The Mighty Mississippi
Minneapolis Skyline

Looking from the old main street of Minneapolis east of the river.

View to the west

Sit on the bank of the old main street and watch the sun set behind the distant skyscrapers.


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Minnesota is the birth place of the greatest river in North America. The Mississippi has its headwaters in the Itasca State Park. The river is so small you can walk across it on stones without getting your feet wet. By the time it reaches Minneapolis it has gathered the output from farmland and forest, creek and lake and widens and wanders through the twin cities.

The region has seen its share of explorers, immigrants, industrialists and entrepreneurs.

As you look from the east bank of the Mississippi towards downtown Minneapolis there is now a skyline, however modest. When I was young the tallest building was the Foshay tower at 32 stories. The observation deck of the Foshay is still open but now it looks up to all its tallest neighbors. Wells Fargo, IDS, Pillsbury, Piper Jaffrey and more all are taller.

If you stand on the Hennepin Avenue bridge and look to the south the St Anthony falls and lock are directly in front of you. The area was a milling center for wood and grains in its infancy. The first lock on the Mississippi is located here and allows access for the barges to get another 3-5 miles north upriver.

A quiet and peaceful view over the river gives a false impression. The dangerous hidden currents beneath the river's surface take lives every year. And debris floating downstream provide hazards for the recreational users also. Sometimes it flows out of its banks as it did in the spring of April 2001 in our sister city St Paul. Even in Minneapolis the river roars high but stays within its banks.


Edited  Sunday, 22 August 2010