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About Minneapolis

Minneapolis is the largest city in the U.S. state of Minnesota and is the county seat of Hennepin County. The city lies on both banks of the Mississippi River, just north of the river's confluence with the Minnesota River, and adjoins Saint Paul, the state's capital. Known as the Twin Cities, these two cities form the core of Minneapolis-St. Paul, the sixteenth largest metropolitan area in the United States, with about 3.5 million residents. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population of the city of Minneapolis at 372,811 people in 2005.[3] The Metropolitan Council estimate for 2006 was 387,970.[1]

Destination Guides > North America > USA > Great Lakes > Minnesota > Minneapolis and St Paul

Downtown seen from the North Loop

 

Abundantly rich in water, the city has twenty lakes and wetlands, the Mississippi riverfront, creeks and waterfalls, many connected by parkways in the Chain of Lakes and the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway. Once the world's flour milling capital and a hub for timber, Minneapolis is the primary business center between Chicago, Illinois, and Seattle, Washington.[4] Regional theater was pioneered at the Guthrie Theater, one of many cultural organizations that draw creative people and audiences to Minneapolis for theater, visual art, writing and music. A diverse population, the community has a long tradition of charitable support through progressive public social programs and through private and corporate philanthropy. Public park systems are modeled after Minneapolis where a park is within one-half mile (800 m) of every home.

The name Minneapolis is attributed to the city's first schoolmaster, who combined Minnehaha and mni, the Dakota word for water, and polis, the Greek word for city.[5] Minneapolis is nicknamed the City of Lakes and the Mill City.[4]

Geography and climate

Glacial meltwaters formed Saint Anthony Falls near Fort Snelling about ten thousand years ago. Rushing water undercut sandstone and collapsed limestone, moving the falls eight miles (13 km) to the northwest.
Glacial meltwaters formed Saint Anthony Falls near Fort Snelling about ten thousand years ago. Rushing water undercut sandstone and collapsed limestone, moving the falls eight miles (13 km) to the northwest.[18]

Minneapolis history and the city's economic growth are tied to water, the city's defining physical characteristic, which was sent to the region during the last ice age. Fed by receding glaciers and Lake Agassiz ten thousand years ago, torrents of water from a glacial river undercut the Mississippi and Minnehaha riverbeds, creating waterfalls important to modern Minneapolis.[19] Lying on an artesian aquifer[4] and otherwise flat terrain, Minneapolis has a total area of 58.4 mi² (151.3 km²) and of this 6% is water.[20] Water is managed by watershed districts that correspond to the Mississippi and the city's three creeks.[21] Twelve lakes, three large ponds and five unnamed wetlands are within Minneapolis.[22]

Lake Harriet frozen in winter. Ice blocks deposited in valleys by retreating glaciers created the lakes of Minneapolis.
Lake Harriet frozen in winter. Ice blocks deposited in valleys by retreating glaciers created the lakes of Minneapolis.[23]

The city center is located just south of 45° N latitude.[24] The city's lowest elevation of 686 ft (209 m) is near where Minnehaha Creek meets the Mississippi River. The site of the Prospect Park Water Tower is often cited as the city's highest point[25] and a placard in Deming Heights Park denotes the highest elevation, but a spot at 974 ft (296.8 m) in or near Waite Park in Northeast Minneapolis is corroborated by Google Earth as the highest ground.

The climate of Minneapolis is typical of the Upper Midwestern United States. Winters are bitterly cold and dry, while summer is warm, sometimes hot, and frequently humid. On the Köppen climate classification, Minneapolis falls in the warm summer humid continental climate zone (Dfa). The city experiences a full range of precipitation and related weather events, including snow, sleet, ice, rain, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and fog. The warmest temperature ever recorded in Minneapolis was 108 °F (42.2 °C) in July 1936, and the coldest temperature ever recorded was -41 °F (-40.6 °C), in January 1888. The snowiest winter of record was 1983–84, when 98.4 in (2.5 m) of snow fell.[26]

Because of its northerly location in the United States and lack of large bodies of water to moderate the air, Minneapolis is frequently subjected to cold arctic air masses throughout the winter months. The average annual temperature of 45.4 °F (7 °C) gives the Minneapolis–St.Paul metropolitan area the coldest annual mean temperature of any major metropolitan area in the continental U.S.[27]

Demographics

Midsummer dance. Immigrants from Europe arrived beginning in the 1860s.
Midsummer dance. Immigrants from Europe arrived beginning in the 1860s.

During the 1850s and 1860s, new settlers arrived in Minneapolis from New England and New York, and during the mid-1860s, Scandinavians from Sweden, Norway, and Denmark began to call the city home. Later, immigrants came from Germany, Italy, Greece, Poland, and southern and eastern Europe. Jews from Russia and eastern Europe settled primarily on the north side of the city before moving in large numbers to the western suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s.[29] Asians came from China, the Philippines, Japan, and Korea. Two groups came for a short while during U.S. government relocations, Japanese during the 1940s, and Native Americans during the 1950s. From 1970 onward, Asians arrived from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. Beginning in the 1990s, a large Latino population arrived, along with refugees from Africa, especially from Somalia.[30]

Into the 21st century, Minneapolis continues its heritage of welcoming newcomers. The metropolitan area is an immigrant gateway with a 127% increase in foreign-born residents between 1990 and 2000.[31]

Ashley Rukes GLBT Pride Parade. Minneapolitans have ancestors from five continents.
Ashley Rukes GLBT Pride Parade. Minneapolitans have ancestors from five continents.

U.S. Census Bureau estimates in 2005 show the population of Minneapolis to be 372,811, a 2.6% drop since the 2000 census.[3] The Metropolitan Council estimates the population at 387,711 in 2005,[32] and 387,970 in 2006.[1] The population grew until 1950 when the census peaked at 521,718, and then declined as people moved to the suburbs until about 1990. The number of African-Americans, Asians, and Hispanics is growing. Non-whites are now about one fifth of the city's residents.[33]

Compared to the U.S. national average in 2005, the city has fewer white, Hispanic, senior, and unemployed people, while it has more people aged over 18 and more with a college degree.[34]

Compared to a peer group in 2000, the metropolitan area is decentralizing, with a high churn rate and a large young and white population and low unemployment. Racial and ethnic minorities lag behind white counterparts in education, with 15% of black and 13% of Hispanic people holding bachelor's degrees compared to 42% of the white population. The standard of living is on the rise, with incomes among the highest in the Midwest, but median household income among black people is below that of white by over $17,000. Home ownership among black and Hispanic residents is half that of white, and one-third of the Asian population lives below the poverty line.[31]

Economy

Main article: Economy of Minnesota
Target Corporation's 350,000 employees operate about 1,500 retail stores in 47 U.S. states.
Target Corporation's 350,000 employees operate about 1,500 retail stores in 47 U.S. states.[36]

The economy of Minneapolis today is based in commerce, finance, rail and trucking services, health care, and industry. Smaller components are in publishing, milling, food processing, graphic arts, insurance, and high technology. Industry produces metal and automotive products, chemical and agricultural products, electronics, computers, precision medical instruments and devices, plastics, and machinery.[37]

White U.S. Bancorp towers reflected in 225 South Sixth
White U.S. Bancorp towers reflected in 225 South Sixth

Five Fortune 500 headquarters are in Minneapolis: Target Corporation, U.S. Bancorp, Xcel Energy, Ameriprise Financial and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Fortune 1000 companies in Minneapolis include PepsiAmericas, Valspar Corporation and Donaldson Company.[38]

Availability of Wi-Fi, transportation solutions, medical trials, university research and development expenditures, advanced degrees held by the work force, and energy conservation are so far above the national average that in 2005, Popular Science named Minneapolis the "Top Tech City" in the U.S.[39] Minneapolis ranked the country's second best city in a 2006 Kiplinger's poll of Smart Places to Live and one of the Seven Cool Cities for young professionals.[40]

The Twin Cities contribute 63.8% of the gross state product of Minnesota. The area's $145.8 billion gross metropolitan product and its per capita personal income rank fourteenth in the U.S. Recovering from the nation's recession in 2000, personal income grew 3.8% in 2005, though it was behind the national average of 5%. The city returned to peak employment during the fourth quarter of that year.[41]

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, with one branch in Helena, Montana, serves Minnesota, Montana, North and South Dakota, and parts of Wisconsin and Michigan. The smallest of the twelve regional banks in the Federal Reserve System, it operates a nationwide payments system, oversees member banks and bank holding companies, and serves as a banker for the U.S. Treasury.[42] The Minneapolis Grain Exchange founded in 1881 is still located near the riverfront and is the only exchange for hard red spring wheat futures and options.[43]

Parks and recreation

The Minneapolis park system has been called the best-designed, best-financed and best-maintained in America.[65] Foresight, donations and effort by community leaders enabled Horace Cleveland to create his finest landscape architecture, preserving geographical landmarks and linking them with boulevards and parkways.[66] The city's Chain of Lakes is connected by bike, running, and walking paths and used for swimming, fishing, picnics, boating, and ice skating. A parkway for cars, a bikeway for riders, and a walkway for pedestrians run parallel paths along the 52 mile (83 km) route of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway.[67]

Theodore Wirth is credited with the development of the parks system that brought a playground within the reach of most children, the city's canopy of trees, and a park within six blocks of each home.[68] Today 15% of the city is parks and there are 770 square feet (71 m²) of parkland for each resident.[69]

Minnehaha Falls is part of a 193 acre (.78 km²) city park rather than an urban area, because the waterpower provided by the falls was overshadowed by that of St. Anthony Falls a few miles upriver and its popularity after Longfellow's poem Song of Hiawatha brought visitors to the falls.
Minnehaha Falls is part of a 193 acre (.78 km²) city park rather than an urban area, because the waterpower provided by the falls was overshadowed by that of St. Anthony Falls a few miles upriver and its popularity after Longfellow's poem Song of Hiawatha brought visitors to the falls.[70][71][72]

Parks are interlinked in many places and the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area connects regional parks and visitor centers. The country's oldest public wildflower garden, the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary is near Theodore Wirth Park which is shared with Golden Valley and is about 60% the size of Central Park in New York City.[73] Site of the 53-foot (16 m) Minnehaha Falls, Minnehaha Park is one of the city's oldest and most popular parks, receiving over 500,000 visitors each year.[72] Henry Wadsworth Longfellow named Hiawatha's wife Minnehaha for the Minneapolis waterfall in his The Song of Hiawatha, a bestselling and often-parodied 19th century poem.[74]

Runner's World ranks Minneapolis America's sixth best city for runners.[75] The Twin Cities Marathon run in Minneapolis and St. Paul every October draws 250,000 spectators. The 26.2 mile (42 km) race is a Boston and USA Olympic Trials qualifier. The organizers sponsor three more races: a Kids Marathon, a 1 mile (1.6 km), and a 10 mile (16 km).[76] Minneapolis is home to more golfers per capita than any major U.S. city.[77] Five golf courses are located within the city, with nationally renowned Hazeltine National Golf Club, Bearpath Country Club, and Bunker Hills Golf Course in nearby suburbs.[78] The state of Minnesota has the nation's highest number of bicyclists, sport fishermen, and snow skiers per capita. Hennepin County has the second-highest number of horses per capita in the U.S.[45] While living in Minneapolis, Scott and Brennan Olson founded (and later sold) Rollerblade, the company that popularized the sport of inline skating.[79]

Education

Minneapolis Public Schools enroll 36,370 students in public primary and secondary schools. The district administers about one hundred public schools including forty-five elementary schools, seven middle schools, seven high schools, eight special education schools, eight alternative schools, nineteen contract alternative schools and five charter schools. With authority granted by the state legislature, the school board makes policy, selects the superintendent, and oversees the district's budget, curriculum, personnel, and facilities. Students speak ninety different languages at home and most school communications are printed in English, Hmong, Spanish, and Somali.[87] Besides public schools, the city is home to more than twenty private schools and academies and about twenty additional charter schools.[88]

Minneapolis' collegiate scene is dominated by the main campus of the University of Minnesota where more than 50,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students attend twenty colleges, schools, and institutes. Created in 1851 as a preparatory school, the university is noted for engineering, applied mathematics, management, health, and economics and administers more than 140 research facilities.[89] A Big Ten school and home of the Golden Gophers, the U of M is the fourth largest campus in the U.S. in terms of enrollment.[90]

Minneapolis Community and Technical College, the private Dunwoody College of Technology, and Art Institutes International Minnesota provide career training. Augsburg College, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, North Central University, and University of St. Thomas are private four-year colleges. Capella University, Minnesota School of Professional Psychology, and Walden University are headquartered in Minneapolis and some others including the public four-year Metropolitan State University have campuses there.[91]

The Minneapolis Public Library system operates the city's public libraries. It faced a severe budget shortfall for 2007, and has been forced to close three of its neighborhood libraries.[92] A merger with Hennepin County Library is proposed but not funded.[93] The new downtown Central Library designed by César Pelli opened in 2006.[94] Ten special collections hold over 25,000 books and resources for researchers, including the Minneapolis Collection and the Minneapolis Photo Collection.[95] At recent count 1,696,453 items in the system are used annually and the library answers over 500,000 research and fact-finding questions each year.[96]


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