Occupied by the Dakota Sioux when French explorers first arrived in the 17th Century, Minneapolis has always made a desirable home and was for years the very edge of the American frontier. Straddling the Mississippi River and with access to several major lakes and canals, Minneapolis quickly became a logistics and supply depot for outbound settlers and explorers—a role the city still serves today.
And while the average temperature might be a little lower than in other American cities, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities or thirst for adventure among the city’s residents. From the Minnesota Twins’ Target Field—named by ESPN as “the #1 stadium experience in major league baseball”—to the city’s wealth of Art Museums and devoted bicycle culture, it’s often obvious that the city’s residents may work hard, but they also play hard.
Even in the year’s coldest months, Minneapolis is a beehive of activity. A hub for transportation, transit and cargo and one of the Midwest’s busiest and most important cities—a role that it’s served for centuries now …
Always a Hub of Progress and Power
Ever since the area was settled—even before the Industrial Revolution—Minneapolis was a key industrial hub for Midwestern businesses.
Using the hydro-power provided by the massive Saint Anthony Falls, early settlers built 17 different sawmills and numerous flour mills to process the resources that were being shipped in from nearby states. The resulting processed commodities could easily be shipped out by local companies on the Mississippi River, making for a buzzing local economy right from the get-go.
Before the turn of the twentieth century, Minneapolis was already a busy metropolis. The city’s local wheat was considered to be some of the best in the world, and the rowdy outlaw lifestyle of the city’s days as a frontier town had begun to wind down.
By 1950, a massive revitalization project was underway, razing almost half of the city’s downtown area to build impressive new structures and invite a whole new generation of businesses to the Twin Cities.
The movement was a massive success; fostering a new age of prosperity and cultural revival in the city’s downtown. Incoming emigrants from countries like Finland, Sweden and even Vietnam all brought their own kind of culture and local flair to this mostly white European city, and each new business endeavored to raise the architectural stakes with its bold new headquarters.
Nowadays, the city is known as an unlikely hub not only for business and entertainment—but for its bold architecture and world-class cuisine. For its uniquely fitness-minded people who’ve made the cold city into “America’s most Athletic City” according to a 2006 study.
And of course, that’s just the beginning …
A Vibrant Downtown Heart to the Twin Cities
Because when they’re out exercising or at the office, local Minneapolitans have an incredible array of different entertainment options to choose from …
There’s the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts—a breathtaking gallery with the works of Rembrandt and other major artists on display—or the Walker Art Center; even a Museum of Russian Art and an American Swedish Institute.
Second only to New York City in the number of live theater shows per capita, Minneapolis is just as appealing to the high-brow theater aficionado as it would be for a pro sports fan—with eclectic dramas, Broadway musicals and numerous other acts frequenting the city on a regular basis.
In large part, the city’s thriving cultural scene is a testament to its people’s dedicated patrons and systems for charitable support including public school programs, volunteering and philanthropy. Without a network of dedicated volunteers and donors, these kinds of cultural alternatives simply wouldn’t be possible.
Of course, as you probably already know, there’s also no shortage of arena excitement in the city either—from The Minnesota Vikings, the Twins, the University of Minnesota and even the Lynx (one of the WNBA’s most successful teams).
A Brilliant Kind of Chaos
According to the New York Times, Minneapolis is a “vast unstable laboratory that is constantly being reshaped by economic, political and imaginative forces. Seldom does that reality seem this seductive.”
And it’s true.
The Twin Cities have always been eager to pivot and accommodate the latest economic trend or niche industry. The city’s position as the hub of America’s quiet Midwest makes it the perfect place to enact bold new ideas—and Minneapolitans often follow through.
So where many of the Midwest’s big cities will become too focused on one industry—like brewing in Milwaukee or Auto manufacturing in Detroit—Minneapolis’ diversity has been a saving grace. When the city’s ford plant was shut down years ago it was bad news for the 1,000 or so workers laid off, but the city’s other industries led an almost instant recovery.
That’s why major, forward-looking Fortune 500 companies like Xcel Energy, Ameriprise Financial and U.S. Bancorp have set up their headquarters in the Minneapolis St. Paul area. Commerce, Rail/Trucking, Finance and Industry still comprise a major portion of the city’s economy, with smaller contributions from Publishing, Milling and Graphic Arts.
Overall, the nearly $200 Billion generated by the city’s economy accounts for a whopping 64% of the state’s Gross Product.
Joining the Condo Big Leagues
Since Minneapolis is still relatively accessible and easy to get around, the market for downtown condos has long been relatively dormant—or at least not worth considering. Now though; as population swells and the desire for chic urban residences rises, so too is the demand for luxury lofts …
Take Osmo Vänskä for example, conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra who’s now selling his downtown loft. Or consider the new “602 First” condos, the first new condos built on the North Loop in years, where prices are expected to range from $900,000 to $3 Million.
It’s clear that even out here in America’s Midwest, buyers are still looking for the best luxury money can buy … and demand will likely soon outstrip the city’s dwindling supply …