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World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > United States of America > Minnesota > Minneapolis-St Paul

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Minneapolis-St Paul History

Nicknamed the ‘twin cities’, Minneapolis-St Paul began life as two separate towns that both perched beside the mighty Mississippi River. Founded by immigrants arriving from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and northern Germany, Minneapolis came first, founded on the west bank in 1855, opposite St Anthony Falls.

Making the most of what was available to them, early settlers used the Falls to generate power for sawmills and flourmills, which by 1870, made Minneapolis the flour milling capital of the world. The presence of Fort Snelling encouraged more settlers to set up home there, with both tradesmen and travellers kept safe by the garrison.

While Minneapolis was springing up on the west bank of the Mississippi, another town was beginning to take shape on the opposite embankment. Formed from the tiny villages of Pig's Eye and Lambert's Landing, the fledgling St Paul swiftly grew, thanks to its convenient harbour which opened it up to river trade. From here, the manufactured goods of Minneapolis were sent downriver, while the construction of a rail link in 1867 gave rise to further expansion.

By the beginning of the 20th century, Minneapolis-St Paul was a thriving industrial town, famous for its flour mills and food processing plants – the latter still important in the city today. Further economic opportunities arose from the Hennepin Island Hydroelectric Plant, constructed in 1906 to harness the power of the river.

But the good times were not to last and like the US’s other big industrial centres, Minneapolis-St Paul was hit hard by the Great Depression of the 1930s and again by the post-war industrial malaise that hammered manufacturing in Europe and the US.

The city bounced back in the 1980s courtesy of a building boom that populated the skyline with glittering glass and steel buildings. It followed up with another construction-driven boom, this time in condos, in the 1990s. Today, building still plays a key role in city finances, with the old riverside the latest to be reworked by city planners.

Did you know?
• Charles Strite, the inventor of the pop-up toaster, was born in Minneapolis.
• The first digital recording to be commercially released was made at Minneapolis studio, Sound 80.
• The first successful open heart surgery was conducted in Minneapolis in 1952.

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Hilton Garden Inn

The Hilton Garden Inn in Downtown Cleveland is a business hotel located near Jacobs Field and Playhouse Square. The hotel has 240 guest rooms (eight of which are two-room suites), and among its amenities are complimentary high-speed internet access and indoor pool with whirlpool and a fitness centre. The hotel also offers two 24-hour business centres.

Radisson Hotel Roseville

For those who cannot decide between Minneapolis and St Paul, the Radisson Hotel Roseville is a good compromise. It borders both and there is free shuttle service within a five mile radius. Cosy guest rooms, decorated in earthy tones, include adjustable Sleep Number® beds and complimentary high-speed Internet access. The hotel features a large indoor recreation area with an oversized indoor pool, whirlpool, kiddie pool, sauna, game room, fitness centre and the award-winning Axel's Charhouse restaurant.

Graves 601

A sophisticated modern luxury hotel, Graves 601 is located in the heart of Downtown Minneapolis, on top of the Block E complex. Rising 22 stories above street level, the hotel's stylish rooms include large plasma screen TVs, high-speed Internet and other high-tech amenities. Bathrooms have five-head power showers. The hotel has two restaurants--the acclaimed Cosmos, and the pre-prohibition-styled Bradstreet Crafthouse Restaurant.

W Minneapolis-The Foshay

W Hotels took a 1929 art deco structure and whipped it into a hip hotel with a roaring 1920s theme. The lobby's original arcade ceiling has been restored as has the 27th floor boardroom - the Prohibition Bar. Rooms are stylishly modern with the signature W bed, W pillow menu, plus a state-of-the-art entertainment system, high speed internet access and weekday newspaper delivery. Other amenities include in-room spa services and a fitness centre.

Hilton Minneapolis

Housed in an elegant, 25-storey Victorian brick building, the Hilton Minneapolis is located in the centre of Downtown with convenient skyway connections to the nearby business, shopping and entertainment areas. Guest rooms are well appointed with rich colours, oak furnishings, a 'Serenity Bed' with down comforter, large HDTV, MP3 connection and high speed wireless internet. The health club includes an indoor heated swimming pool, sauna and Jacuzzi. For regional and international cuisine, the hotel offers the Skywater restaurant.

Saint Paul Hotel

A St Paul landmark saturated with old-world charm, this sophisticated hotel offers newly renovated rooms with comfortable mattresses, lighting with dimmers, high speed internet, mini bar and a finely appointed bathroom. Dining options include The St Paul Grill featuring an American dinner menu and M ST. Café for breakfast and lunch. The Lobby Bar, a popular meeting place, serves lighter fare as well as cocktails. A rooftop fitness centre, business centre and free internet in the lobby are nice touches.