One of the busiest and most utilized roads in Woodbury was nothing more than a gravel thoroughfare just three decades ago. But one man’s vision, a 275-acre Christmas tree farm and five intrepid houses paved the way—literally—for a new road and a booming suburb.
Radio Drive, named for a 1950s radio station, KDWB AM630, became the gateway to an upscale development unlike anything St. Paul had seen: Evergreen. In 1975, while 3M was busy introducing Post-it notes, developer and real estate broker Dan Dolan was scoping out the city for a place to build homes for the people inventing those iconic yellow squares. He needed upscale, executive homes to show to his out-of-state 3M transplants. But that didn’t exist east of St. Paul.
“We were losing the 3M executives to Edina and other Minneapolis suburbs,” Dolan says. “I knew what they wanted: a large lot, close to schools and shopping. But at the time, we didn’t have anything like that east of St. Paul.”
A search for a Christmas tree changed everything. When Dolan and some friends ventured east to a large pine-covered farm, he saw more than just trees in the expansive forest. He saw the perfect place for this new community. Evergreen was developed in 1977, and throughout the next 15 years, Dolan would create an award-winning community filled with custom-built and unique homes. Woodbury followed suit, becoming one of the fastest growing suburbs in the Twin Cities.
“In 1980, Woodbury consisted of 10,000 residents,” says Dwight Picha, community development director for the city of Woodbury. “In 2014, that jumped to 65,000. We estimate growth and development for another 20 years before it levels out.”
With Woodbury’s steady growth, we wondered how the streets are named in new developments throughout the city. According to Picha, the naming process has changed and adapted as Woodbury has grown. “In the 1970s, most cities in Washington County had a naming system,” Picha says. “Each mile had to start with the same letter. Woodbury didn’t see that fitting with the community vision. So, developers and owners began creating common themes for each neighborhood.”
Weave your way through Evergreen and you’ll see what Picha is talking about. Donegal Drive, Glenbeigh Place and Kerry Lane all reflect a common theme: counties in Ireland. As you drive through Woodbury, you will discover a number of other themed developments, including Bailey’s Arbor, where all of the streets have tree-themed names; Summit Pointe, which features streets named after apples; Windwood and Woodlane Hills, with English-themed street names; Wedgewood Park, featuring streets named after cities and other places in the state of Virginia; and Eagle Valley, where all of the streets are named after eagles or eagle’s nests.
In addition, the city of Woodbury’s street-naming policy states that east and west streets must be Roads, and north and south streets must be Drives. Meandering streets may be Boulevard, Curve, Lane, Trail, Way…you get the idea.
A Look Back
Can’t get enough of our town’s fascinating history? We’ve got you covered. Some of Woodbury’s most traversed roads have histories that date back to a time before automobiles were even invented.
- Military Road, the first road in Woodbury, was used as an infantry route during the Civil War, stretching 150 miles from Cottage Grove to Fort Ripley in Little Falls.
- Valley Creek Road is named after a small creek in Afton. But, before that, the road was known as Poor Farm Road because it led to the poor farm in Ramsey County.
In 2007, Woodbury Girl Scout Lisa Clinton documented the history of Woodbury street names for her Girl Scout Gold Award Project. For more information on her findings, go to woodburyheritage.org.