Fridley is a city in Anoka County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 27,208 at the 2010 census. It was incorporated in 1949 as a village and became a city in 1957. It is part of the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area. Fridley is a "first ring" or "inner ring" suburb in the northern part of the Twin Cities. It borders Minneapolis at its southern border. Neighboring first ring suburbs are Columbia Heights and Brooklyn Center.
The post-European/American settlement history of Fridley begins with the construction of the Red River Ox Cart Trail in 1844, which traveled through Minnesota Territory from Saint Paul (present day Minnesota) to Pembina (present day North Dakota), now East River Road (also Anoka County Highway 1). The road was used to transport furs to the south and other various supplies to the Red River Valley settlers in the north.
In 1847, John Banfill became the first settler in the area, which was known at the time as Manomin. Manomin is a variant spelling of manoomin, the Ojibwe word for wild rice, a staple of their diet. It comprised the modern-day municipalities of Columbia Heights, Fridley, Hilltop, and Spring Lake Park.
The area soon grew quickly in size. In 1851, Banfill platted the actual town of Manomin. There, a general store and sawmill were built next to Rice Creek, named after Henry Mower Rice, a settler who just two years earlier had acquired a lot of land in the area. In 1853, the first town post office was in operation, and a year later, a ferry crossing the Mississippi River was established.
In 1855, Abram M. Fridley, for whom the city is named, was elected as the first territorial representative for the area.
In 1857, the area separated from Ramsey County; Manomin County was established, and it became the smallest county in the United States, having only 18 sections. This distinction was short lived, after it was annexed by Anoka County in 1870 and became a township with the same name.
In 1879, the Minnesota State Legislature, of which Abram M. Fridley was still a member, changed the township's name to bear his last name.
In 1949, the village of Fridley was incorporated. The Fridley Free Press was also established. A lawsuit that challenged the incorporation of the village caused the funds to be frozen. Minnesota state law allowed cities to operate municipal liquor stores. The Fridley Liquor store proceeds were the primary funding for the daily city operations until the lawsuit was resolved in 1950.
On May 6, 1965, Fridley was hit by two F4 tornadoes. One out of every four homes in the city was destroyed or damaged. The second twister that hit was the deadliest storm in Twin Cities history (see 1965 Twin Cities tornado outbreak), which killed a total of 13 people.
In 1970, Fridley began purchasing land which would become the Springbrook Nature Center.
On July 18, 1986, a widely photographed tornado spent 16 minutes in Springbrook Nature Center, destroying thousands of century old trees and extensive areas of mature forest habitat. A KARE 11 television news helicopter passing through the area shot the first aerial video of a tornado.
On September 21, 2005, Fridley was struck by straight-line winds exceeding , toppling many old growth trees as large as in diameter and in turn, destroying dozens of homes and several vehicles. Cleanup efforts took as long as a week, leaving hundreds of residents stranded in their homes without power, unable to drive until streets were cleared of debris. This same storm also affected Brooklyn Center, New Brighton, Brooklyn Park, Coon Rapids, Spring Lake Park and Blaine, as well as other communities in the surrounding North Metro area.