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Minneapolis was destined to be a center of commerce due to its location at the Falls of St.Anthony, which was named by the French explorer Louis Hennepin in 1680. St Anthony Falls is by far the largest source of water power on the Mississippi River. The falls were harnessed to power lumber mills in the 1840s and later for flour milling. By 1870, Minneapolis on the west bank and St Anthony on the east bank formed the largest flour producing center in the world. In 1872, Minneapolis absorbed its older neighbor. Most of the old St Anthony township is now known as Northeast Minneapolis. A small part of the old township comprises most of the current suburb of St. Anthony.
The name "Minneapolis" (meaning "The City of Lakes" in a mash-up of Dakota and Ancient Greek) refers to the city's many lakes. The local jewels are the "Chain of Lakes": Cedar, Isles, Calhoun, Harriet, Nokomis, each 3-4 miles around. The city's excellent parks department maintains walking and biking paths around the lakes, offering residents a place to exercise or stroll. The Lake Harriet Bandshell is a popular summertime event host often featuring the renowned Minnesota Orchestra. Don't miss a ride on the restored trolley between Lakes Calhoun and Harriet. Couple enjoying Minneapolis trail system.
The city has done an excellent job fostering developed neighborhoods, each with a distinctive feel. Downtown is the visual anchor featuring the high-rise suites, sporting events (Timberwolves, Vikings, and Twins all play downtown), and nightclub scene. Northeast is the oldest part of the city, showing off its working-class and immigrant roots in great ethnic food, neighborhood bars, and social clubs, and more recently home to an arts and riverfront redevelopment movement. Uptown historically has been one of the city's youth centers featuring funky food, drink, theater, and plenty of tattoos and mohawks, but is orienting more towards yuppies and young families as real estate anywhere near the lakes becomes an ever more prized commodity. Uptown and the Lakes area dissolves into quiet, tucked-away Linden Hills (a one-time bedroom community) to the south and Lyn-Lake, home to many indie stages, music-oriented cafes and boozers, and alternative lifestyles and hangouts of all sorts, to the east. The University of Minnesota's main campus straddles the Mississippi River in the southeast surrounded by the usual college campus environs.
Minneapolis/Saint Paul International Airport, (IATA: MSP) (ICAO: KMSP), . The airport is divided into the Lindbergh and Humphrey terminals with most flights arriving at the former. Savvy travelers should check to make sure they know which terminal they are arriving at/departing from.
The new light rail train is extremely convenient for those who need to get downtown from the airport. Fare is $1.50-$2 depending on the time of day. The trains are fast and clean. They also serve the Mall of America and parts of South Minneapolis. The light rail station serves both the Lindbergh and Humphrey terminal.
Northwest Airlines (the world's fourth-largest) maintains one of its three US hubs at MSP and is the predominant presence and is a member of the SkyTeam alliance. Northwest offers non-stop overseas service from MSP to Tokyo-Narita, Amsterdam, and London (Gatwick). Sun Country also calls MSP home, making it that much easier to find discount fares to/from the Twin Cities within the continental United States. Icelandair, the only foreign intercontinental carrier at MSP, offers seasonal service to Keflavik with Boeing 757-200s. Air Canada Jazz is the second foreign carrier offering service to Toronto.
Airlines serving the Lindbergh Terminal:
Air Canada Jazz
Delta Air Lines
Airlines serving the Humphrey Terminal:
Miami Air International
Omni Air International
Sun Country Airlines
WARNING: The I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed on 01 Aug 2007. Repairs will not be completed for many months, if not years. Expect severe traffic congestion going into and out of downtown and the University of Minnesota campus especially during peak periods.
Interstate Highways 35W and 94 are the main arteries into town. Both will take you to the edges of downtown. I-35W runs north and south (for the most part) and I-94 east and west; both interstates will connect you to the I-494/694 beltway around the metro area. I-394 runs west from downtown to I-494, where it becomes US Hwy 12. Be sure to keep an eye on which lane you're in, as freeway interchanges come up fast, and traffic back-ups will occur at any time, day or night; the morning (7-9AM) and evening (3-7PM) rush hours are predictably congested.
Amtrak, . Daily service to Midway station, located just off University Avenue near the border between Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The "Empire Builder", Amtrak trains 7/27 and 8/28, serves the Twin Cities area, terminating at Chicago and Seattle or Portland (the train splits in Spokane, Washington). This train covers a route similar to the historic "Empire Builder" of the James J. Hill Great Northern Railway.
Taxi is probably your best bet for getting to your final destination from the train station, particularly if you're coming from Chicago or other points east. The train arrives at 10:30PM or later, when the heavily reduced night shift bus schedules have gone into effect. If a wait doesn't worry you the #16 bus runs along University Avenue, a block south of the station, and it will take you to downtown Minneapolis or Saint Paul. Consider fueling up at The Dubliner on University Ave across from the station. It's a great, friendly little pub and the #16 heading into Minneapolis stops on its doorstep.
Greyhound Bus Lines, and Jefferson Lines . Buses arrive at the Hawthorne Transportation Center, located at 950 Hawthorne Ave (at 10th St, one block west of Hennepin) in downtown Minneapolis. It's just a few minute's taxi ride away from most of the downtown hotels. It's 4-5 blocks away from a few major bus routes and the light rail. Check the web site above for schedule details. The depot is near a homeless shelter, so it's not uncommon to see a few homeless people hanging out nearby. The area is well-patrolled and quite safe.
Megabus, . Low-cost bus company that offers service to Minneapolis from Chicago and Milwaukee. From Chicago, you can connect to buses heading to St Louis, Kansas City, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Louisville. Fares can be as little as $1 each way if ordered far enough in advance. There are two marked stops in Minneapolis. The first stop is in downtown Minneapolis on the west side of 3rd Ave N between Washington Ave and 5th St (note: it's directly under the 4th St Garage). The second stop is near the University of Minnesota on the south side of University Ave next to the University Ave Parking Ramp, across the street from Williams Arena.