Endless reasons to visit the Minneapolis Riverfront District
Help Minneapolis celebrate its birth and other significant
Learn about the role Minneapolis played in the creation of the
State of Minnesota 150 years ago and many other riverfront “firsts”
that have impacted the world.
Did you know?The first permanent bridge ever built across the
-Mississippi River (shown above) opened in 1855 at what is now
Hennepin Avenue, a popular crossing point for American Indians for
hundreds of years.The first man-made dam across the Mississippi was
-completed in Minneapolis in 1858 to divert water into millponds on
each side of the river.The first central hydroelectric plant in the
nation was -built in Minneapolis in 1882.The first and only stone
arch bridge ever built across -the Mississippi was built in 1883 in
Minneapolis.Minnesota’s first presidential nominating convention
-was held in the Industrial Exposition Building in Minneapolis in
1892.Minneapolis’ flour milling -industry brought about many
marketing firsts, including the first radio cooking show (Betty
Crocker, starting in 1924) and the first radio jingle song in 1926
(“Have You Tried Wheaties?”).
To learn more about the birthplace of Minneapolis, visit
www.stanthonyfalls.org.To learn more about Minneapolis’ 150th
anniversary, visit www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/150.
History Track the founding and growth of Minneapolis and its
glory days +as the flour milling capital of the world while
visiting the Mill City Museum, Mill Ruins Park, First Bridge Park,
Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam visitor center, Federal
Reserve Bank Plaza, Whitney Plaza, Milwaukee Depot and Water Power
Park.Explore the beautiful St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail +on a
self-guided walking tour.Visit the restored Ard Godfrey house, +the
oldest home in Minneapolis.Experience the power of St. Anthony
Falls from the + magnificent Stone Arch Bridge. Minneapolis grew up
around the power of the falls.
Culture and entertainmentTake in performances at two Tony
Award-winning Minneapolis +theaters — the Guthrie and Theatre de la
Jeune Lune. See cutting-edge art at the Soap Factory. +Revel in the
literary arts at the Open Book. +Enjoy a movie, live music or some
Food and shoppingSavor the cuisine at an outstanding restaurant.
+Sip a cocktail on an outdoor patio. +E + xplore the fascinating
shops in Northeast and the North Loop.
Parks and recreationWalk, bike or blade miles of trails. +Find
out why this special area is a national park and +earn your Junior
Ranger badge.Take in the sights on the Minneapolis Queen excursion
boat, a +Twin Cities Trolley ride or a romantic horse-drawn
carriage ride.Explore the district on a Segway tour. +Ice skate at
the historic Depot Ice Rink. +Relax and admire scenic views of the
river, the downtown +skyline and the historic district from the
Riverfront parks.Celebrate with one of the many festivals, events
+or fireworks displays.
InformationFor things to do in the Minneapolis Riverfront
District, +visit www.minneapolisriverfrontdistrict.com.Information
hotline: (612) 673-5123 +
Visit Minneapolis’ birthplace on the Mississippi River
Walking tour map inside
First bridge to cross the Mississippi River, at what is now
Hennepin Avenue, shown in 1868
Nicollet Island & the River
Nicollet Island & the RiverNicollet Island first served as a
stepping stone for crossing the river. Today, it is a charming
neighborhood of rehabilitated historic homes and historic
industrial buildings that have been preserved for new uses. The
island is a treasury of residential architectural styles that were
popular in the late 19th century.
The magnificent 1 Stone Arch Bridge is the first and only stone
arch bridge to cross the Mississippi River. It was an engineering
achievement when completed as a railroad bridge in 1883 (another
125th anniversary!). For more information about the Stone Arch
Bridge and the many other fascinating bridges across the
Mississippi in Minneapolis, visit www.mrdbridges.com.
The waterfall now known as St. Anthony Falls held spiritual
power for American Indians who lived in this area for millen-nia.
It was the hydropower potential of those falls that attracted white
settlers to this point on the Mississippi River in the mid-19th
century. Learn how water can create power and the riverfront’s long
role in supplying hydropower at Water Power Park, 2 where you can
get a close-up view of the falls.
The 3 horseshoe dam you can see in the river today is the
successor to the rock-filled, timber-crib dam that was completed in
1858. This cooperative effort of the milling companies on both
sides of the river was the first man-made dam across the
Mississippi. It channeled the water into millponds on each side of
The East SideA commercial area for the early com-munity, the
Northeast and Southeast areas once again bustle with shops,
restaurants and galleries. The historic 1 Ard Godfrey House (1849)
the oldest frame house remaining in the city and was the
location for many meet-ings that helped shape the new com-munity of
St. An-thony. The house is open for tours on weekends from May 31
to Aug. 31. 2 Our Lady of Lourdes
Church, built in 1857, is the oldest continuously operating
church in Min-
neapolis and this year will celebrate a major renovation.
The long-gone but impressive 3 Industrial Exposition
Building (1886-1930s) was the site of Minnesota’s first
presi-dential nominating convention, the 1892 Republican
Conven-tion (the only presi-dential convention held in the state
In the city’s early years, historic 4 Main Street was
part of the Red River oxcart trail that brought trade goods from
northern Minnesota to the boat landings in Saint Paul in exchange
for manufactured goods. The restaurants in Riverplace and St.
Anthony Main occupy historic rehabilitated commercial and
industrial buildings. The handsome 5 Martin-Morrison Blocks
(1858) date from the city’s early years, as does the 1855
Block – the oldest surviving brick structure in Minneapolis.
The power of St. Anthony Falls first was harnessed for
sawmilling, and for many years Min-neapolis was the lumber
milling capital of the nation. Flour mills later supplanted
the sawmills, and the Minneapolis riverfront
grew into the largest direct-drive waterpower operation the
world has ever seen.
This flour milling was the world’s first industrial-scale food
processing and made Minneapolis the flour milling capital of the
world from 1880 to 1930.
The limestone 6 Pillsbury A Mill is one
of two National Historic Landmarks on the
Our Lady of Lourdes, 2007
Stone Arch Bridge, 1900
Oxcarts on Main Street, 1854Minnesota Historical Society
Minneapolis riverfront, recognized for its significance as the
birthplace of the Pillsbury Company and the largest flour mill in
the world when it was built in 1881. It was also the first mill in
the world to install electric lights. 7 The Soap Factory, an art
gallery specializing in cutting-edge visual arts, is housed in the
historic National Purity Soap Factory building and is one of the
many riverfront organizations celebrating an important anniversary
8 Father Hennepin Bluffs Park is one of many riverfront park
areas owned by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. It is
believed to be where Father Louis Hennepin became the first white
man to see the falls while traveling with the Dakota in 1680. Today
the park’s band shell features summer music. The lower portion of
the park offers a view of the only remaining segment of the
waterfall ledge that has not been covered by a concrete apron. The
Park Board, many of whose original founders were riverfront
businessmen, also celebrates an important anniversary in 2008
(Congratulations on 125 years!).
Nicollet Island & the River
Base map © Hedberg Maps, Inc.
If you’d like to learn more about the birth
of the City of Minneapolis at St. Anthony Falls
on the Mississippi River, visit www.stanthonyfalls.org.
The West SideExplore the North Loop’s wide variety of shops,
restaurants and galleries. The Theatre de la Jeune Lune offers a
year-round season of plays known for their visual uniqueness.
The first permanent span across the Mississippi River opened in
Minneapolis in 1855. A wooden suspension bridge crossing from
Nicollet Island to the downtown side of the river supplemented an
earlier bridge from Main Street to the island to complete the full
span. Today you can visit 1 First Bridge Park (under the current
Hennepin Avenue Bridge) to see the foundations of the first two
suspension bridges and learn more about these crossings that made
Min-neapolis a gateway to the west. The area that grew up around
this important first bridge became known as Bridge Square and was
the location of the 2 first town council meeting in 1858. In the 3
Federal Reserve Bank
Plaza, five bronze models illustrate how the Bridge Square area
has evolved from pre-settlement days to today.
ic Milwaukee Depot complex has hotels, a water park, historical
displays and a winter indoor skating rink. The MacPhail Center for
Music offers classes and performances. The renowned Guthrie
Theater’s founding 45 years ago was the birth of the regional
theater movement, and its architecturally stunning three-theater
complex (including the views from its “endless bridge”) is open to
both ticket-holders and the general public. 6 Open Book is the
first facility in
the nation devoted to the literary arts and offers classes and
special events at the Loft Literary Center and Minnesota Center for
The dramatic Mill City Museum was built within the fire-damaged
walls of the 1880 7 Washburn Crosby “A” Mill,
which is the birthplace of General Mills and one of two National
Historic Land-marks on the Riverfront. The museum offers year-round
adventures, including performances by costumed History Players.
General Mills was an innovator in both milling technology and
marketing. At Mill Ruins Park, you can still see – and learn more
about – some of the founda-tions remaining from the row of mills
that once stood between the plank-covered west side 8 waterpower
canal (built in 1857) and the river.
The nation’s first 5 central hy-droelectric station was built in
Minneapolis in 1882. In 1883, the instal-lation of a 257-foot-high
electric light mast in Bridge Square demonstrated the value of
lighting city streets with this new technology.
The Mill District is a growing neighbor-hood with delights for
visitors. The histor-
The first white settler’s house built on the Minneapolis side of
the river was the 4 John H. Stevens House,
built by ferry operator Stevens in 1849 near Hennepin Avenue.
Today the house resides in Minnehaha Park and you can visit it on
summer weekends and holidays to learn about the important role the
house and the Stevens family played in the birth of the community.
Wheaties Quartet ,1926
Base of the Bridge Square Light Mast,1883
Tepees around Stevens House, 1854
The Minneapolis Riverfront District is the birthplace of
Minneapolis and a powerful place of many firsts that affected the
state, nation and world. Tour the district to learn more about
these significant births and
firsts and see some of the sites that tell these stories. The
heart of the tour is the 1.8-mile St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail,
which guides you through the heart of the city’s birthplace with
markers explaining how Minneapolis was born and grew around the
waterpower of St. Anthony Falls.
How is a city born?The birth of Minneapolis cannot be traced to
any single event. American Indians have inhabited the area long
before Europeans arrived. White settlement around St. Anthony Falls
began on the east side of the river with the founding of St.
Anthony in 1849. The west side was not opened to settlement by the
federal government until a few years later. The name “Minneapolis”
was chosen in 1852, and the community of Minneapolis was
incorporated as a town in 1856. The Minneapolis town government was
formally organized on July 20, 1858, 150 years ago. In 1872, the
communities that shared St. Anthony Falls merged into a combined
city under the Minneapolis name.
The Minneapolis Riverfront
Birth Place & First Place
For more events, check out the Web sites shown,
visit www.livetheriver.org or call the
Minneapolis Riverfront District Hotline at (612) 673-5123.
The Soap Factory History RoomApril 19 to October 4The Soap
Factory, 518 Second Street SEwww.soapfactory.org (612) 623-9176
2008 marks the 20th anniversary of No Name Exhibitions and The
Soap Factory. Throughout the year Andy Sturdevant will curate a
history room for the building with artists who have exhibited at
their facilities over the past 20 years. FREE.
Big Top Chautauqua presents
“Old Minnesota: Song of the North Star” the statehood
Saturday, May 10, 8 p.m.; Sunday, May 11, 7 p.m.Pantages
Theatre, 710 Hennepin Avenuewww.hennepintheatredistrict.com (612)
673-0404 www.ticketmaster.comTravel back down the river of time
with Warren Nelson and the Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua. From
the native people to the early European immigrants, from the falls
of St. Anthony to the waters of Duluth, celebrate with us as
Minneapolis and Minnesota turn 150. Original music and hundreds of
large-screen historic images will entertain all ages. Come one and
come all to the birthday party of the century! Tickets $26, $20 and
Historic Main Street Walking ToursVarious dates and times, June
to SeptemberMeet at Pracna Restaurant, 111 Main Street
SEwww.millcitymuseum.org (612) 341-7555
Tour Minneapolis’ oldest neighborhood with a Mill City Museum
guide, who will describe life in the town of St. Anthony 150 years
ago. Tickets $12, $10 and $8.
Sesquicentennial Stamp Dedication CeremonySaturday, June 14,
11:30 a.m.Ard Godfrey House, Chute Square, University and
Centralwww.ardgodfreyhouse.org (612) 813-5319
This special Flag Day ceremony gives you an opportunity to get a
“Second Day” statehood sesquicentennial stamp at the home of the
first postmaster of St. Anthony, Ard Godfrey. The house will ) be
open for tours until 4 p.m.
Solstice River XII: Bridging the Cycles of Life Saturday, June
21, 8 p.m.Stone Arch Bridgeglobalsiteperformance.org (612)
Celebrate the Mississippi River on the longest day of the year.
Come to the historic Stone Arch Bridge and watch as it comes alive
with colorful dancers. This year’s event acknowledges the life
cycles of bridges and people, recognizing the 125th birthday of the
Stone Arch Bridge and the tragedy of the I-35W Bridge collapse. We
will pay tribute to the 13 individuals who died and their families.
The performance begins at 8 p.m. and concludes as the sun sets.
This is an excellent family event. Wheelchair accessible. FREE.
House to House and Falls to Falls Bike TourSaturday, June 28, 11
a.m.Meet at the Ard Godfrey House located in Chute
Squarewww.minneapolisparks.org (612) 313-7793
Visit the historic 1848 Ard Godfrey House on the east bank and
then bike south along the Mississippi River to visit the first home
built on the west bank, the 1849 John Stevens House, now located in
Minnehaha Park. Both homes played important roles in the early
history of St. Anthony and Minneapolis. Bring or buy lunch at
Minnehaha Falls. Cost $10. Reservations required.
Happy Birthday! CelebrationSaturday, July 19, 10 a.m. Mill City
Farmers Market, Chicago Avenue Mall at Second Street
Southwww.millcityfarmersmarket.org (612) 341-7580
In the birthplace of the Minneapolis milling industry another
first was born: the first farmers market in the Twin Cities to
focus on local, organic and sustainable foods. Come celebrate the
intersection of the city’s past and the future of local food in the
heart of the Mill District. Visit the market for breakfast and
groceries, take in the birthday-themed cooking demo, then tour the
Mill City Museum for a taste of the past!
River QuestSaturday, July 26, 10 a.m.www.minneapolisparks.org
Explore the birthplace of Minneapolis and help create a
river-focused treasure map. Pick a theme, determine a route and
create clues to lead your friends and family on a journey to reveal
the gems of the riverfront. For adults or families with children
ages 9 and up. Reservations required.
Little House on the Prairie –World Premier MusicalJuly 26 to
October 5Guthrie Theater, 818 Second Street
Southwww.guthrietheater.org (612) 377-2224
The Guthrie Theater, started in 1963 by Sir Tyrone Guthrie as
the birthplace of the regional theater movement, continues its
tradition as a birthplace/first place with its debut of the new
musical Little House on the Prairie. Check the Guthrie Web site for
ticket prices and performance dates.
Target Aquatennial FireworksSaturday, July 26, 10
Fireworks have been a riverfront tradition since July 4, 1856.
Watch the skies over the riverfront come alive with the
Aquatennial’s spectacular annual Target Fireworks Show, which this
year will celebrate the 150th birthday of the City of
Founders’ FestMonday, September 1, noon to 4 p.m.John Stevens
House, Minnehaha Park, 4801 Minnehaha Ave.www.johnhstevenshouse.org
The Stevens House will celebrate the founding of Minneapolis
with live music by Amador Hill, vintage games and toys,
storytelling, a vintage general store and more! Expect a visit from
Gideon Pond, early missionary to the Dakota Indians, who will be
greeted by John H. Stevens himself (as re-enacted by Jay Ludwid and
Rick Hagen). Admission is FREE. Refreshments available for