It must have appeared like the perfect place to build a home, with the rivers, the falls, and the lakes around them. The Sioux and the Ojibwe nations had at one time called this place their own, until the Issati Sioux captured a Franciscan missionary, Father Louis Hennepin, around 1680. A member of an exploratory expedition, he and two others involuntarily traveled with the Sioux for six months while he renamed the waters on behalf of France. Somehow the name of the St. Anthony Falls survived long after Father Hennepin traveled back to Europe, and the news of the natural resources spread. When the Americans came back to stay, the Indians were historically "relocated".
The soldiers from nearby Fort Snelling took local wheat crops and began to build mills near the falls. The combination of water power and natural resources, such as wheat and timber, attracted experienced millers from the east, and with them came more settlers, all looking for work. One entrepreneur Dakota woman even used her canoe to earn money by ferrying people across the Mississippi River. When the press came to town, the newspapers probably facilitated discussions on naming the booming community. They decided to combine the Sioux word "minne" with the Greek suffix "-polis" to name it "the city of water".
Railroads cave the millers a more efficient transportation option, and helped to establish Minneapolis as a major producer of flour and lumber. A crisis areose when the structural integrity of their power source, the St.. Anthony Falls was in question, but the US Army Corps of Engineers came to the rescue with expertise and federal funding. Although the lumber supply would have been depleted by the early 20th century, wheat was a renewable resource and the flour mills continued to thrive. Minneapolis led the world in flour production for several years, until the Great Depression skewed supply and demand. Flour and grain continue to be major industries in the area.
Minneapolis citizens had their share of excitement in the 20th century. Two carburetor builders decided to build a 25-horsepower flying machine in 1909 (just six years after Kitty Hawk), and probably inspired a 14-minute flying exhibition at the next Minnesota State Fair. In 1921, the opening act for the city's first vaudeville theater production was a little known act called the Marx Brothers. A violent Teams strike in 1934 got the attention of the government, who had to intervene to calm things down. Another storm was weathered in 1946 when Mayor Hubert H. Humphrey responded to reports of anti-Semitism in Minneapolis by using his office to be a voice for civil rights. Engineering improvements at the St. Louis Anthony Falls were in place by the 1960s, and tourism began to soar upon completion of the Mall of America in 1992.
Today, Minneapolis consistently ranks as one of the best places to live and work in the United States. Modern developments like the enclosed pedestrian skyway and the Sculpture Garden continue to inspire some, but to others, the city's character will always be defined by its natural resources and its Native American heritage.