Northeastern Minnesota became part of the United States territory in 1783, by the treaty that ended the Revolutionary War. The rest was acquired by the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, and the northern boundary was determined by a treaty with Great Britain in 1818.
By act of the United States Congress, the Territory of Minnesota was created on March 3, 1849. The first Territorial Legislature met on September 2, 1849. The third territorial Legislature created Hennepin County on March 6, 1852. The County was organized on October 21, 1852. It is interesting to note that at the first County election held on October 11, 1852, in which legislatures, commissioners, sheriff, coroner, and other County officials were elected, that they were all elected unanimously, each receiving 27 votes.
At this time, most of the land west of the Mississippi had not been surveyed and recorded, however this was being done and during this period Township No. 118 North, Range 21 West of the 5th Principal Meridian was surveyed and recorded. The abstracts of most of the property in Crystal probably contain the map of this Township. This was the Township the most part of which would later make up Crystal Lake Township. The area was on the North and West side of the Town of Minneapolis consisting of about 24 sections of land. Roughly it was bounded on the West by the Town of Plymouth, on the North by the Town of Brooklyn, on the East by the Mississippi, then in a southernly direction about 2-1/2 miles on the river to the town of Minneapolis.
On July 8, 1858, the County Board granted three tiers of sections of land, probably 24 adjacent to the North of Minneapolis for the purpose of forming the town of Farmersville. This however, never organized. In the meantime, on May 11, 1858, Minnesota had been admitted to Statehood into the Union.
The Hennepin County Government in 1860 authorized the organization of Crystal Lake Township. This was done by taking two tiers of sections of land from the Town of Brooklyn on the North and two tiers of sections from the Town of Minneapolis on the South. This consisted of 24 Sections of land bounded on the West by the Town of Plymouth, the North by Brooklyn, the east by the Mississippi River and the south by the Town of Minneapolis.
The thriving and rapidly expanding Town of Minneapolis organized in 1856 and incorporated as a city in 1866, was continually outgrowing its boundaries and in the period from 1866 to 1887, many expansions of the city limits took place and each time taking large portions of the rural area of Crystal Lake Township, including the eastern most portion on the Mississippi, the present Camden area. The Town of Golden Valley was formed on December 17, 1886, also taking a portion of th western area of Crystal Lake.
The first settler of Crystal Lake Township was John Ware Dow, who arrived on March 26, 1852, followed the next day on March 27th by John C. Bohanon. Later in the year, came Mrs. Rhoda Bean, and family; Joel and Eben Howe; John M. Snow; Hiram Armstrong; David Smith; John Wesley Dow; George Camp; and L.P. Warren. Many more settlers arrived in 1853 and 1854, too numerous to mention here.
A caucus, for the nomination of officers for this new town was held at the house of J.D. Malbon on March 24, 1860. The first election was held at the same place on April 3rd. The following officers were elected: Supervisors, Henry S Plummer, J.B. Johnson, and Lorenzo P Warren; Treasurer, Y. Gillespie; Assessor, Luther Bartlow; Justices of Peace, H.S. Camp and D. W. Jones; Constables, Warner Willy and J.S. Wales; Superintendent of Schools, N.R. Thompson. The total number of votes cast was fifty-five. The supervisors were authorized to levy a tax of $200 on the polls and real estate to defray incidental expenses for the year of 1860. April 30, Josiah Dutton was appointed assessor, Mr. Bartlow having failed to qualify.
The year following the organization of the town, saw the commencement of the Civil War. The town paid no bounties, but furnished its quota of men, all volunteers, except one.
On the west side of Crystal and Twin Lake was the Crystal Prairie, a strip about four miles long and one mile wide, of rich soil. East of the lake to the Mississippi river was wooded area. In 1852, a shingle mill was built at the mouth of Shingle Creek, from which it received it's name. In 1859, a flour mill was built on Shingle Creek near the Mississippi. In 1876, on the clay beds adjacent to the Mississippi river, several brick yards were opened with mills for grinding the clay and manufacturing of bricks. A blacksmith shop, dry goods and grocery store, a hotel, and a post office were also built in this period. Crystal Village was incorporated January 11, 1887, consisting of about 18 sections of land.
The first election of officers was held on March 8, 1887. The officers elected were Arthur Sanborn, President; Thomas Gearty, J.H. White and Philip Kuch, Trustees; N.R. Russ, Recorder; J.B. Johnson, Treasurer; Tomas Kirkwood, Assessor; D.C. Crandall and H.R. Stillman, Justices of Peace; and Charles Hommes, Constable. The population was about 587. The area consisted of 10,320 acres, none of which was in any previous incorporated city of village. The area contained Twin Lakes, Crystal Lake, Crystal Prairie, and a portion of the wooded area to the east of the lakes.
In 1887, Mr. A.B. Robbins came into the village and bought lands to form Robbinsdale Park. Robbinsdale was incorporated as a village on April 14, 1893, taking about three sections of the village of Crystal. This area included, Crystal Lake, the lower portion of Twin Lake and most of the business area and populated district of the village of Crystal. Also, in 1887 Minneapolis continued to expand it's boundaries making further cuts into the rural area of Crystal.
A post office was in existence in Crystal from 1885, being in the home of Fred P Stinchfeld located near the old City Hall on West Broadway. Mrs. Maude Merritt worked at the post office. It was discontinued in 1900 when rural free delivery came into being. Mrs. Merritt and her husband Gilbert moved into their 2-1/2 story home on their wedding night, September 7, 1891. This was located at about 5425 Hampshire Ave. N. The oldest house in Crystal was at 48th and Welcome and was 108 years old when it was moved to a site near the New Brighton Speedway.
City Hall was built in 1891 at about 54th and West Broadway. It served as a City Hall until 1951 and the Council meeting place until 1958, and was razed in 1962. The Northside Fire Station served as the City Administrative offices from 1951 to 1959 when the office moved to leased quarters at 6424 54th Ave. N. The offices remained there until 1965 with the new and present City Hall being dedicated on December 12, 1965.
In the meantime, after the annexations to other towns and cities, in the late 1800's the Village of Crystal became disorganized. It was reorganized in 1911 to prevent being annexed by Minneapolis. In 1936, the Township of New Hope was formed again taking with it, the western portion of the Village of Crystal. There have been several minor adjustments of the boundaries of Crystal in the ensuing years. The Village of Crystal became a City of the Second Class in 1960.