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Minneapolis, Minnesota

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This article is about the city in Minnesota. There is also Minneapolis, Kansas. For an overview of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, see Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Downtown Minneapolis skyline in daylight.
Downtown Minneapolis skyline in daylight.

Minneapolis is the county seat of Hennepin County, Minnesota. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 382,618 making it the largest city in Minnesota and the 47th largest city in the United States. It is in the southeast part of the state, adjoining the second-largest city and state capital, St. Paul. Together, the two cities on the Mississippi River are known as the Twin Cities; this combined population would make it the 17th largest "city" in the U.S..

Minneapolis takes its name from minne, the Dakota word for water, and polis, the Greek word for city. This and the nickname "City of Lakes" refer to the many small bodies of water in and near the city. The city's name was suggested by an early settler and its first schoolmaster, Charles Hoag. The other names considered for the city were Brooklyn and Albion.

Minneapolis, probably including the surrounding metro area, is recognized as a world-class city.



The city grew up around the Saint Anthony Falls, the only waterfall on the Mississippi River and the end of the commercially navigable section of the river until locks were installed in the 1960s. Father Louis Hennepin was the first European to explore the area, giving the falls their name, as well as lending his name to the county in which Minneapolis is located. The nearby Fort Snelling spurred the growth of villages and towns in the area. A lumber mill was built on the falls in 1822 to supply the fort. In the 1840s, settlers were not allowed to stay on land controlled by the military without special permission, so the first settlement near the falls, St. Anthony, grew on the northeast side of the river, just outside of the fort's jurisdiction.

The first person authorized to live on the river's southwest bank was Colonel John H. Stevens , who operated a ferry service starting around 1850. A few years later, the amount of land controlled by the fort was reduced with an order from U.S. President Millard Fillmore, and free settlement followed. The village of Minneapolis soon sprung up on the southwest bank of the river. The village of St. Anthony was incorporated by the Minnesota Territorial Legislature in 1855, and Minneapolis soon followed in 1856.

The original campus of the University of Minnesota first appeared near the falls at this time. Today it is a Big Ten university with more than 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in the Twin Cities alone, making it one of the largest campuses in the country.

Minneapolis grew quickly during and after the Civil War and became a city in 1867. Outstripping the growth of its neighbor, the city merged with St. Anthony five years later in 1872. The early growth of the city was directed by the river, which ran to the southeast, and most early streets ran parallel to it to maximize the amount of land that could be used. Later growth of Minneapolis eventually turned to using north-south/east-west streets, so many unique intersections were formed to translate between the two layouts (probably the most famous of these is a site known as Seven Corners, on the eastern periphery of downtown).

Minneapolis at dusk, featuring the Stone Arch Bridge and the flour mills that were part of the city's initial economy.
Minneapolis at dusk, featuring the Stone Arch Bridge and the flour mills that were part of the city's initial economy.

Following an initial burst of activity in the lumber industry, the city's economy developed around the processing of grain from the Great Plains, which is reflected by the presence of companies such as General Mills and Pillsbury in the city. In its heyday, it was known as the "milling capital of the world." It was the leading producer of grain in the world until 1932. Today, it is still referred to as the mill city. More recently the city has become notable for its medical and financial industries, as well as the largest shopping mall in terms of indoor space in the United States, the Mall of America (actually located in Bloomington, a suburb south of Minneapolis). Minneapolis was the headquarters of Honeywell International Inc.

The 1920s and 1930s were a rather dark period in the city's history, as organized crime and corruption took hold of the region. The most notorious gangster from this time was Kid Cann (real name Isadore Blumenfeld) who ran much of his operation from the city's West Hotel . His criminal activities included bootlegging, racketeering, and prostitution.

In the 1950s and '60s, the downtown area of Minneapolis went through a major phase of urban renewal, which involved the razing of about 200 buildings across 25 city blocks—roughly 40% of the area. This included the destruction of a slum area known as "Skid Row," but also the destruction of many buildings with notable architecture. One of the most lamented buildings was the Metropolitan Building, known simply as "the Met". Efforts to save the building (which ultimately failed) are credited with jumpstarting a much greater interest in historic preservation in the state of Minnesota.

In the 1980s, Minneapolis took its place as a center of the arts, with the Walker Arts Center leading the nation in appreciation of pop and postmodern art, and a diverse range of musicians, from Prince to Hüsker Dü to the Replacements to the Suburbs leading the nation in musical innovation. This gave rise to the term "the Minneapolis Sound ", though the groups really shared very little in stylistic terms.

Another dark period came upon the city in the 1990s as the murder rate and incidence of gang violence climbed, especially in poorer neighborhoods. The Phillips neighborhood was particularly hard-hit. After reaching a record 97 homicides in 1995, the city gained an unpleasant nickname because of the violence: "Murderapolis." Supposedly coined by local gun shop owner Mark Koscielski, the term gained widespread use after The New York Times used it when reporting that Minneapolis had surpassed the per capita homicide rate of New York City. The murder rate retreated in the following years, but area residents often grow concerned that the nickname may make a comeback whenever there is an uptick in violence in the city.

Health and environmental issues have gained importance over the years. Many cleanup projects have taken place, and industrial activities have been scaled back or modified within the city. Minneapolis claims to be exceeding the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol, having significantly reduced emissions from stationary sources in recent decades, though automobile emissions continue to rise. On the scale of individuals, a ban on smoking in all bars and restaurants went into effect in March 2005.

Law and government

Minneapolis has a convoluted set of different government entities that oversee actions in the city. The most prominent is the Minneapolis City Council, which holds the most power. The mayor has some power to appoint certain individuals, such as the chief of police, but is otherwise relatively weak and must coordinate with the city council for most other activities. Other groups in the city include the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board , Minneapolis Public Library's Board of Trustees, the Neighborhood Revitalization Program , the Public Housing Authority, and the Board of Estimate and Taxation . These councils tend to be semi-independent, and some can levy their own taxes and fees. The school board exists as a separate legal entity from the city as Special School District Number 1 , commonly called the Minneapolis Public Schools.

There are some efforts currently underway to examine how the city government can be streamlined, though it is hard to say how quickly any changes might come about. A number of the city boards were created by the Minnesota Legislature between the time of the city's founding and 1920 when the city finally gained home rule by passing a new charter (simply an agglomeration of the various laws that had been specifically written for the city at the time). Things have improved somewhat since then, but the city still has one of the most complicated governments in the country, and many consider it a miracle that the city is able to operate as well as it does.


The current mayor of Minneapolis is R.T. Rybak. There have been a number of notable individuals who have held the office. Most are known for their positive influences on the city. Hubert H. Humphrey, who became mayor in 1945, started what may be the first equal employment commission while he was in office. He later went on to serve as US vice president and ran for president in 1968. Arthur Naftalin was the first Jewish mayor, while Sharon Sayles Belton became the first woman and the first African-American to hold the office. The city government has not been immune to corruption, however, and the man who exemplified that was "Doc" Ames. He essentially turned the police force into a group of organized criminals before an investigation forced him out of office more than a century ago.

See also: List of mayors of Minneapolis

City Council

Main article: Minneapolis City Council

The Minneapolis City Council is composed of 13 single member districts, called wards. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) dominates the council, with ten members, and Paul Ostrow (DFL, Ward 1) is council president. The Green Party has two members, and there is one independent.


A system of "skyways" (small, fully enclosed pedestrian bridges) link the buildings across more than 60 city blocks downtown region, providing a way to travel around the city without being exposed to the cold of winter or the heat of summer. The system is widely used by the daytime worker population, who are able to move around without their coats and other outdoor gear all day long. The street-level foot traffic is greatly reduced (especially as the outdoor temperature dips) and many businesses that would normally be located at ground level in other cities are instead brought up to the second floor. In fact, the interconnected passageways that include restaurants and retailers are sometimes considered as one of the largest shopping centers in the Twin Cities (though most businesses in the skyways close down at night and on the weekend).

Historically, Minneapolis and St. Paul provided some of the earliest rail passages across the Mississippi River, which widens downriver where the St. Croix River joins the Mississippi. Today, rail traffic through the city is diminished, and some of the old bridges such as the Stone Arch Bridge have been converted for bicycle and pedestrian use. These link into the extensive park and trail system of the city.

Most residents of Minneapolis get around the region by car, and a number of highways snake through the city. Minneapolis and St. Paul are the junction points between Interstate 94 and Interstate 35. I-35 splits into two parts when entering the metro area. The western half, I-35W, goes through downtown Minneapolis. The I-394 spur connects the downtown region to western suburbs. Two spurs from I-94, I-494 and I-694, make a loop around the metro area, but do not pass through the cities of Minneapolis or St. Paul.

Only two U.S. highways pass through the city, but they are unmarked and are routed somewhat ambiguously. U.S. Highway 12 meets with Interstate 394 in the western suburbs, and is presumably considered to follow that highway until the junction with I-94, which it follows to St. Paul and eastward. U.S. Highway 52 follows Interstate 94 north of the metro area, so it is considered to follow that all of the way through the city today, though it had originally been routed along surface streets and along University Avenue between Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Minnesota state highways include:

  • Minnesota State Highway 47 (Minneapolis to Aitkin) enters the city from the North as University Avenue
  • Minnesota State Highway 55 (Tenney to Hastings) passes through Minneapolis as Olson Memorial Highway and Hiawatha Avenue.
  • Minnesota State Highway 62 (Eden Prairie to Fort Snelling) runs along the southern edge of the city as the Crosstown Highway
  • Minnesota State Highway 65 (Minneapolis to Littlefork) follows Central Avenue through Northeast Minneapolis, then as Washington, 4th, and 5th Avenues though downtown Minneapolis
  • Minnesota State Highway 77 (Apple Valley to Minneapolis) ends as it enters the city from the south as Cedar Avenue.
  • Minnesota State Highway 121 (Richfield to Minneapolis) is a spur that connects Interstate 35W with Lyndale Avenue in South Minneapolis.

The city is served by air with the Minneapolis/Saint Paul International Airport, which is at the southeast corner of the city off of Minnesota State Highway 5. The airport is also bordered by Saint Paul, Bloomington, and Richfield.

Many households depend on public transit and the occasional taxi to get around. For some, this is a strictly economic decision, but many people in the city choose to forgo having an automobile in favor of biking, walking, or taking the bus. The transit system is descended from an extensive streetcar network that was operated by Twin City Rapid Transit until the streetcars were totally removed and replaced by buses in the 1950s. It is fair to say that the city was built on the rail lines, since the owners of the streetcar system invested heavily in real estate and intentionally built rails out to their land to spur development.

TCRT's descendant is Metro Transit, which runs most of the area's buses and has begun operation of a light rail system, the Hiawatha Line, which has proved to be popular. The line opened its first and second phases to the public in 2004, connecting the airport and Bloomington's Mall of America into downtown. A number of other rail projects including new commuter rail lines linking the city to the suburbs are in the planning stages, and the city council has officially begun "explor[ing] the feasibility of bringing back a streetcar system." [1] Some bus rapid transit lines are also likely to be built in the coming years.

Over the last twenty years, the system of bicycle trails has expanded from a long-standing system of recreational trails, the Grand Rounds , to include a network of on-street bike lanes and an increasing number of commuter trails. Minneapolis is one of the most heavily-biked cities in the country, with an average level of 10,000 people riding daily for commuting and recreation (there are significant seasonal variations, but many people bike year-round).


Main article: Media in the Twin Cities

The major newspaper in Minneapolis is the Star Tribune, which competes with St. Paul's Pioneer Press. Both of those are subscription-based papers, while a number of other publications in the city are entirely funded by advertising. The Minnesota Daily, a student-run newspaper at the University of Minnesota, is also produced in Minneapolis and has the third-largest circulation in the region. Significant free weeklies include City Pages and Pulse of the Twin Cities , with 2002 newcomer The Rake offering some competition in the form of a free monthly.

WCCO Channel 4, a CBS affiliate, is the only major Twin Cities television outlet that originates its broadcasts from Minneapolis today. Their studios are at the south end of Nicollet Mall in the downtown area. All of the other significant stations broadcasting to the metro area are based in neighboring St. Paul or the suburbs. However, KSTP Channel 5, an ABC affiliate, is located right at the border between the two cities along University Avenue. Other TV stations that can be received in Minneapolis include:

Significant radio stations that can be received in the city include:

  • KUOM 770 AM/106.5 FM ("Radio K", college rock)
  • WCCO 830 AM ("The Good Neighbor", talk)
  • KFAN 1130 AM (sports)
  • KSTP 1500 AM (talk) and 94.5 FM ("KS95", 80s, 90s, contemporary)
  • KBEM 88.5 FM ("Jazz 88", jazz)
  • KNOW 91.1 FM ("Minnesota Public Radio", news)
  • KCMP 89.3/KMSE 88.7 FM ("The Current", indie rock)
  • KQRS 92.5 FM ("KQ92", classic rock)
  • KXXR 93.7 FM ("93X", rock, heavy metal)
  • KSJN 99.5 FM ("Minnesota Public Radio" classical),
  • KTCZ 97.1 FM ("Cities 97", adult alternative)
  • KTIS 98.5 FM (contemporary Christian)
  • KJZI 100.3 FM ("Smooth Jazz 100.3", smooth jazz)
  • KDWB 101.3 FM (Top 40)
  • WLTE 102.9 FM ("102.9 Lite FM", adult contemporary)
  • WGVX 105.1/WGVY 105.3/WGVZ 105.7 FM ("Drive 105", adult alternative)
  • KQQL 107.9 FM ("Kool 108", oldies)

The communications towers on top of the IDS Tower in downtown Minneapolis mark the highest points in the city and are used by a few low- to medium-power broadcasters such as Univision and the Home Shopping Network. A number of major broadcasters attempted to use that site in the years after the IDS was built, but because of technical difficulties such as multipath interference, most of them now use other sites in the suburbs. Probably the most significant collection of transmitters is in Shoreview, Minnesota. The IDS is still maintained as a backup transmission site. At least one small radio station, KFAI, uses the antenna atop the Foshay Tower, which had been the city's highest point until the IDS Center went up in the 1970s.


Minneapolis claims to have the highest per capita attendance at theater and arts events outside of New York City, perhaps boosted by its famously harsh winters. The region is reportedly the third-largest theater market in the country, attracting major performances. The Guthrie Theater is the most famous theater in the city. In order to help revitalize the downtown and warehouse district areas of Minneapolis which had declined in the mid to late 20th century, the city purchased and renovated a few theaters on Hennepin Avenue to create the Hennepin Theatre District , including the State, Orpheum, and Pantages venues.

In 2004 with an attendance of 50,197, Minneapolis's Minnesota Fringe Festival was the largest non-juried performing arts festival in the United States and the third largest Fringe festival in North America. In 2005, the Minnesota Fringe runs 11 days, August 4-14. In 2004, 1,100 artists produced over 800 individual performances and events.

The most extensive museum in the city is the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Modern art is displayed in the Walker Art Center. The Walker includes an outdoor sculpture garden with "Spoonbridge and Cherry ," which has become a symbol of the city.

The Warehouse District adjoining downtown was a hub of studio and gallery activity in the 1980s, but most artists have been driven out by high rents. Today the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District is the most vibrant visual arts community in the city, though the largest art event (one of the largest in the nation) is the annual Uptown Art Fair .

Numerous festivals are held across the city during the year. Many are small, although others can attract visitors from across the region. Fireworks displays occur several times a year, although the largest is not on July 4th as in most American cities—that is reserved for one night during the official city celebration, the Aquatennial, held in mid-July. The Aquatennial display is reportedly the fourth-largest annual fireworks show in the nation.

Arts education is also strong in Minneapolis, with schools like the Perpich Center for Arts Education, an arts-oriented charter high school, and the Minnesota College of Arts and Design , an arts college adjacent to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, playing a central role in the city's visual, music and literary scenes.

Minneapolis was home to the "Minneapolis Sound " in pop music in the 1980s. Prince is Minneapolis's most famous musical progeny. His 1980 album Dirty Mind, features a song called "Uptown", dedicated to his favorite neighborhood in the city, and several other songs include references to the city. Arguably, producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have also been as or more influential as Prince in creating the Minneapolis Sound. The punk rock/pop groups such as Hüsker Dü and The Replacements were a force in the late 1980s, and Paul Westerberg (of the Replacements) still lives and works in Minneapolis. Popular acts from the 1990s include Babes in Toyland, The Jayhawks, and Soul Asylum.

Sports and recreation

Minneapolis has a large park system consisting of ten square miles (26 km²) of land and water that is interlinked in many places. The Grand Rounds Scenic Byway circles through the city and brings together many of the bigger park areas including land along the Mississippi River, many of the city's lakes, and other scenic areas of the city. The route has a parkway for cars (not a freeway—literally just a roadway through park land, though the number of stops is reduced), a bikeway for riders, and a walkway for pedestrians all running in roughly parallel paths along the 50-mile route. It is the first natural scenic byway totally located in a major urban area. Additional routes in the Minneapolis park system criss-cross the city, and the number of bikeways and walkways continues to grow. They also interconnect with neighboring cities.

One of the most famous parks in Minneapolis is Minnehaha Park, where Minnehaha Falls is located. A number of cultural heritage events take place there every year.

There are several freshwater lakes across the southern part of the city. The most significant grouping is the western "Chain of Lakes " consisting of Lake Harriet , Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles , and Cedar Lake . Lake Nokomis and Lake Hiawatha lie farther to the east.

The Minnesota Twins (Major League Baseball) and the Vikings (NFL football) both call the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome home. The stadium is at the east end of downtown Minneapolis. Several blocks farther west in the city's Warehouse District, the Target Center is home to the Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA) and Lynx (WNBA) basketball teams.

Women's football is played by the Minnesota Vixens , though that team does not appear to have a home venue.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 151.3 km² (58.4 mi²). 142.2 km² (54.9 mi²) of it is land and 9.1 km² (3.5 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 6.01% water.


Minnesota has historically been a home to Scandinavian and German immigrants, Scandinavians, (mostly Norwegians and Swedes) tending to settle in the colder, forested north, and Germans often residing in the warmer rolling hills of the south. Minneapolis sits between these two regions and thus has large populations of people of German and Scandinavian descent. Minneapolis also has a large Native American population, one of the largest of in the United States. After the Vietnam War, Minneapolis became a destination city for Hmong and Vietnamese refugees. More recently, a large influx of Somali refugees has modified Minneapolis's ethnic makeup.

The city's population has seen a significant decrease since its peak of 521,718 in 1950, although the number of people residing in the city has seen a rebound in recent years. The 1990 census recorded a low of 368,383, and the next census saw a small increase from that level. The rebounding growth has largely been due to an increase in the number of non-white residents, as the number of white residents has continued to decline and is now at its lowest level since the very early 20th century when the city had a much smaller total population. Jews, for example, were once a significant presence in the northern part of the city, but they have largely moved out to suburbs such as St. Louis Park. In general, the city suburbs have seen massive growth, and the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area has roughly doubled since 1950 and now has about three million residents.

Downtown Minneapolis has maintained a moderate population level when compared with similar cities, although it has been growing significantly in the last decade as new condominiums have been built. As of 2004, it is estimated that 25,000 to 30,000 people call the downtown region home, and the number is expected to grow rapidly. Still, the people living downtown are greatly outnumbered by commuters, who bring the daytime population up to about 165,000 each weekday.

As of the census2 of 2000, there are 382,618 people, 162,352 households, and 73,870 families residing in the city. The population density is 2,691.4/km² (6,970.3/mi²). There are 168,606 housing units at an average density of 1,186.0/km² (3,071.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 65.13% White, 17.99% African American, 2.19% Native American, 6.13% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 4.13% from other races, and 4.36% from two or more races. 7.63% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 162,352 households out of which 22.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 29.0% are married couples living together, 12.3% have a female householder with no husband present, and 54.5% are non-families. 40.3% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.0% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.25 and the average family size is 3.15.

In the city the population is spread out with 22.0% under the age of 18, 14.4% from 18 to 24, 36.6% from 25 to 44, 17.9% from 45 to 64, and 9.1% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 31 years. For every 100 females there are 101.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 100.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $37,974, and the median income for a family is $48,602. Males have a median income of $35,216 versus $30,663 for females. The per capita income for the city is $22,685. 16.9% of the population and 11.9% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 24.5% of those under the age of 18 and 10.9% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Minneapolis neighborhoods

Main article: Neighborhoods of Minneapolis

The city is divided into dozens of official neighborhoods, most of which coordinate certain activities under the Neighborhood Revitalization Program [2]. In some cases, two to four neighborhoods act together under a single neighborhood organization.

Additionally, some areas of the city are not organized into neighborhoods or are otherwise well-known. They are predominantly business districts. One such place is Dinkytown, near the University. To the southwest of Downtown is Uptown, which is loosely defined as the area around the Uptown Theater near the intersection of Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street, and features a large number of restaurants, bars, and independently owned businesses. A new neighborhood is also being planned for the University of Minnesota region, including the Stadium Village area around the former University Stadium.

Famous Minneapolitans

Companies headquartered in Minneapolis

Minneapolis's economy has been historically based on the adjoining agricultural area, though that has changed as you can see from the list of companies below:

Wells Fargo also has a very large regional office in Minneapolis. In 1998 Norwest Bank of Minneapolis bought Wells Fargo Bank of San Francisco, and then changed its name to Wells Fargo Bank and moved its headquarters from Minneapolis to San Francisco. An erroneous impression that Wells Fargo acquired Norwest may result. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is based in Minneapolis

3M and Ecolab are based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Northwest Airlines is based in Eagan, Minnesota. Dairy Queen is based in Edina, Minnesota. Best Buy is based in Richfield, Minnesota. Supervalu is based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. UnitedHealth Group and Cargill are based in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Medtronic is based in Fridley, Minnesota. General Mills is based in Golden Valley, Minnesota, though it lists Minneapolis as its headquarters address.

Minneapolis in the media

The television show The Mary Tyler Moore Show was set in Minneapolis. A statue of Mary Tyler Moore was erected downtown in 2002 to commemorate this.

Although the city is not often a setting for movies, a few notable ones have been filmed there:

See also

External links

Last updated: 10-23-2005 17:31:06
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