"Center City, MN Summary" Center City by l0rens

Center City Travel Guide: 3 reviews and 4 photos


Center City is located 12 miles East of I-35 about half way between the city of Forest Lake and the Wisconsin Border. The village sits astride US Highway 8 a popular two lane highway that continues East across Wisconsin, ending at Lake Michigan.

Center City is the County Seat of Chisago County but is located centrally in the Southern half of the county. The name probably comes from the fact that it is centrally located in a larger community referred to as "the Chisago Lakes Area". Other villages around Center City include Scandia to the South, Lindstrom and Chisago City to the West, Almelund to the North, Shafer and Taylors Falls to the East.

It is just 45 miles North and East of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan center. Many local residents commute to work daily by traveling West on highway 8 then South on I-35 into the Twin Cities.


Center City and the area around it was originally home to Dakotah indian people. As the Ojibway (or Chipewa) were forced West with the coming of the White man the area came under their dominance. There are a number of burial mounds suspected to be memorials to tribal battles fought
in and near the village. The most accessible the mound that was cut into just West of the business district on the South side of Higway 8. Crescent Avenue takes you around and over the top of the mound and the Methodist cemetery at the top of the hill contains burials of early settlers. Several native american skeletons were unearthed in the 1950's when highway 8 was upgraded in this area.

The earliest white settlers to the immediate area came in 1851. The walked inland from the landing just South of Taylors Falls called Franconia. At the time, Taylors Falls was a booming logging town either milling lumber from logs or passing logs from further north down the river to be processed in Stillwater to the South. Franconia was a steamboat landing South of the falls.

The first homesteaders to the area were Swedish Immigrants. A party arrived in 1851 and established permanent homes in the area. Each year after that more Swede's arrived as the settlers wrote home to tell about the fertile land and beautiful lakes.

In 1853 the Swedes established their first Church, Chisago Lake Swedish Lutheran Church. This congregation is still active and the only church in Center City. The tall brick and frame steeple rises from the large yellow brick structure at the high point above North Center Lake at the intersection of upper and lower town. Upper town includes some of the earliest commercial buildings and at it's North end you will find the county court house. Lower town was formed when the railroad came through near the North shore South Center Lake. Most new businesses and some of the businesses in upper town moved South to lower town in succeeding years.

The City itself was not formally incorporated until after the turn of the century, some 50 years later.

The City of Center City Today

The village is almost like an Island, completely surrounded by Lakes. As a result of this, the population has stayed small and while the rural areas and neighboring Cities have grown dramatically in the last 20 years, Center City has remained a very small town. The population, between 300 and 400 has remained in that catagory through most of it's history.

The trend to large regional shopping centers and the growth of surrrounding towns leaves the Village with relatively few retailers. The Mainstreet Bank, Gordy's Pharmacy, the Red Hen antiques and collectables, the Swedish Village Mall with Vintage Liquor, Security-Victor Agency, Swedish Village Laundromat, convenience store and Ole and Lena's video rental and gift shop represent the bulk of retail businesses in town. Also in the Mall is the Center City Post Office.

Other services include the printshop in the lower level of the old bank building, Silver Shears Barbers, Beauticians and tanning. When it comes to dining there is the Swedish Village Restarant, The Porterhouse Bar and Restaraunt and Al's Bar and Grill.

As the county seat, and in addition to the courthouse and jail, there are several governmental offices in buildings througout the village.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:This is a small town that has changed little over the years. The lakes around it provide sporting opportunities and beautiful vistas. The people are friendly and welcoming.
  • Cons:There are only a couple of opportunities for lodging in the village. Retail is limited.
  • In a nutshell:A great place to live and raise a family.
  • Intro Updated Jul 22, 2003
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