Minneapolis, officially the City of Minneapolis, is the county seat of Hennepin County, and larger of the Twin Cities, the 14th-largest metropolitan area in the United States, containing approximately 3.8 million residents. As of 2013, Minneapolis is the largest city in the state of Minnesota and 46th-largest in the United States with 400,070 residents. Minneapolis and Saint Paul anchor the second-largest economic center in the American Midwest, behind Chicago.
Minneapolis lies on both banks of the Mississippi River, just north of the river's confluence with the Minnesota River, and adjoins Saint Paul, the state's capital. The city is abundantly rich in water, with twenty lakes and wetlands, the Mississippi River, creeks and waterfalls, many connected by parkways in the Chain of Lakes and the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. It was once the world's flour milling capital and a hub for timber, and today is the primary business center between Chicago and Seattle, with Minneapolis proper containing America's fifth-highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies. As an integral link to the global economy, Minneapolis is categorized as a global city.
Dakota Sioux were the region's sole residents until French explorers arrived around 1680. Nearby Fort Snelling, built in 1819 by the United States Army, spurred growth in the area. The United States government pressed the Mdewakanton band of the Dakota to sell their land, allowing people arriving from the east to settle there. The Minnesota Territorial Legislature authorized present-day Minneapolis as a town on the Mississippi's west bank in 1856. Minneapolis incorporated as a city in 1867, the year rail service began between Minneapolis and Chicago. It later joined with the east-bank city of St. Anthony in 1872.
Minneapolis grew up around Saint Anthony Falls, the highest waterfall on the Mississippi. In early years, forests in northern Minnesota were the source of a lumber industry that operated seventeen sawmills on power from the waterfall. By 1871, the west river bank had twenty-three businesses including flour mills, woolen mills, iron works, a railroad machine shop, and mills for cotton, paper, sashes, and planing wood. Due to occupational hazards of milling, six local sources of artificial limbs were competing in the prosthetics business by the 1890s. The farmers of the Great Plains grew grain that was shipped by rail to the city's thirty-four flour mills. Millers have used hydropower elsewhere since the 1st century B.C., but the results in Minneapolis between 1880 and 1930 were so remarkable the city has been described as "the greatest direct-drive waterpower center the world has ever seen."
A father of modern milling in America and founder of what became General Mills, Cadwallader C. Washburn converted his business from gristmills to truly revolutionary technology including "gradual reduction" processing by steel and porcelain roller mills which were capable of producing premium-quality pure white flour very quickly. Some ideas were developed by William Dixon Gray and some through industrial espionage from the Hungarians by William de la Barre. Charles A. Pillsbury and C.A. Pillsbury Company across the river were barely a step behind, hiring Washburn employees to immediately implement the new methods. The hard red spring wheat that grows in Minnesota became valuable ($.50 profit per barrel in 1871 increased to $4.50 in 1874) and Minnesota "patent" flour was recognized at the time as the best in the world. Not until later did consumers discover the value in the bran (which contains wheat's vitamins, minerals and fiber) that "Minneapolis... millers routinely dumped" into the Mississippi. Millers cultivated relationships with academic scientists especially at the University of Minnesota. Those scientists backed them politically on many issues, for example during the early 20th century, when health advocates in the nascent field of nutrition criticized the flour "bleaching" process. At peak production, a single mill at Washburn-Crosby made enough flour for 12 million loaves of bread each day. By 1900, 14.1 percent of America's grain was milled in Minneapolis.
Known initially as a kindly physician, Doc Ames headed the city into corruption during four terms as mayor just before 1900. The gangster Kid Cann was famous for bribery and intimidation during the 1930s and 1940s. The city made dramatic changes to rectify discrimination as early as 1886 when Martha Ripley founded Maternity Hospital for both married and unmarried mothers. When the country's fortunes turned during the Great Depression, the violent Teamsters Strike of 1934 resulted in laws acknowledging workers' rights. A lifelong civil rights activist and union supporter, mayor Hubert Humphrey helped the city establish fair employment practices and a human relations council that interceded on behalf of minorities by 1946. In the 1950s, about 1.6% of the population of Minneapolis was nonwhite. Minneapolis contended with white supremacy, participated in desegregation and the African-American civil rights movement, and in 1968 was the birthplace of the American Indian Movement.
Minneapolis was a "particularly virulent" site of anti-semitism until 1950. A hate group recruited members in the city and held meetings there around 1936 to 1938. The Jewish Free Employment Bureau tried to help victims of economic discrimination with limited success. Formed in 1948, the nonsectarian Mount Sinai Hospital was a place where Jewish physicians and health professionals could practice.
During the 1950s and 1960s, as part of urban renewal, the city razed about 200 buildings across 25 city blocks (roughly 40% of downtown), destroying the Gateway District and many buildings with notable architecture including the Metropolitan Building. Efforts to save the building failed but are credited with sparking interest in historic preservation in the state.