History of Downtown Minneapolis:
The city of Minneapolis grew up around the flour mills powered by St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River. Other industries overtook milling by the middle of the 20th century, but the west bank of the river remained the commercial center of the city.
Now office buildings and skyscrapers dominate downtown Minneapolis, together with modern apartment blocks, shopping centers, theaters, restaurants and all kinds of entertainment.
Location and Boundaries of Downtown Minneapolis:
Downtown Minneapolis is divided into two official neighborhoods: Downtown East and Downtown West.
Downtown West has the skyscrapers, Nicollet Mall, and the Warehouse district.
Downtown East has the historic mill district, the Metrodome, and a mix of residential and commercial buildings.
The official division between East and West is a zig-zag down Portland Avenue, Fifth Street South, and Fifth Avenue.
The general use of "Downtown Minneapolis" usually means all of Downtown West, and the western half of Downtown East. This area covers all of the skyscrapers and most major attractions of the Downtown neighborhoods.
Business in Downtown Minneapolis:
Downtown Minneapolis is one of the major commercial and finance centers in the Midwest. Fortune 500 companies with operations in downtown Minneapolis include Target (headquarters at 1000 Nicollet Mall) Ameriprise Financial (offices in the IDS Center at 80 South Eight Street) Wells Fargo (90 South Seventh Street) Xcel Energy (headquarters at 414 Nicollet Mall) and Quest (224 South Fifth Street).
The tallest buildings in Minnesota are all in Downtown Minneapolis. The IDS Tower is usually considered tallest at 792 feet, followed closely by 225 South Sixth at 775 feet and the Wells Fargo Center at 774 feet.
Downtown Minneapolis' Arts, Theater and Opera:
The Guthrie Theater is on the Mississippi in Downtown East. The Hennepin Theatre District has the three historic theatres: the Pantages, State and Orpheum Theatres, plus the modern Hennepin Stages, all on Hennepin Avenue.
The Minneapolis Central Library is a stunning modern building designed by Cesar Pelli.
Orchestra Hall is home to the Minnesota Orchestra. The state-of-the art technicolor building is also known as "the place with the big tubes outside" to non-opera goers.
The Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture garden are not technically in Downtown, but are only a couple of blocks southwest.
Shopping in Downtown Minneapolis:
Shopping is centered around car-free Nicollet Mall. Chain stores line the Mall, including a two-level Target store and a Macy's store that was once the flagship Dayton's store. People often call this store "Dayton's" even though the chain is no more.
Gaviidae Common is a shopping center divided between two adjacent buildings on Nicollet Mall. Gaviidae I and II house exclusive department stores, and specialty retailers.
Sports in Downtown Minneapolis:
In the winter, ice skaters can use the historic Depot's enclosed ice rink.
There are many attractive places to walk in Downtown Minneapolis. The Mill District, the Historic Theatre District, along the banks of the Mississippi and across the Stone Arch bridge are all interesting places for a stroll.
Eating and Drinking in Downtown Minneapolis:
Downtown Minneapolis has many restaurants and bars. Several restaurants are located on the skyway system in Downtown Minneapolis, and cater for the thousands of office workers.
Nicollet Mall is home to many restaurants and bars, such as Brit's Pub.
The Warehouse District also has many restaurants and cafes.
Nightlife in Downtown Minneapolis:
Downtown Minneapolis doesn't go to sleep once the office workers have gone home. The Warehouse district on the western edge of Downtown West has several nightclubs and live music venues, like First Avenue, the Aqua Nightclub, and the Karma Nightclub.
Block E is a entertainment mall in Downtown Minneapolis with a Kerasotes movie theater, and several nightclubs and restaurants.
Transportation in and Around Downtown Minneapolis:
Walking The easiest way to get around Downtown Minneapolis is usually by foot. Downtown Minneapolis is quite compact, and the skyway system connects many major buildings and attractions.
Driving Parking ramps are plentiful but can be expensive, especially during busy periods.
Almost all street parking is metered. A rechargeable Parking Card is convenient if you often park at meters.
Living in Downtown Minneapolis:
Homes in Downtown Minneapolis are apartments, studios, lofts and condos. There are new high-rise condo developments, and old warehouses and commercial spaces converted into modern apartments and lofts.
Apartments in buildings on the skyway system are more expensive. Parking a car adds a significant amount to living costs.
About 40,000 people, mostly young urban professionals, live in Downtown Minneapolis.
Attractions near Downtown Minneapolis
These are all within a half-mile of the boundaries of Downtown Minneapolis:
- The Basilica of St. Mary A century-old church, the co-cathedral of the Diocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul
- The Walker Art Center, Loring Park and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden A world-renowned modern art gallery
- The Minneapolis Convention Center Has sporting events and shows all year round
- Nicollet Island in the middle of the Mississippi River, it is home to pretty houses, parks, and horsedrawn carriage rides in the summer.
- Minneapolis Riverfront District covers the east and west banks of the Mississippi River. The East Bank has St. Anthony Main and the Old St Anthony Business District, with historic homes, happening restaurants and galleries.
- The Weisman Art Museum in an amazing modern building designed by Frank Gehry.
- The University of Minnesota's Northrop Auditorium puts on plays, concerts and ballet performances.
- The Minneapolis Institute of Arts a large museum with art from all around the world.
- The Children's Theatre Company shows plays and has workshops for children and teenagers
- The American Swedish Institute a museum and gallery celebrating Swedish culture.