People & Times

3M & Saint Paul’s East Side

Industry and Business

3M’s location by the railroad tracks was bounded on the west and south by the commercial streets of Arcade and East Seventh. It was centered within a thriving urban community that mixed industry with the residential neighborhoods of Dayton's Bluff, Payne-Phalen, and Swede Hollow. Its industrial neighbors included Seeger Refrigerator Company; Northern Malleable Iron; Herzog Iron Works; several dairies; Paper Calmenson & Company Steel and Iron and Saint Paul Harvester Works. Several of these properties were eventually taken over by 3M as the company expanded. These industries were served by the railroads, while the workers in these industries traveled by streetcar and later by bus along Arcade Street and East Seventh Street. Many local employees lived close enough to walk to work. Business and commercial establishments were located along Arcade, East Seventh, and East Minnehaha. Among them were banks, automobile dealers, auto service stations, a funeral parlor, restaurants, lunch counters, drugstores, and taverns that catered to local residents and workers in nearby industries.

Living on the East Side, 1920s - 1960s

East Side neighborhoods, including Dayton's Bluff, Payne-Phalen, and Swede Hollow, had long been the home of aspiring immigrant communities. These neighborhoods and the two nearby high schools, Johnson and Harding, were ready sources of potential 3Mers. One could get a job in the 3M abrasives, adhesives, or tape factories. Many did, learned on the job, shifted to other positions, and advanced. To recruit trained office workers, 3M offered part-time positions to young women in high school business programs. Part-time positions were given to young men in trades training programs.

Encouraging Local Engagement

Saint Paul’s East Side had many churches of various denominations, often affiliated with ethnic groups. 3M, as a matter of company policy, urged its employees to participate in religious activities. 3M also encouraged employees to be good citizens, exercise their right to vote, be aware of politics, and contact their elected officials.

Leisure and Recreation

The immediate neighborhood had opportunities for leisure activities including several movie theaters—the Roxy on East Minnehaha, the Arcade, and the Payne. 3M itself was an important source of leisure and recreational activities. Many of the employees were members of the 3M Club, which sponsored a wide variety of sports teams and hobby clubs for both men and women. The teams played internally and in the Commercial League with other Saint Paul companies. Socializing was also encouraged within departments, from congratulatory parties for marriages, babies, and retirements, to large Christmas dinners at local restaurants and country clubs.