Columbia Heights, like Fridley, Hilltop and Spring Lake Park, was at one time a part of Manomin County. It was organized in 1857. In 1879 the township was changed to Fridley by an act of the State Legislature. (Please see the History of Fridley for more information on Manomin County.)
In its early years Columbia Heights was grassland and rolling hills, with dairy farming being the main occupation of its residents. The first settlement was around a steel roller mill in what was later called City Park.
In 1888, “The Minneapolis Improvement Company NE” was organized and it platted an area known as the Annex Plat. It was filed April 18, 1893. An ad appeared in the Anoka Union, October 9, 1895, asking for people to come to the area and to establish (before Dec. 1, 1895) a grocery store, drugstore, dry goods, shoe store, and meat market. “All must be first class and the best four corners in the area are being saved for such businesses.”
In 1898 a petition was executed by Alfred D. Arundel and 31 others. On June 29, 1898 an unanimous vote was made to incorporate. The first president of the Columbia Heights Council in 1898 was Milton C. Ailes and village recorder was C.H. Wadsworth. The early growth of Columbia Heights was slow but by 1930 it was advancing upward quickly.
In July of 1921 a charter established a council manager form of government, and Columbia Heights became a City 4th class.
The first city election was held Aug. 2, 1921, and the results were as follows: Mayor, William C. Gauvilte; Councilmen, Geo. Burgoyne, Matt Ledwine, J.T. Lynch, W.H. Amodon, and E.N. Baker.
The name “Columbia Heights” was chosen in a contest. The winner received $50. The name was selected because the village was located “on the heights” and resembled a town in New York called Columbia Heights.
Farms were operated inside the present city limits until the 1940’s.
The first school was built in 1895 and named Columbia. Four rooms were added in 1911. Another 4 rooms were added in later. The high School was built in 1926 on 41st and Jackson, now the Columbia Heights Jr. High. The new Senior High was built in 1961 and is now District #13.
The first church, Salem Methodist, was founded before 1900. The services were in Norwegian. In 1903, Our Norwegian Lutheran was formed, now called First Lutheran. The Church of Immaculate Conception was the first Catholic church and it was built in 1925.
The Columbia Heights Volunteer Fire Dept. was organized in 1907.
Today Columbia Heights is primarily a residential area, but still has a considerable amount of industry.
It still has the council-manager form of government that it had in 1921 when it incorporated and became a village.
The History of Columbia Heights & Hilltop – coming soon!
Columbia Heights: Bootstrap Town, A Social History by Irene Parson (available in the ACHS Reading Room)
The History of Columbia Heights & Hilltop
Newspapers on Microfilm:
Columbia Heights Focus, Aug. 6, 1984-Apr. 14, 1986; Jun. 15, 1988-Jul. 24, 1991
Columbia Heights Pioneer, Jan. 5, 1939-Nov. 23, 1939
Columbia Heights Record, Dec. 8, 1939-Dec. 27, 1967