The past perseveres in Minneapolis, where monuments, landmarks and living history sites await guided and independent exploration.
Minneapolis was born and thrived on the banks and water of the mighty Mississippi River where St. Anthony Falls fueled a lucrative flour milling industry now chronicled in one of the city’s many museums, the Mill City Museum. Built within the ruins of a 19th-century mill that was destroyed by fire, the museum overlooks Mill Ruins Park, featuring the remains of water-powered mills. Just blocks away is The Depot. Once a boarding place for trains of the Milwaukee Road Line, the renovated complex houses two hotels and an indoor water park and ice rink.
Take a walk across the Stone Arch Bridge, built in 1883, to St. Anthony Main on Main Street, a cobblestone street lined with buildings that date back to the 1850s. Attractions on Main Street include: Magical History Tours on Segways; Our Lady of Lourdes, a French Catholic church established in 1857 that still sells French meat pies; the Ard Godfrey House, once the family residence of the Maine millwright who helped put the waterpower of St. Anthony Falls to use; and Pracna on Main, the oldest restaurant in Minneapolis.
Hit all the attractions by walking the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail, a 1.8-mile interpretive loop that crosses the Stone Arch Bridge that runs along St. Anthony Main and crosses the river again via Nicollet Island, a 19th-century residential district.
Built in 1902, the Minneapolis Grain Exchange was the first steel structure in Minneapolis. Five years later in 1907, the grain industry was booming and the rich economy was reflected in the Basilica of St. Mary, the first basilica in the U.S. and one of the finest examples of Beaux Arts.
Some of Minneapolis’ most popular historic sites are also the homes of the city’s most notorious haunts. The tallest building in Minneapolis until 1971, the Foshay Tower (now W Minneapolis - The Foshay hotel), built in 1929 as a tribute to the Washington Monument, is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Wilbur Foshay, while the nearby gothic Minneapolis City Hall is said to harbor the spirit of a man hanged in 1898. Although there have been no reports of the paranormal, the Lakewood Cemetery in Uptown takes visitors back through nearly 150 years of history.
The American Swedish Institute’s lavish furnishings and interiors of the former Turnblad Mansion combined with detailed exhibits to convey the stories, traditions and culture of Scandinavia, honoring a heritage shared by many immigrants and residents. A new addition in 2011 (Nelson Cultural Center) ensure this historic mansion remains relevant for another century. Also included in the long list of Minneapolis museums is the Bell Museum of Natural History, which explores the natural history of Minnesota, and the Wells Fargo History Museum, chronicling banking in the Midwest.