Minneapolis—a combination of ‘mni’, Dakota Indian for water, and ‘polis’, Greek for city—this metropolitan area is not only divided by the river, it’s combined with the state capital of Saint Paul giving it its Twin Cities nickname.
Various lakes, ponds, wetlands and rivers make up about six percent of the city, provide a livelihood and recreation for many residents—and in 1855, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the author of The Song of Hiawatha, named Hiawatha’s wife in honor of the 53’ Minnehaha Falls.
Abundant natural resources fueled the growth of Minneapolis—forests supplied wood, the vast landscape supplied wheat and fed livestock, and the great river supplied power to wool, flour, paper and saw mills.
Around the turn of the 20th century, the city saw remarkable growth as it became the world’s capital of flour and a key resource for timber. In addition, railroads to Chicago opened in 1867—the year the city was incorporated—and provided easy distribution of these semi-processed raw materials across the country.
German and Scandanavian immigrants adapted comfortably to the climate and job prospects and today their descendants make up over 40% of the population. Its Native American community is also strong as descendants of Chippewa, Sioux and Dakota tribes not only make up sizable portion of the population, their heritage can be seen and felt in many aspects of the city.
During the 1950s and 60s, unfortunately the city’s Gateway District was razed—along with many other architectural landmarks—however historic preservation of other buildings followed as a direct result.
And rebuilding has granted exciting opportunities for current architects to create modern works such as the Weisman Art Museum, or WAM. Designed by Frank Gehry it’s a teaching museum for the University of Minnesota. The modern works wing of the Walker Art Center—designed by Michael Graves in 2006—is home to 100,000 works of art and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
Printing and publishing naturally came to the area as an extension to the paper milling industry and includes Open Book—the largest arts center of its kind in the US.
In other arts-related fields, Prince is not only Minneapolis’s most famous musician, but with other local musicians he helped create venues which encourage musical experiences. Local listeners also support three not-for-profit public radio non-profit stations. And a statue of a fictional TV character—played by the real Mary Tyler Moore—commemorates the Emmy Award winning Mary Tyler Moore Show which was based here from 1970-73.
The perfect marriage of the city’s strongest interests—the arts and sports—perhaps came about in 2004 when architect and hockey player Frank Gehry designed the World Cup trophy for the NHL.
Before moving to LA, the Minneapolis Lakers became the NBA’s first dynasty during the 40s and 50s. In 1961, the Vikings—an NFL expansion team—and the Twins—the relocated Washington Senators—played outdoors in the Metropolitan Stadium until 1982.
Since 1982, the Metrodome is the only stadium in the country to have hosted championship games for football, baseball, and basketball. In addition, concerts, trade shows, community and religious activities are held throughout the year here.
Besides a form of exercise, biking is highly encouraged. Kiosks for bicycle sharing and pedicabs operate downtown thanks to Nice Ride Minnesota. In addition, many former railroad lines within the city have been converted for bicycle and pedestrian use—not to mention roller blading which began here as the Rollerblade company.