Towns on the Minnesota frontier grew into bustling, raucous cities by the end of the 1850s. Far more than today, urban life was public life, lived on the street. The worlds of politics, business, entertainment, and religion merged and mingled. But people in these communities of strangers also valued family ties, intimacy, and private life.
"In one particular, our town [St. Paul] excels any other of its size we ever knew; and that is, in excitement. . . . This is the charm that attaches so many to our town. It is exactly that thing of which all your little old towns of the east and south are destitute. No person can live for a year, in the excitement of our town, and afterward be content with the quiet method, dullness, stillness, and stupidity of another place. Our blood is red."
James M. Goodhue, Minnesota Pioneer, June 10, 1852