The historic neighborhood was established in 1849 on the banks of the Mississippi River as the Village of Saint Anthony Falls. These falls were seen in 1680 by Father Louis Hennepin, a Jesuit who is credited with being the first European to explore the area that is now Minneapolis. He named the falls after his patron saint, St. Anthony of Padua. The neighborhood merged with the new city of Minneapolis in the late 1850s.

The neighborhood is within walking distance of downtown and the University of Minnesota. St. Anthony West is also host to Boom Island Park, a 14-acre (57,000 m2) riverside park. Broadway Street NE is the northern boundary, and the neighborhood extends to Second Avenue on the south. The Mississippi River makes up the western extent and Washington and Fifth streets NE define the eastern boundary.

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