U.S. Census Bureau Areas
|Minneapolis-St. Paul-St. Cloud CSA, MN-WI|
|Minnesota counties||Anoka · Carver · Chisago · Dakota · Goodhue · Hennepin · Isanti · McLeod · Ramsey · Rice · Scott · Sherburne · Stearns · Washington · Wright|
|Wisconsin counties||Pierce · St. Croix|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MSA, MN-WI|
|Other cities||Saint Paul · Bloomington · Brooklyn Park · Plymouth · Eagan · Burnsville . Eden Prairie . Maple Grove . Coon Rapids|
|Density||489.7/sq mi. (189.06/km²)|
|Area||6,364.12 total sq mi. (16483.07 km²)|
|Minnesota counties||Anoka · Carver · Chisago · Dakota · Hennepin · Isanti · Ramsey · Scott · Sherburne · Washington · Wright|
|Wisconsin counties||Pierce · St. Croix|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN Urbanized Area|
|Area codes||612 · 651 · 763 · 952|
|Minnesota counties||Anoka · Carver · Dakota · Hennepin · Ramsey · Scott · Washington|
Minneapolis-Saint Paul is the most populous urban area in the state of Minnesota, United States, and is composed of 186 cities and townships. Built around the Mississippi, Minnesota and St. Croix rivers, the area is also nicknamed The Twin Cities for its two largest cities, Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the former the larger and the latter the state capital.
The area is part of a larger U.S. Census division named Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI, the country's 16th-largest metropolitan area composed of eleven counties in Minnesota and two counties in Wisconsin. This larger area in turn is enveloped in the U.S. Census combined statistical area called Minneapolis-St. Paul-St. Cloud, MN-WI with an estimated population of 3.5 million people in 2006, ranked the 13th most populous in the U.S. 
To remind everyone there were actually two cities, people started using the phrase Dual Cities around 1872, which evolved into Twin Cities. Despite the "Twin" moniker, the two cities are independent municipalities with defined borders and are quite distinct from each other. Minneapolis has more broad boulevards, easily navigable grid layout, and modern downtown architecture. Saint Paul has narrower streets laid out much more irregularly, clannish neighborhoods, and a vast collection of well preserved late-Victorian architecture. Also of some note is the differing cultural backgrounds of the two cities: Minneapolis being affected by its early (and still influential) Scandinavian/Lutheran heritage, while St. Paul was touched by its early French, Irish and German Catholic roots.
Often, the area is referred to as simply the Cities by those who live outside the Twin Cities, both within Minnesota and in the nearby areas of Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan (especially the Upper Peninsula), the Dakotas and Canada. Today, the two cities directly border each other and their downtown districts are about 9 miles (14 km) apart. The Twin Cities are generally said to be in "east central" Minnesota. The Cities draw commuters from as far away as Rochester, St. Cloud, Albert Lea, Mankato and Eau Claire.
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 alone were estimated to have a population of 3,090,377 as of April 1, 2005. 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. 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 the MSA.
When speaking of the Twin Cities many locals are referring to an older seven-county area entirely within Minnesota, which is under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Council. The seven-county metro area contains a continguous urbanized area stretching from each core city with the exception of a few satellite cities. It is common for outstate Minnesotans to refer to the area as The Cities since the metro area is subdivided into distinct municipalities. The multiple "rings" of suburbs extending from the core area results from limited annexation powers in the early 20th century which halted the expansion of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Under current state legislation, an incorporated city status is more protected from annexation than townships (or towns). Presently, there are 188 municipalities in the seven-county region and 334 in the total eleven-county region ("Greater Twin Cities"). This differs from other major cities and associated metropolitan areas where the central city is the primary landholder.
The majority of Minnesota residents live in the Twin Cities region, but fewer than one in four people in the metro area lives in the two core cities—even though most metro area residents will indicate they are from Minneapolis or St. Paul(or most commonly, "The Twin Cities") on a national level. The Twin Cities share a common cultural lore in arts, media, food, celebration, and history. Twin Citians also still primarily work in the two core cities. The metropolitan area is one of several distinct regions of Minnesota.
Minneapolis and St. Paul have competed since they were founded, resulting in some duplication of effort. Both cities have campuses of the University of Minnesota, and after St. Paul completed its elaborate Cathedral in 1915, Minneapolis quickly followed up with the equally ornate Basilica of St. Mary in 1926. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the rivalry became so intense that an architect practicing in one city was often refused business in the other. The 1890 United States Census even led to the two cities arresting and/or kidnapping each other's census takers, in an attempt to keep either city from outgrowing the other.
The rivalry could occasionally erupt into inter-city violence, as happened at a 1923 game between the Minneapolis Millers and the St. Paul Saints, both baseball teams of the American Association. In the 1950s, both cities competed for a major league baseball franchise (which resulted in two rival stadiums being built), and there was a brief period in the mid-1960s where the two cities could not agree on a common calendar for daylight saving time, resulting in a period of a few weeks where people in Minneapolis were one hour "ahead" of anyone living or traveling in St. Paul.
The cities' mutual antagonism was largely healed by the end of the 1960s, aided by the simultaneous arrival in 1961 of the Minnesota Twins of the American League and the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League, both of which identified themselves with the state as a whole (the former explicitly named for both Twin Cities) and not with either of the major cities (unlike the earlier Minneapolis Lakers). Since 1961, it has been common practice for any major sports team based in the Twin Cities to be named for Minnesota as a whole, with the Twins and Vikings followed by the Minnesota North Stars (1967–93), Minnesota Muskies (1967–68), Minnesota Moose (1994–1996), Minnesota Pipers (1968–69), Minnesota Fighting Saints (1972–77), Minnesota Kicks (1976–81), Minnesota Strikers (1984–88), Minnesota Timberwolves (1989–present), Minnesota Thunder (1990–2009), Minnesota Lynx (1999–present), Minnesota Wild (2000–present), Minnesota Swarm (2005–present), and NSC Minnesota Stars (2010–Present). In terms of development, the two cities remain distinct in their progress, with Minneapolis absorbing new and avant-garde architecture while St. Paul continues to carefully integrate new buildings into the context of classical and Victorian styles.
The Twin Cities area is considered by Minnesotans as the capital for the arts of the Upper Midwest, the lead region among others such as the Twin Ports (Duluth, Minnesota-Superior, Wisconsin), Madison, Wisconsin and Milwaukee, Wisconsin (though it is fair to say that Madison and Milwaukee are more easily grouped and identified with the Chicago-dominated region). There is a very high per-capita attendance of theatrical, musical, and comedy events across the area, which some believe may be boosted by the cold winters but can be more realistically attributed to the large number of colleges and universities and to a generally strong economy, providing strong supply and demand for arts. In 2000, 2.3 million theater tickets were sold in the region. There are more theater seats per capita than in any other American city besides New York City.
Minnesotan musicians from all genres have gained notoriety over the years, with the singing Andrews Sisters gaining worldwide prominence during World War II, followed most notably by Hibbing, MN native Bob Dylan (who launched his career playing free shows on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus), to the rise of punk rockers like the Suicide Commandos, the Suburbs, Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, Soul Asylum, and the rhythm and blues stylings of Morris Day and the Time and Prince in the 1980s. R&B mega-producing team Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis have origins in the Twin Cities, and musicians Lester Young and Jonny Lang grew up in the Twin Cities.
These later sources brought the Minneapolis music scene to national attention; the period from about 1977 to 1987 was a period of incredible dynamism in the Minneapolis music scene, with offshoots in the punk scene including Soul Asylum, Babes in Toyland, the Clams, Rocksteady Breakfast, and many other seminal favorites, while Prince's immense power in the industry (which peaked during this period) created a Rhythm and Blues mini-empire at his Paisley Park Studios, based in suburban Chanhassen.
While contemporary local artists continue to enjoy critical acclaim — examples include hip-hop duo Atmosphere and frontman Slug's label Rhymesayers Entertainment; Saint Paul's independent record label Kamorra Entertainment; alternative metal band American Head Charge; and commercially successful pop-rockers Semisonic — things have slowed considerably, but the Twin Cities are still the region's musical hotbed. The area has also shown an unusual affinity for certain artists. For instance, while largely unnoticed on their home turf in New York City, the Twin Cities accounted for the majority of national sales for Soul Coughing's second album Irresistible Bliss during its first eight weeks of release; this followed from the fledgling fan that Soul Coughing found here while touring for their first effort, Ruby Vroom. The legendary First Avenue also is noted as the first venue to let the now worldwide famous Nickelback perform when they were turned down elsewhere. The Hold Steady have their origins in the Twin Cities and make frequent references to them in their lyrics.
There are a number of record labels located in the Twin Cities, including the hip-hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment (whose staff also operate a record store beneath their Uptown office) and 50 Entertainment (the best-staffed label in the Twin Cities, with 8 staff and 12 interns managing their two signed bands).
Minnesota and Wisconsin have also contributed significantly to comedy in its many different forms. Garrison Keillor is known around the country for resurrecting the old-style radio comedy with A Prairie Home Companion. Local television had the satirical show The Bedtime Nooz in the 1960s, while area natives Lizz Winstead and Craig Kilborn helped create the increasingly influential Daily Show decades later. The standup scene of Minneapolis-St. Paul during the 1980s and 1990s was a major force in national comedy. The Brave New Workshop, the nation's oldest satirical sketch comedy theatre, is in Minneapolis, and home to Improv A Go Go and the Twin Cities Improv Festival. Joel and Ethan Coen have produced many films featuring dark comedy, and numerous others brought the offbeat cult shows Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Let's Bowl to the national cable-waves from the Twin Cities.
There are a number of lakes in the region, and cities in the area have some very extensive park systems for recreation. Organized recreation includes the Great River Energy bicycle festival, the Twin Cities Marathon, and the U.S. pond hockey championships. Some studies have shown that area residents take advantage of this, and are among the most physically fit in the country, though others have disputed that. Nonetheless, medicine is a major industry in the region and the southeasterly city of Rochester, as the University of Minnesota has joined other colleges and hospitals in doing significant research, and major medical device manufacturers started in the region (the most prominent is Medtronic). Technical innovators have brought important advances in computing, including the Cray line of supercomputers.
It is common for residents of the Twin Cities area to own or share cabins and other properties along lakes and forested areas in the central and northern regions of the state, and weekend trips "up North" happen through the warmer months. Ice fishing is also a major pastime in the winter, although each year some overambitious fishermen find themselves in dangerous situations when they venture out onto the ice too early or too late. Hunting, snowmobiling, ATV riding and numerous other outdoor activities are also popular. This connectedness with the outdoors also brings a strong sense of environmentalism to many Minnesotans.
According to the 2006-2008 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area was 3,197,225. Approximately 49.7% of the population was male and 50.3% were female.
The age composition was as follows:
Median age: 36.3 years
The racial/ethnic composition was as follows:
NOTE: The above source covers the information given on population, gender, age, and the racial and ethnic compositions.
The top ten largest European ancestries were the following:
Approximately 91.2% of the metropolitan area's population was native to the United States. Approximately 90.6% were born in the U.S. while 0.6% were born in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, or born abroad to American parents. The rest of the population (8.8%) were foreign-born.
The highest percentages of immigrants came from Asia (38.2%), Latin America (25.4%), and Africa (20.1%); smaller percentages of newcomers came from Europe (13.1%), other parts of North America (3.0%), and Oceania (0.2%).
English is by far the most commonly spoken language at home by residents; approximately 88.0% of the population over the age of five spoke only English at home. The rest of the population (12.0%) spoke non-English languages. Spanish speakers made up 4.1% of the population; speakers of Asian languages made up 3.6% of the population; speakers of other Indo-European languages made up 2.4% of the population. Individuals who spoke languages other than the ones above represented the remaining 1.9% of the populace.
NOTE: The above source covers the information given on the European ancestries, places of birth, and languages spoken at home.
Minneapolis-Saint Paul is also a major center for religion in the state, especially Christianity. The state headquarters of the missionary efforts of four churches are found here: The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota the Presbyterian Synod of Lakes and Prairies and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) Minnesota Mission find themselves in, respectively, Saint Paul and Minneapolis; Minneapolis; and Bloomington (for both the Presbyterian and LDS(Mormon) Churches).
The headquarters of the former American Lutheran Church (TALC), Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lutheran Free Church and the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church were located in Minneapolis; the headquarters of Augsburg Fortress publishing house still is. The Minneapolis Area Synod and the Saint Paul Area Synod are the first and third largest synods of the ELCA, respectively.
The Evangelical Free Church of America has its headquarters in Bloomington.
The Twin Cities have always had a Jewish population and are home to several Jewish synagogues. The Twin Cities' Jewish population is concentrated in the western suburbs of Minneapolis with large numbers of Jewish people residing in Golden Valley, St. Louis Park and Minnetonka. There is also a strong Indian community and in 2006, the first Hindu temple opened in the Twin Cities suburb of Maple Grove. A recent influx of immigrants from Laos and Northern Africa has brought many more religions to the area. There are several Islamic Masjids in the area .There is a temple for the religion of Eckankar in the suburb of Chanhassen known as the Temple of Eck. In addition, Hmong and Tibetan Buddhist communities exist in Saint Paul; a Hmong Buddhist temple opened in suburban Roseville in 1995. The area's first Mormon temple opened in Oakdale, a suburb east of Saint Paul, in 2000. There are several very strong Unitarian Universalist communities such as the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, as well as several Pagan and Buddhist groups.
|Minnesota Twins||Baseball||Major League Baseball; AL||Target Field||World Series:1987, 1991|
|Minnesota Vikings||American football||National Football League; NFC||Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome||NFL/NFC Championship: 1969, 1974, 1975, 1977|
|Minnesota Vixen||American football||Women's Professional Football League||Varies|
|Minnesota Timberwolves||Basketball||National Basketball Association; Western||Target Center|
|Minnesota Wild||Ice hockey||National Hockey League; Western||Xcel Energy Center|
|Minnesota Swarm||Indoor lacrosse||National Lacrosse League; Eastern Division||Xcel Energy Center|
|Minnesota Lynx||Basketball||Women's National Basketball Association; Western||Target Center|
|St. Paul Saints||Baseball||American Association; North Division||Midway Stadium||Northern League Championship: 1993, 1995, 1996, 2004|
|Minnesota Thunder||Football (soccer)||USL First Division||National Sports Center||A-League Championship: 1999|
|Minnesota Freeze||Australian Football||United States Australian Football League;MAAFL(Mid-American Australian Football League)||Lake Nokomis Park||National Champions: 2007 Div II, 2005 Div III|
|Minnesota RollerGirls||Roller derby||Women's Flat Track Derby Association; Eastern Division||Roy Wilkins Auditorium|
|North Star Roller Girls||Roller derby||Women's Flat Track Derby Association; Eastern Division||Minneapolis Convention Center|
Some other sports teams gained their names from being in Minnesota. The Los Angeles Lakers get their name from once being based in Minneapolis, the "City of Lakes" (Minne-"lake" or "water" in Dakota, -polis-"city" in Greek). Minnesota is also known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes". The Dallas Stars got their name from being a Minnesota team, the Minnesota North Stars, as Minnesota is also known as "The North Star State". To avoid favoring either of the Twin Cities, most teams based in the area use only the word Minnesota in their name, rather than Minneapolis or St. Paul.
The annual Twin Cities Marathon is held in the fall with a course running through Minneapolis and St. Paul. Minneapolis was the birthplace of Rollerblade and is a center for inline skating as well as home to the most golfers per capita of any city in the U.S. Additionally, water skiing got its start on Lake Pepin, a short distance southeast of the metropolitan area.
The Republican National Committee held their national nominating convention at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Prior, both cities had combined to submit bids to host both the 2008 Democratic National Convention and the 2008 Republican National Convention. They competed against Denver and New York to host the Democratic Convention, and against New York, Cleveland and Tampa to host the Republican Convention.
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 (30 km) 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 European 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.
Natural geography played a role in the settlement and development of the two cities. The Mississippi River valley in this area is defined by a series of stone bluffs that line both sides of the river. Saint Paul grew up around Lambert's Landing, the last place to unload boats coming upriver at an easily accessible point, some seven miles (11 km) downstream from Saint Anthony Falls, the geographic feature that, due to the value of its immense water power for industry, defined the location of Minneapolis and its prominence as the Mill City. The falls can be seen today from the Mill City Museum, housed in the former Washburn "A" Mill, which was among the world's largest mills in its time.
The oldest farms in the state are located in Washington County, the eastern most county on the Minnesota side of the metropolitan area. Joseph Haskell was Minnesota's first farmer, harvesting the first crops in the state in 1840 on what is now part of Afton Township on Trading Post Trail
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-Saint 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 a new lock and dam facility 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 to Minneapolis/Saint Paul and eventually served distant points in the Pacific Northwest. Today, the only vestige of this interstate service comes by Amtrak's Empire Builder train, running once daily in each direction. It is the railroad's busiest long-distance train and is named after James J. Hill, a railroad tycoon who settled on Summit Avenue in Saint Paul at what is now known as the James J. Hill House.
Like many Northern cities that grew up with the Industrial Revolution, Minneapolis and St. Paul experienced shifts in their economic base as heavy industry declined, especially in the 1960s and 1970s. Along with the economic decline of the 60s and 70s came population decline in the central city areas, white flight to suburbs, and, in the summer of 1967, race riots on Minneapolis's North Side. By the 1980s and 1990s, however, Minneapolis and St. Paul were frequently cited as former Rust Belt cities that had made successful transitions to service, high-technology, finance, and information economies.
Along with much of Minnesota, the Twin Cities area was shaped by water and ice over the course of millions of years. The land of the area sits on top of thick layers of sandstone and limestone laid down as seas encroached upon and receded from the region. Erosion caused natural caves to develop, which were expanded into mines when white settlers came to the area. In the time of Prohibition, at least one speakeasy was built into these hidden spaces—eventually refurbished as the Wabasha Street Caves in Saint Paul.
While a few of the caverns have been cleaned up and are safe places, most are not. Over the decades, many people have been injured and killed while exploring them. A number of these incidents involved asphyxiation, sometimes caused by smoldering fires which used up much of the oxygen in the caves and left deadly levels of noxious gases behind.
Because it is comparatively easy to dig through limestone and there are many natural and man-made open spaces, it has often been proposed that the area should examine the idea of building subways for public transportation. In theory, it could be less expensive in the Twin Cities than in many other places, but the cost would still be much greater than surface projects.
Lakes across the area were formed and altered by the movement of glaciers. This left many bodies of water in the region, and unusual shapes may appear. For example, Lake Minnetonka out toward the western side of the Twin Cities consists of a complex arrangement of channels and large bays. Elevations in the metropolitan area range from 1,376 feet (419 m) above sea level in the northwest metro to 666 feet (203 m) at the edge of the Mississippi River in the southeast.
Owing to its northerly latitude and inland location, the Twin Cities experience the coldest climate of any major metropolitan area in the United States. However due to its southern location in the state and aided further by the urban heat island, the Twin Cities is one of the warmest locations in Minnesota. The average annual temperature at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is 45.4 °F (7.4 °C); 3.5 °F colder than Winona, Minnesota, and 8.8 °F warmer than Roseau, Minnesota.  Monthly average daily high temperatures range from 21.9 °F (−5.6 °C) in January to 83.3 °F (28.5 °C) in July; the average daily minimum temperatures for the two months are 4.3 °F (−15.4 °C) and 63.0 °F (17 °C) respectively.
Minimum temperatures of 0 °F (−18 °C) or lower are seen on an average of 29.7 days per year, and 76.2 days do not have a maximum temperature exceeding the freezing point. Temperatures above 90 °F (32 °C) occur an average of 15 times per year. High temperatures above 100 °F have been rare in recent years; the last occurring in July, 2006, during an unusually hot period in which the high temperature exceeded 90 °F on 17 of July's 31 days. The lowest temperature ever reported at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was −34 °F (−36.6 °C) on January 22, 1936; the highest, 108 °F (42 °C), was reported on July 14 of the same year.
Precipitation averages 29.41 in (74.7 cm) per year, and is most plentiful in June (4.34 in, 11 cm) and February (0.79 in, 2 cm) the least so. The greatest one-day rainfall amount was 9.15 in (23.2 cm), reported on July 23, 1987. The city's record for lowest annual precipitation was set in 1910, when 11.54 in (29.3 cm) fell throughout the year; coincidentally, the opposite record was set the following year, which observed a total 40.15 in (102 cm). At an average of 56.3 in (143 cm) per year, snowfall is generally abundant (though some recent years have proved an exception).
The Twin Cities area takes the brunt of many types of extreme weather, including high-speed straight-line winds, tornadoes, flash floods, drought, heat, bitter cold, and blizzards. The costliest weather disaster in Twin Cities history was a derecho event on May 15, 1998. Hail and Wind damage exceeded $950 million, much of it in the Twin Cities. Other memorable Twin Cities weather related events include the tornado outbreak on May 6, 1965, the Armistice Day Blizzard on November 11, 1940, and the Halloween Blizzard of 1991.
The four tallest buildings in the area are located in downtown Minneapolis. The first skyscraper built west of the Mississippi in 1929 was the Foshay Tower. Today there is some contention over exactly which building is the tallest—most Minnesotans would immediately think of the IDS Center if queried on the point, although most sources seem to agree that Capella Tower is slightly taller. But in early 2005, it was found that the IDS Center is taller by a 16-foot (5 m) washroom garage on top, which brings its total height to 792 feet (241 m). Capella Tower and the Wells Fargo Center only differ in height by a foot or two, a rather negligible amount. The IDS has communications towers that definitely are the highest points in Minneapolis, though some suburban broadcast towers in the region reach a much greater height.
Buildings have gone up and been torn down rapidly across the region. Some city blocks have been demolished six or seven times since the mid-19th century, and will undoubtedly reach an eighth or ninth cycle in short order. No single architectural style dominates the region. Instead, the cities have a mish-mash of different designs, although structures from a few eras stand out. There were once a great many stone buildings constructed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style (or at least Romanesque-inspired variants). Minneapolis City Hall is one big example of this, though buildings of all types—including personal residences such as the James J. Hill House—were similarly designed. A few decades later, Art Deco brought several structures that survive today, including St. Paul City Hall, the Foshay Tower, and the Minneapolis Post Office. The style of buildings in the two cities varies greatly. In Minneapolis, the trend has been buildings with sleek lines and modern glass facades while St. Paul tends to follow a more traditional style of buildings so as to better accompany its older structures.
St. Paul and Minneapolis in particular went through some massive urban renewal projects in the post-World War II era, so a vast number of buildings are now lost to history. Some of the larger and harder to demolish structures have survived. In fact, the area might be signified more by bridges than buildings. A series of reinforced concrete arch spans crossing the Mississippi River were built in the 1920s and 1930s. They still carry daily traffic, but remain pleasing to the eye despite their age (a number have undergone major repair work, but retain the original design). Several of the bridges are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They include the 10th Avenue Bridge, Intercity Bridge (Ford Parkway), Robert Street Bridge, and the longest, the 4119 ft (1255 m) Mendota Bridge next to Fort Snelling. The area is also noted for having the first known permanent crossing of the Mississippi. That structure is long gone, but a series of Hennepin Avenue Bridges have been built since then at the site. Both downtowns have extensive networks of enclosed pedestrian bridges known as skyways. Individually, the cities appear to have the largest such networks outside of Canada. However, the combination of the two cities' networks is believed to make the largest system in the world. Skyways have their drawbacks however. Most prominently, they reduce the amount of foot traffic at street level, so the cities appear to have little activity. An additional problem is that the skyways tend to be closed fairly early—especially in Minneapolis—but they are hives of activity on weekdays.
Several prominent buildings in Minneapolis have helped modernize the city. These include the Walker Art Center, Central Public Library, and the Guthrie Theater. Opened in April 2005, the new Walker Art Center, nearly double in size, includes increased indoor and outdoor facilities. The Walker is recognized internationally as a singular model of a multidisciplinary arts organization and as a national leader for its innovative approaches to audience engagement. The Guthrie received a large amount of media coverage for its opening in June, 2006. The design is the work of architect Jean Nouvel and is a 285,000 square foot (26,500 m²) facility that houses three theaters: (1) the theater's signature thrust stage, seating 1,100, (2) a 700-seat proscenium stage, and (3) a black-box studio with flexible seating. In 2002 the National Trust for Historic Preservation put the old Guthrie building on its list of the most endangered historic properties in the United States in response to plans announced by the Walker Art Center to expand on the land occupied by the theater. However, officials at the Walker Art Center say that the original Guthrie building will be torn down late in the summer of 2006. These building projects have rejuvenated the downtown area.
In the 20th century, the Twin Cities area expanded outward significantly. Automobiles made it possible for suburbs to grow greatly. The area now has a number of freeways to transport people by car. The area incorporates a large number of traffic cameras and ramp meters to monitor and manage traffic congestion. There is some use of high-occupancy vehicle (carpool) lanes, though it is not as pervasive as in other regions. When the roads do become congested, buses are allowed to drive on road shoulders to bypass traffic jams.
Interstate 94 comes into the area from the east and heads northwest from Minneapolis. Two spur routes form the I-494/I-694 loop, and I-394 continues west when I-94 turns north. Additionally, Interstate 35 splits in Burnsville in the southern part of the Twin Cities region, bringing I-35E into St. Paul and I-35W into Minneapolis. (This is one of only two examples of an Interstate highway splitting off into branches and then rejoining into one again; the other split occurs in Dallas-Fort Worth, where I-35 splits into I-35E for motorists who want to go into Dallas, and I-35W for traffic heading into Fort Worth.) They join together again to the north in Forest Lake and continue to the highway's terminus in Duluth.
On Wednesday, August 1, 2007, a large portion of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge near University Avenue in the city of Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River around 6:05pm CDT. A replacement bridge opened on Thursday, September 18, 2008.
The main airport in the region is Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), which is a major hub for Northwest Airlines (now merged with Delta Airlines). A number of other smaller airports are also in the area, a number of which are owned and operated by the Metropolitan Airports Commission (the same organization operates the main MSP airport). Some people even commute by air to the Twin Cities from the northern part of the state.
Metro Transit, by far the biggest bus service provider in the area, owes its existence to the old streetcar lines that ran in the area. Metro Transit provides about 95% of the public transit rides in the region, although some suburbs have other bus services. The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities operates a free bus system on its campus. This system includes the Campus Connector Bus Rapid Transit line which travels between the Minneapolis and St. Paul Campuses by a dedicated bus line, and throughout the two campuses on normal access roads. The Hiawatha Line light rail corridor began regular operations in June 2004, and is run by Metro Transit. In many ways a return to what existed in the past, it is being used as a stepping-stone to other projects.
A variety of rail services are currently being pondered by state and local governments, including neighborhood streetcar systems, intercity light rail service, and commuter rail options out to exurban communities. In addition, Minnesota is one of several states in the Midwest examining the idea of setting up high-speed rail service using Chicago as a regional hub.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul area has been criticized for inadequate public transportation. Compared to many other cities its size, the public transportation system in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area is less robust. As the metropolitan area has grown, the roads and highways have been updated and widened, but traffic volume is growing faster than the projects needed to widen them, and public transportation has not expanded enough to commensurate with the population. The Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area is ranked as the fifth worst for congestion growth of similarly-sized U.S. metropolitan areas. Although a light rail system, the Hiawatha Line, was added in 2004, additional lines and spurs are needed to upgrade public transportation in the Twin Cities. Plans have been proposed for light rail line connecting downtown Minneapolis to the suburb Eden Prairie while another light rail line connecting Minneapolis and St. Paul along University Avenue has been approved. Additionally, a commuter rail line connecting Minneapolis with Big Lake along the Northstar Corridor opened in November 2009; the line may be extended to St. Cloud as ridership numbers warrant.
The Twin Cities have two major daily newspapers: the Star Tribune and the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. Additionally, the Minnesota Daily serves the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus and surrounding neighborhoods. There is one general-interest neighborhood weekly newspaper still in the cities: The East Side Review, devoted to the 90,000 residents in the eastern third of St. Paul. Other weekly papers are devoted to specific audiences/demographics including City Pages.
The region is currently ranked as the 13th or 14th largest television market, depending on the source. Twin Cities Public Television operates both KTCA and KTCI. Hubbard Broadcasting Corporation built by Stanley E. Hubbard owns KSTP and has a second TV station, KSTC, which is not affiliated with any network. Diversified from radio, KSTP-TV became the first television channel to air in the region with a show reaching 3,000 television sets in 1948, and the 17th station to broadcast in the U.S.
KMSP and WFTC have now merged as well, and KARE currently has a marketing agreement with KPXM. The only station with its main studios in Minneapolis is WCCO, while St. Paul is host to KSTP/KSTC, KTCA/KTCI, and WUCW. KARE has a sprawling broadcasting complex in west suburban Golden Valley.Other stations are located in the suburbs. For much of the last two decades, WCCO has had the most popular evening newscasts of the area channels. On the other end, KSTP has struggled to maintain ratings on its news programs. KMSP has had a 9 o'clock newscast since at least the early 1990s when it was an independent channel.
Communities in the region have their own public/educational/government-access cable television channels. One channel, the Metro Cable Network, is available on channel 6 on cable systems across the seven-county region.
Several television programs originating in the Twin Cities have been aired nationally on terrestrial and cable TV networks. KTCA created the science program Newton's Apple and distributes a children's program today. A few unusual comedic shows also originated in the area. In the 1980s, KTMA (predecessor to KMWB) created a number of low-budget shows, including cult classic Mystery Science Theater 3000. The short-lived Let's Bowl started on KARE, and PBS series Mental Engineering originated on the St. Paul cable access network.
The radio market in the Twin Cities is considered to be somewhat smaller than for TV, ranked 16th. For decades, WCCO radio was the most well-known and most popular broadcaster in the region, with an all-day talk format. WCCO was eventually pushed out of the top spot by KQRS-FM, a classic rock station with a popular morning show.
KSTP also has some fairly popular radio stations, with pop music format on FM and a talk format on AM. KSTP-AM and FM are owned by Hubbard Broadcasting. In 1985, Hubbard – valued at $400 million – was one of the larger corporate media companies in the United States; in 2005, valued at US $1.2 billion, Hubbard is a fairly small major-market media operation.
The Twin Cities have a peculiar mix of commercial and non-commercial radio. The city's market is dominated by Clear Channel Communications which operates seven stations but two small independent stations are award winners—KUOM operated by the University of Minnesota and KFAI public access radio in Cedar Riverside.
Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) is also a major force in the state and across the country, best known across the U.S. for the variety show A Prairie Home Companion. Doing business under the name American Public Media, the company is the second largest producer of national public radio content, behind National Public Radio (of which MPR is an affiliate).
The United States Navy currently has one ship named for the region, the USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul, a Los Angeles-class submarine launched in 1983. Previously, two sets of two ships each had carried the names USS Minneapolis and USS Saint Paul.