If you are an Eden Prairie newcomer or have been here a while and are beginning to settle in, there are some basics you should know about the community:
Eden Prairie’s name originates with Elizabeth Fry Ellet, an East Coast writer who visited the area in 1853 and proclaimed it to be the garden spot of the territory in her travelogue book “Summer Rambles in the West.” But of course Native Americans called this area home for many years before that.
Eden Prairie pretty much went straight from a township to a suburb. It has never had a traditional downtown as cities in Greater Minnesota typically have. Oh, there was a railroad station and general store along Eden Prairie Road, but for the most part people shopped in Hopkins and other nearby towns before suburban development began here.
Much of Eden Prairie’s rapid development took place in the 1980s, when for many years it was among the fastest-growing cities in Minnesota.
Today Eden Prairie has an estimated population of 63,726 and it’s much more diverse than it was 20 or 30 years ago. Between 20 and 25 percent of its population is non-white.
In 2010, Eden Prairie topped Money Magazine’s list of “Best Places to Live” and it has been listed among the top 10 many times. It typically ranks high in the quality of its schools, parks, housing, and tax base.
Students in a few neighborhoods of northernmost Eden Prairie attend Minnetonka or Hopkins schools, but for the most part the Eden Prairie School District boundaries are very close to the city’s boundaries – one of the factors that contributes to EP’s hometown feel.
Poverty has become more prevalent in Eden Prairie and other Twin Cities suburbs, exacerbated by the Great Recession of 2007-09. One measure of poverty is the percentage of school district children eligible to be enrolled in the free or reduced-price lunch program. This percentage rate varies from school to school, from 7.3 percent at Eagle Heights Spanish Immersion School to 35.9 percent at Eden Lake Elementary School (fall 2018 statistics).
Eden Prairie has a strong nonprofit community and many active civic organizations including Rotary, Lions, and more.
The dominant source of local news, over the years, has been the weekly Eden Prairie News newspaper and its website, edenprairienews.com. It was started in 1974 by a group of Eden Prairie neighbors who felt EP should have its own newspaper – not just a page of news in another community’s publication. They sold stock in the fledgling Eden Prairie Community News until an experienced publisher bought the paper.