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Let me make what I'm talking about clear.

Minneapolis is basically the only metro area in Minnesota. This is not bad- I believe for a state of Minnesota's size this is the best way for organization. Why is it that it ended up this way? Why is it that you see cities like Wisconsin with tons of different metro areas (too many, actually)f? Was the Mississipp' the only (besides Superior) real "port" to build on?

I believe that this is somewhat- although maybe to a minor degree- why Minnesota is probably not only overall in the best shape in the midwest (even more than Illinois), but one of the best-off states in the US- Top 5.
 

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Well, how does one make a value judgement whether or not a state has "too many" metro areas? But thats an aside.

For Minnesota.....hmm.....perhaps something to do with the treeline, growing seasons, sparse midwestern great plains farmlands, the Canadian Shield, and so forth???

From what I understand the Twin Cities was sort of an interface between the more populated/intense ag Midwest and the Great Plains..and then the Pacific Northwest....it was the the jumping-off point for the two, later three big transcontinental railroads. Then when the air age arrived, it was the base for "Northwest-Orient Airways". Sort of a nexus there between the Twin Cities and Portland/Seattle/Tacoma.

And then the waterpower thing, which led to Minneapolis becoming a manufacturing (of a sort) center. From what I've read, grain was at first sent upriver to Minneapolis to be milled, before the Great Plains grain belt was opened.

So already an impetus to urbanization and manufacutring to kick-start the Twin Cities.
 

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I think a lot of the Wisconsin cities grew because their economies were manufacturing based--especially places like Green Bay (paper products), Neenah (manhole covers), Sheyboygen (brats), Racine (Johnson Wax), Janesville (Parker Pen), as examples.

In contrast Minnesota never really had a manufacturing based economy--other than the mills of Minneapolis. Instead it was more mining (Iron Range cities), shipping (Duluth--although Duluth did have a US Steel plant), and medicine (Rochester). Minnesota was probably just too far out of the main part of the Midwest for manufacturing to be viable.

As Minnesota has grown, its really been homegrown industries that probably could have happened anywhere, but did so in Minnesota by a combination of luck, a well-educated work force and that strong work ethic we're known for. Places like 3M, Medtronic, Target, etc...

I think another factor for the Twin Cities dominance is we have the combination of state capital and state university. St. Paul supposedly got first pick and choose to be the capital, Stillwater got second pick and chose the State Prison (because it offered more jobs back in the 1850s), and minneapolis chose the University. St Peter got the mental institution. Anyway, the combination of the state capital and state university is a combination that tends to produce cities with flourishing economies (Boston, Madison, Austin TX). Although, to be sure, lacking either one hasn't hurt Chicago!
 

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I agree with the lack of manufacturing thing. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Minnesota is so far away from the coal fields of the Appalachians.

Most of the smaller to medium sized cities that grew up in the Midwest east of here were driven by industry. From the end of the Civil War until the end of WWII manufacturing was mostly about making steel and building stuff with it, or secondary industries that flowed from that. Steel production requires iron and coal. Cheap bulk raw materials like that are transported most inexpensively by water. Most industrial centers in the Midwest arose in places where iron and coal could come together cheaply. Minnesota has plenty of iron but the coal is pretty far away, plus Lake Superior and the upper Mississippi are the first to freeze in their water systems so the shipping season is shorter than elsewhere.

The manufacturing that did arise was mostly flour milling and lumber milling centered around St Anthony falls on the Mississippi. (Minneapolis was at one time the largest flour milling center in the world and gave birth to both Pillsbury and General Mills).

My old Geography professor used to say that cities begin as transport hubs. They are the spot where the resources of the hinterland come together to be processed and traded, this gives rise there to activities like banking, law, advertising, etc. The Twin Cities have a very powerful natural advantage over any other part of the state in that department. It would almost be impossible for a major urban area to have not grown up here. It is the northern terminus of navigation on the Mississippi, the Minnesota river which is navagable almost all the way across the southern part of state drains into the Mississippi slightly downstream of St Anthony falls where Mpls, St Paul and Bloomington come together. The Minnesota valley is extremely fertile black earth farmland. Also upstream of St Anthony falls it was possible to ship stuff down the Mississippi to the falls. This area, especially the Rum River valley, had some of the richest stands of virgin white pine within easy access of civilzation in the country in the 1870s (white pine was one of the most economically important forest products back then), it also had a lot of rich farmland. So basically you had all of the natural resources of the southern 2/3rds of the state (and much of western Wisconsin) comming together in a place where there was a major waterfall to drive mills.

Also in the 1870s the Great Northern Railroad was built connecting the Twin Cities to Seattle. It allowed both of those places to grow into the major regional centers. It also opened up the northern tier of the west to practical settlement. It gave the Pacific Northwest, Idaho, Montana and the Dakotas easier access to markets back east and in Europe and visa versa. Almost all of that trade went through the Twin Cities via the Mississippi or to/from the east via Chicago. The importance of the Great Northern on the early formation of the Twin Cities should not be underestimated. It was big, it was the first railroad to connect the Northwest to the rest of the country. By the time the railroads stopped mattering so much the Twin Cities were already well established as the commercial center of the region. You take all of that and you add the state capital and the university and I think it gave them a bundle of attributes that no other part of the state could compete with.

I guess I am saying pretty much the same thing as Jeff and Todd but in more detail.
 

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Well, part of the region might also have to do with the relative "newness" of the state. Minneapolis/St. Pau were really settled and grew more or less in the latter half of the 19th Century. Many Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio cities were well established by then and the beginnings of the industrial revolution were already starting to shape up in some of those cities. As a result it may have been difficult for Minnesota cities to become full-out manufacturing centers in the way that other Midwestern cities became.
 

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marathon said:
I don't know that Minneosta has just the one urban area and Wisconsin has "so many". Until about 50 years ago, Duluth was bigger than anything in Wisconsin save for Milwaukee.
Wisconsin does indeed have many other urban areas. Minneapolis/St. Paul dominate Minnesota--for many obvious reasons like MplsTodd said.
 

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As for the metro comparison with Wisconsin, Minnesota has 3 of the top 200 metros in the US. Wisconsin has 4.

15 Minneapolis/St. Paul
26 Milwaukee
97 Madison
117 Appleton
149 Duluth
156 Green Bay
187 St. Cloud
 

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And Fargo is just on the other side of the river from MN with much of it's metro in MN 182th with 174,367. And Rochester is 235th with 124,130, compaired to Sheboygan 248th with 112,646.

I don't think it's that remarkable of a difference.. Between the two states. Except that generally when you go west you have lower population densities, until you hit the coast.
 

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torsten said:
As for the metro comparison with Wisconsin, Minnesota has 3 of the top 200 metros in the US. Wisconsin has 4.

15 Minneapolis/St. Paul
26 Milwaukee
97 Madison
117 Appleton
149 Duluth
156 Green Bay
187 St. Cloud
isn't st cloud with minneapolis now??? that would make 2.

I still don't understand how appleton is that far ahead of green bay....but then again in GB's metro area a major native american reservation stands.
 

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UWMilwaukeeJay said:
I still don't understand how appleton is that far ahead of green bay....but then again in GB's metro area a major native american reservation stands.
appletons metro includes oshkosh while green bay doesnt include any other 50,000 + cities in the metro area
 

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He probally means there are more metro areas around WI then in Minnesota.

Wisconsin has various ones all across the state, Minnesota's major population centers are all on the eastern part which isnt a suprise due to the bodies of water there. There are more in Wisconsin because we have Lake Michigan, as well as ports on Lake Superior (Duluth,MN/Superior, WI)and the Mississippi (LaCrosse). We have 4-5 metros on L. Michigan depending on if you classify Racine as part of the Milwaukee metro or Kenosha, which officially apart of the Chicago metro. Then there is Madison of course, the Fox Cities (which rival Madison metro in population), Janesville/Beloit, and Eau Claire---which I really have no idea how that because so big. You also got Wausau and Manitowoc which are small-medium sized metros.

Minnesota-Wisconsin are pretty damn similar though anyway. The populations of the two states are nearly identical.
 

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I agree with the earlier post that rapid decentralized industrialization is the common tread of the midwest (ohio, mich, indiana, illinois, wisco). Each of these states have many medium size MSAs to balance the "big one" in each state. The exception is Chicago, where Chicago is 8.5MM of 11.0MM residents (77%). In Wisco, Milwaukee is 2.0MM of 5.5MM (36%). Minnie is different - It is much more like the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Utah and Arizona mold where one city dominates the entire region's population. There seems to be a vast difference depending on whether you were part of the Louisiana Purchase (much newer part of the US) vs. the original Northwest Territories that were developed much earlier.
 

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^
Interesting observation....except for Missouri, which has that bipolar thing with STL and KC (with, perhaps, smaller cities in Springfiled and maybe Joplin and Cape Girardeau...tho the dropoff after STL / KC to Springfield seems pretty drastic.)
 

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ReddAlert said:
He probally means there are more metro areas around WI then in Minnesota.

Wisconsin has various ones all across the state, Minnesota's major population centers are all on the eastern part which isnt a suprise due to the bodies of water there. There are more in Wisconsin because we have Lake Michigan, as well as ports on Lake Superior (Duluth,MN/Superior, WI)and the Mississippi (LaCrosse). We have 4-5 metros on L. Michigan depending on if you classify Racine as part of the Milwaukee metro or Kenosha, which officially apart of the Chicago metro. Then there is Madison of course, the Fox Cities (which rival Madison metro in population), Janesville/Beloit, and Eau Claire---which I really have no idea how that because so big. You also got Wausau and Manitowoc which are small-medium sized metros.

Minnesota-Wisconsin are pretty damn similar though anyway. The populations of the two states are nearly identical.
Isn't Fox Cities like 225k metro? Whereas Madison is damn near double that. Eau Claire has a lake and some river action going on. Though I hear that the similarly sized LaCrosse has a far better off economy and downtown segment. I think it's a tad more urban too(think grid setup). It's on the Mississippi, close to Madison/Debuque. The 600 foot Grandad Bluff is neat for photo ops too.
 
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