Saint Paul is the capital and second-most populous city of the U.S. state of Minnesota. The city's population at the 2010 census was 285,068. 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", these two cities form the core of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, the 16th-largest metropolitan area in the United States, with about 3.3 million residents.
Saint Paul's Department of Planning and Economic Development divides Saint Paul into seventeen Planning Districts, created in 1979 to allow neighborhoods to participate in governance and utilize Community Development Block Grants. With a funding agreement directly from the city, the councils share a pool of funds. The councils have significant land-use control, a voice in guiding development, and they organize residents. The boundaries are adjusted depending on population changes; as such, they sometimes overlap established neighborhoods.
The Minneapolis-Saint Paul-Bloomington area employs 1,570,700 people in the private sector as of July 2008, 82.43 percent of which work in private service providing-related jobs. Major corporations headquartered in Saint Paul include Ecolab, a chemical and cleaning product company which was named in 2008 by the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal as the eighth best place to work in the Twin Cites for companies with 1,000 full-time Minnesota employees, Securian Financial Group Inc. and Gander Mountain, a retailer of sporting goods which operates 115 stores in 23 states.The 3M Company is often cited as one of Saint Paul's companies, though it is located in adjacent Maplewood, Minnesota. 3M employs 16,000 people throughout Minnesota. St. Jude Medical, a manufacturer of medical devices, is directly across the municipal border of Saint Paul in Little Canada, though the company's address is listed in Saint Paul. The city was home to the Ford Motor Company's Twin Cities Assembly Plant, which opened in 1924 and closed at the end of 2011. The site is located in Highland Park on the Mississippi River adjacent to Lock And Dam No. 1, Mississippi River which generates hydroelectric power.
Saint Paul is second in the United States in the number of higher education institutions per capita. Higher education institutions that call Saint Paul home include three public and eight private colleges and universities and five post-secondary institutions. Well-known colleges and universities include the Saint Catherine University, Concordia University, Hamline University, Macalester College, and the University Of St. Thomas. Metropolitan State University, Northwestern College and Saint Paul College, which focus on non-traditional students, are based in Saint Paul, as well as two law schools, William Mitchell College of Law and Hamline University School of Law.
The Saint Paul Public Schools district is the state's second largest school district and serves approximately 42,000 students. The district is extremely diverse with students from families speaking 70 different languages, although only four languages are used for most school communication: English, Spanish, Hmong, and Somali. The district runs 82 different schools, including 52 elementary schools, twelve middle schools, seven high schools, ten alternative schools, and one special education school, employing over 6,500 teachers and staff. The school district also oversees community education programs for pre-K and adult learners, including Early Childhood Family Education, GED Diploma, language programs, and various learning opportunities for community members of all ages. In 2006, Saint Paul Public Schools celebrated its 150th anniversary. Some students attend public schools in other school districts chosen by their families under Minnesota's open enrollment statute. A variety of K-12 private, parochial, and public charter schools are also represented in the city. In 1992, Saint Paul became the first city in the US to sponsor and open a charter school, now found in most states across the nation. Saint Paul is currently home to 21 charter schools as well as 38 private schools. The Saint Paul Public Library system includes a Central Library and twelve branch locations.
Residents utilize Interstate 35E running north-south and Interstate 94 running east-west. Trunk highways include U.S. Highway 52, Minnesota State Highway 280, and Minnesota State Highway 5. Saint Paul has several unique roads such as Ayd Mill Road and Shepard Road/Warner Road, which diagonally follow particular geographic features in the city. Metro Transit provides bus service and connects the city to the existing Hiawatha Line light rail via dedicated bus routes but will not have its own line, the Central Corridor along University Avenue, until 2014. Downtown Saint Paul has a five mile (8 km) enclosed skyway system over twenty-five city blocks. Biking is also gaining popularity due to paved bike lanes which connect to other bike routes throughout the metropolitan area.
The layout of city streets and roads has often drawn complaints. While he was Governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, and remarked that the streets were designed by a "drunken Irishmen". He later apologized, although people had already been complaining about the fractured grid system for more than a century by that point. Some of the city's road design is the result of the curve of the Mississippi River, hilly topography, conflicts between developers of different neighborhoods in the early city, and grand plans only half-realized. Outside of downtown, the roads are less confusing, but most roads are named, rather than numbered, increasing the difficulty for non-natives to navigate. Due to neighborhood autonomy, some roads suddenly change names without warning.
Amtrak's Empire Builder between Chicago and Seattle stops once daily in each direction at nearby Midway Station. Ridership on the train is increasing, about 6% from 2005 to over 505,000 in fiscal year 2007. Increased ridership has prompted southern Minnesota leaders to plan for an expansion of Amtrak's service in the area, including an overhaul of Saint Paul's Union Depot. Saint Paul is the site of the Pig's Eye Yard, a major freight Classification yard for Canadian Pacific Railway.As of 2003, the yard handled over 1,000 freight cars per day. Both Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe run trains through yard, though they are not classified at Pig's Eye. Burlington Northern Santa Fe operates the large Northtown Yard in Minneapolis, which handles about 600 cars per day. There are several other small yards located around the city.
Saint Paul is served by the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP), which sits on 3,400 acres (14 km2) southwest of the city on the west side of the Mississippi River between Minnesota State Highway 5, Interstate 494, Minnesota State Highway 77, and Minnesota State Highway 62. The airport serves three international, twelve domestic, seven charter, and four regional carriers and is a hub and home base for Delta Air Lines, Mesaba Airlines and Sun Country Airlines. Saint Paul is also served by the St. Paul Downtown Airport located just south of downtown, across the Mississippi River. The airport, also known as Holman Field, is a reliever airport run by the Metropolitan Airports Commission. The airport houses Minnesota's Air National Guard and is tailored to local corporate aviation. There are three runways that serve about 100 resident aircraft and a flight training school. The Holman Field Administration Building and Riverside Hangar are on the National Register of Historic Places.