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"Twin Cities" (note capitalization) redirects here. This article is about the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.


The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and the surrounding area is the most highly populated area in Minnesota and the 16th-largest metropolitan area in the United States as of the 2000 census[1]. Both built along the Mississippi River, Minneapolis is the largest city in the state, and St. Paul is the second largest and also the capital of Minnesota. There are other places around the world that are considered twin cities, but Minneapolis-St. Paul is one of the best known. Some consider Minneapolis to be the first city of the West, and Saint Paul to be the last old city of the East. Often, the area is referred to "The Cities", both within Minnesota and even in the bordering states of Iowa, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas (many people in the area are drawn from these states by the perpetually healthy economy and flourishing cultural scene). Areas of Minnesota outside of the Twin Cities are collectively referred to as "Greater Minnesota" or "Outstate" by people from the Twin Cities metro area. Today, the two cities directly border each other and their downtown districts are about 10 miles (16 km) apart. The Twin Cities are generally said to be in "east central" Minnesota. The Cities are seen as the economic engine of the entire upper midwest, and draw workers from as far away as St. Cloud.

The regionEdit

The U.S. Census Bureau defines the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Metropolitan Statistical Area as a region of eleven counties in Minnesota and two in neighboring Wisconsin, an area which had a population of nearly three million people (2,968,805) in 2000. The area is growing rapidly; its population is projected to increase to four million in 20 years, and the Minnesota counties in this area were estimated to have a population of 3,090,377 as of April 1, 2005. When speaking of the Twin Cities however many locals are referring to an older seven-county area entirely within Minnesota, which is under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Council. It is common for Outstate Minnesotans to refer to the area as the Cities. The majority of state residents live in the Twin Cities region, although fewer than one in four people in the metro lives in the two core cities.

7 counties 13 counties
Anoka
Carver
Dakota
Hennepin
Ramsey
Scott
Washington
Minnesota Wisconsin
Anoka
Carver
Chisago
Dakota
Hennepin
Isanti
Ramsey
Scott
Sherburne
Washington
Wright
Pierce
St. Croix

Bloomington, Minnesota, home of the Mall of America, is the third-largest city in the metro area and is in close contention for third place in the state, coming in at just about the same size as Duluth and Rochester in the 2000 census. (While most locals do not consider Bloomington to be a major city but a very large suburb, since the 2000 census it has been included as a named city in what is now termed the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MSA.)

There are multiple "rings" of suburbs extending outward from the core area, and having two central cities can make it difficult for visitors or new residents to learn the arrangement of cities and towns. There are 188 municipalities in the seven-county region alone, and there are 334 in the thirteen-county region.

ReligionEdit

Minneapolis-Saint Paul is also a major center for religion in the state, especially Christianity. The headquarters of the missionary efforts of no fewer than three churches for the state are found here: The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota and the Presbyterian Synod of Lakes and Prairies find themselves in, respectively, Saint Paul and Minneapolis; Minneapolis; and Bloomington. The headquarters of the former American Lutheran Church were located in Minneapolis; the headquarters of the Augsburg Fortress publishing house of its successor, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, still are. Also, the Minneapolis Area Synod and the St. Paul Area Synod are the 1st and 3rd largest synods of the ELCA, respectively. In non-Christian traditions, the Twin Cities have always been home to several Jewish synagogues, with influxes of immigrants in recent years bringing many religions once thought foreign to find their home in the fertile soil of the Mississippi River Valley.

HistoryEdit

The first European settlement in the region was near what is now known as the town of Stillwater, Minnesota. The city is approximately 20 miles from downtown Saint Paul and lies on the western bank of the St. Croix River, which forms the border of central Minnesota and Wisconsin. Another settlement that began fueling early interest in the area was the outpost at Fort Snelling, which was constructed from 1820 to 1825 at the confluence of the Minnesota River and the Mississippi River.

Fort Snelling held jurisdiction over the land south of Saint Anthony Falls, thus a town known as Saint Anthony grew just north of the river. For several years, the only resident to live on the south bank of the river was Colonel John H. Stevens, who operated a ferry service across the river. As soon as the land area controlled by Fort Snelling was reduced, new settlers began flocking across to the new village of Minneapolis. The town grew quickly, and Minneapolis and Saint Anthony eventually merged. On the eastern side of the Mississippi, a few villages such as Pig's Eye and Lambert's Landing developed and would soon grow to become Saint Paul.

The oldest farms in the state are located in Washington County, the eastern most county on the Minnesota side of the metropolitan area. Lake Elmo, just southwest of Stillwater, began with one farm in 1852 on the southwest corner of the intersection of what is now Manning Avenue and 30th Street, just east of downtown Lake Elmo. It was built in 1875, restored in 1998 and still stands today.

The Grand Excursion, a trip into the Upper Midwest sponsored by the Rock Island Railroad, brought more than a thousand curious travelers into the area by rail and steamboat in 1854. The next year, in 1855, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published The Song of Hiawatha, an epic poem based on the Ojibwe legends of Hiawatha. A number of natural area landmarks were included in the story, such as Lake Minnetonka and Minnehaha Falls. Tourists inspired by the coverage of the Grand Excursion in eastern newspapers and those who read Longfellow's story flocked to the area in the following decades.

At one time, the region also had numerous passenger rail services, including both interurban streetcar systems and interstate rail. Due to the width of the river at points further south, the Minneapolis-St. Paul area was briefly one of the few places where the Mississippi could be crossed by railroad. A great amount of commercial rail traffic also ran through the area, often carrying grain to be processed at mills in Minneapolis or delivering other goods to Saint Paul to be transported along the Mississippi. Saint Paul had long been at the head of navigation on the river, prior to new lock and dam facilities being added upriver in Minneapolis.

Passenger travel hit its peak in 1888 with nearly eight million traversing to and from the Saint Paul Union Depot. This amounted to approximately 150 trains daily. Before long, other rail crossings were built farther south and travel through the region began to decline. In an effort by the rail companies to combat the rise of the automobile, some of the earliest streamliners ran from Chicago, Illinois to Minneapolis/Saint Paul and eventual served distant points in the Pacific Northwest. Today, the only vestige of this interstate service comes by Amtrak's Empire Builder service, running once daily in each direction. The line is named after James J. Hill, a railroad tycoon who settled on Summit Avenue in St. Paul at what is now known as the James J. Hill House.


External linksEdit

  1. Population in Metropolitan Statistical Areas Ranked by 2000 Census Accessed 08/16/2006
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