A Brief History of Anoka…
The site which is now Anoka was first settled by immigrants in 1844. By the mid-1850’s, a town had grown, including a school, store, and flour mill. The city was formally incorporated in 1878. The name Anoka was derived from two Indian words. The native Dakota used A-NO-KA-TAN-HAN, meaning “on both sides”, or “from both sides”, referring to its location on the banks of the Rum River. The native Ojibwa used ON-O-KAY, meaning “working waters”.
The City of Anoka’s development was severely damaged by fire during its early years. Five major fires between 1855 and 1884 impeded the City’s development. The worst fire in the downtown area, in 1884, destroyed 86 buildings from the Rum River to Third Avenue. This whole section was rebuilt and is now the home of more than 120 thriving retail shops and service businesses that offer everything from gifts and collectibles to antiques, food and lodging.
It is believed that Anoka was the first city in the United States to put on a Halloween celebration. In October of 1920, Anoka’s Halloween legacy began and the celebration has been held every year since. Anoka has become the “Halloween Capitol of the World”. The many events during October including football games, costume contests, block parties, Grey Ghost 5k run, and three parades.
Anoka’s downtown business community continues to grow into a fully developed shopping destination housed within the framework of a historic buildings and our nostalgic Main Street. In 2012, Downtown Anoka’s two-year makeover was complete, with wider sidewalks, brand new roads and stunning landscaping. Main Street was left looking refreshed and as welcoming and authentic as ever.
Although we are growing, we’re still the quaint downtown you have come to know and love. Visit our Visitor Guide to find out more about specific products, services or businesses that are waiting to assist and entertain you. Or, visit the Contact Us page and we’ll help you in any way we can. We can’t wait to see you!