets the Mississippi River. In 1849 he deeded this square to the village of Saint Paul as a public park.


Its earliest use as public grazing land eventually gave way to a more formal urban space under pressure from prominent residents of the area, headed by merchant Joseph Forepaugh.


Officially named Irvine Park in 1872, it was soon graded by ox teams and landscaped with walks and flower beds. Park furniture and a gazebo was added, and in 1881 an ornate fountain was installed.


Saint Paul’s only remaining frontier neighborhood, the Irvine Park Historic District, was built in the area overlooking the Upper Landing on the Mississippi River. Among the district’s historic structures are eight homes built before 1853, including the city’s oldest surviving building.


As the surrounding area began to deteriorate in the twentieth century, so did Irvine Park. In 1927 the original fountain was removed, and the metal scrapped.


In conjunction with the city of Saint Paul’s redevelopment plans for the historic district in the 1970’s, a new fountain, replicating the original, was cast and installed. The bronze leaves near the top of the fountain are a gift from the Historic Irvine Park Association.

From 1870 to 1890 the district saw not only the development of the park but the construction of homes in many styles.

As early at the 1860s Irvine Park was a community gathering space

Watch the Twin Cities PBS original: Set In Stone: Exploring St. Paul’s Oldest Neighborhood


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Historic Irvine Park

Michael Boeckmann Photography at

All historic photography courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, MN