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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.
Residential development moved westward through the neighborhood as Polish, Scandinavian, German, and Irish immigrants took blue-collar jobs in the area. They built modest wood frame and brick houses on small lots in the neighborhood. Urban renewal has wiped out many of these homes, but working-class Victorian homes from the 1880s are extant, some adorned with arched window and door openings, brick window hoods, and frilly intact open porches.
Commercial buildings lined University Avenue as street cars along the corridor were able to efficiently transport workers to employers. The line also became the first intercity street car line, connecting Minneapolis with Saint Paul in 1890.
Today many view Frogtown as a new enclave for Vietnamese and now Hmong immigrants, who, in Saint Paul, comprise the largest urban contingent in the United States. Amenities include a full-service bank, gas station, community medical clinic, family services organizations, two parks, several Asian supermarkets, a traditional butcher shop, several convenience stores, the historic No.18 Fire Station and the large Rondo library and community center.
A profusion of immigrant-owned businesses line University Avenue, offering clothing, shoes, jewelry, household items, entertainment media (DVDs, CDs, video games) and groceries. Immigrants from Africa operate several Halal meat markets in the area, which also offer traditional African breads, spices and foodstuffs. Mexican-American immigrants operate small traditional Mexican carnicerías. The avenue is dotted with restaurants serving Cambodian, Thai, Laotian, Hmong, Vietnamese, Chinese-American and Mexican cuisine, some of it very authentic. A notable local barbecue sells Southern-style barbecued pork ribs, beef ribs and chicken at their location near the northwest corner of University Avenue and Dale Street.
During the summer and fall months, a Hmong-American farmer's market operates in the Unidale Mall parking lot at the intersection of University Avenue and Kent Street, with vendors offering a wide selection of fresh produce including many exotic Asian herbs and vegetables, some of which are not widely known in the United States. The selection offered includes an unusually large variety of eggplants, peppers, squashes, edible vines and leafy vegetables. There are no scales at the market, as produce is sold by volume or quantity, rather than by weight.
St. Paul Public Schools serves Frogtown. Some residents are zoned to Jackson Elementary, while some are zoned to Galtier Elementary. Some residents are zoned to Ramsey Middle, and some are zoned to Washington Middle. Some residents are zoned to Central High School, and some are zoned to Como Park High School.