Minneapolis, MN is the largest city in the state of Minnesota and has a long history of ownership that extends back centuries. Residents like John Kistler and local supporters treasure the city because of its colorful past and the monumental events that secured its place in American geography, history, and industry.
The city of Minneapolis is situated on both sides of the Mississippi River, lying west of St. Paul and just miles from the Canadian border. Residents of the area, such as John Kistler, and Minneapolis enthusiasts appreciate the city for its rich history that extends back hundreds of years into the past.
“Minneapolis is so much more than half of the Twin Cities,” says John Kistler. “It has a wild history behind it. Minneapolis was initially claimed by the French nearly a hundred years before America was even born.”
The territory that we know today as Minneapolis was visited on a French expedition in the late 1600s. A priest that accompanied the sailors on their journey to the New World explored the area and came upon the Mississippi’s only waterfall, naming it Saint Anthony Falls after his patron saint. It was the expedition of this priest and the fellow men of his voyage that led the French to believe the Minneapolis area belonged to them.
The Spanish then laid claim to the area before it went back to the French, and then to the revolutionaries where it persisted as a municipal tug-of-war. It was only later negotiated into a sale that America secured through the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon Bonaparte.
John Kistler from Minnesota notes that the Americans truly established their presence in the area by building the famous Fort Snelling in the early 1800s. Fort Snelling extended the United States jurisdiction over the area and served to ease concerns about any British nearby. The soldiers that camped at Fort Snelling required food and supplies and looked to the surrounding nature to establish things like roads, vegetable gardens, wheat and hay fields, and acreage where they raised cattle. Three years after the Fort was constructed, the men of the area built a lumber mill and a grist mill on the river’s falls to keep the fort consistently stocked with supplies.
“From the soldiers cultivating the land for Fort Snelling you have the beginnings of civilized life in the area which would later become the Minneapolis and St. Paul districts,” says John Kistler.
A few decades after Fort Snelling was established, President Millard Fillmore reduced the Fort Snelling reservation and opened the area up to more settlers. The settlers kept coming until a sizeable amount saw it fit to name the area, and they called it Minneapolis, or the “city of waters.”
John Kistler notes that the mid-1800s ushered in the first bridge in the area (built over the Mississippi) to allow for more and improved traffic in and out of the Minneapolis. Shortly after, The Minnesota Legislature incorporated the University of Minnesota, which saw a rocky start before a final reopening in 1869. Today, the university is a highly-respected institution with tens of thousands of students studying there each year.
John Kistler and others remark on their city’s turbulent beginnings and claim to see the history written plain and simple in the architecture, land, and people of present-day Minneapolis.