Minneapolis, nicknamed "City of Lakes" and the "Mill City", is the county seat of Hennepin County, the largest city in the state of Minnesota, and the 48th largest in the United States. Its name is attributed to the city's first schoolteacher, who combined mni, a Dakota Sioux word for water, and polis, the Greek word for city. As of the 2010 census, the estimated population of the city of Minneapolis is 382,578. Minneapolis lies on both banks of the Mississippi River, just north of the river's confluence with the Minnesota River, and adjoins Saint Paul, the state's capital. Known as the Twin Cities, Minneapolis-Saint Paul is the 16th-largest metropolitan area in the U.S., with approximately 3.3 million residents. The city is abundantly rich in water, with over twenty lakes and wetlands, the Mississippi river, creeks and waterfalls, many connected by parkways in the Chain of Lakes and the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. Among cities of similar densities, Minneapolis has the most dedicated parkland. It was once the World's flour milling capital and a hub for timber, and today is the primary business center between Chicago and Seattle, with Minneapolis proper containing the fifth highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies. It has cultural organizations that draw creative people and audiences to the city for theater, visual art, writing, and music. The community's diverse population has a long tradition of charitable support through progressive public social programs and VOLAGs, as well as private and corporate philanthropy.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul area is the third largest in the Midwest, behind Chicago and Detroit. The economy of Minneapolis today is based in commerce, finance, rail and trucking services, health care, and industry. Smaller components are in publishing, milling, food processing, graphic arts, insurance, education, and high technology. Industry produces metal and automotive products, chemical and agricultural products, electronics, computers, precision medical instruments and devices, plastics, and machinery. The city at one time produced farm implements.
Five Fortune 500 corporations make their headquarters within the city limits of Minneapolis: Target, U.S. Bancorp, Xcel Energy, Ameriprise Financial and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. As of 2009 the city's largest employers are Target, University of Minnesota, Allina Health, Fairview Health Services, Wells Fargo, Hennepin County, Ameriprise, Hennepin County Medical Center, U.S. Bancorp, City of Minneapolis, Xcel Energy, Capella Education Company, RBC Wealth Management, Macy's, TCF Financial, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Thrivent, and the Star Tribune. Foreign companies with U.S. offices in Minneapolis include Coloplast, RBC and ING Group. Availability of Wi-Fi, transportation solutions, medical trials, university research and development expenditures, advanced degrees held by the work force, and energy conservation are so far above the national average that in 2005, Popular Science named Minneapolis the "Top Tech City" in the U.S. The Twin Cities ranked the country's second best city in a 2006 Kiplinger's poll of Smart Places to Live and Minneapolis was one of the Seven Cool Cities for young professionals.
The Twin Cities contribute 63.8% of the gross state product of Minnesota. The area's $199.6 billion gross metropolitan product and its per capita personal income rank thirteenth in the U.S. Recovering from the nation's recession in 2000, personal income grew 3.8% in 2005, though it was behind the national average of 5%. The city returned to peak employment during the fourth quarter of that year.
Parks and recreation:
The Minneapolis park system has been called the best-designed, best-financed, and best-maintained in America. Foresight, donations and effort by community leaders enabled Horace Cleveland to create his finest landscape architecture, preserving geographical landmarks and linking them with boulevards and parkways. The city's Chain of Lakes, consisting of seven lakes and Minnehaha Creek, is connected by bike, running, and walking paths and used for swimming, fishing, picnics, boating, and ice skating. A parkway for cars, a bikeway for riders, and a walkway for pedestrians runs parallel along the 52 miles (84 km) route of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway.
Theodore Wirth is credited with the development of the parks system. Today, 16.6% of the city is parks and there are 770 square feet (72 m2) of parkland for each resident, ranked in 2008 as the most parkland per resident within cities of similar population densities.
Parks are interlinked in many places and the Mississippi National River And Recreation Area connects regional parks and visitor centers. The country's oldest public wildflower garden, the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary is located within Theodore Wirth Park. Wirth Park is shared with Golden Valley and is about 60% the size of Central Park in New York City. Site of the 53-foot (16 m) Minnehaha Falls, Minnehaha Park is one of the city's oldest and most popular parks, receiving over 500,000 visitors each year. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow named Hiawatha's wife Minnehaha for the Minneapolis waterfall in The Song of Hiawatha, a bestselling and often-parodied 19th century poem.
Minneapolis Public Schools enroll 36,370 students in public primary and secondary schools. The district administers about one hundred public schools including forty-five elementary schools, seven middle schools, seven high schools, eight special education schools, eight alternative schools, nineteen contract alternative schools, and five charter schools. With authority granted by the state legislature, the school board makes policy, selects the superintendent, and oversees the district's budget, curriculum, personnel, and facilities. Students speak ninety different languages at home and most school communications are printed in English, Hmong, Spanish, and Somali. About 44% of students in the Minneapolis Public School system graduate, which ranks the city the 6th worst out of the nation's 50 largest cities. Some students attend public schools in other school districts chosen by their families under Minnesota's open enrollment statute. Besides public schools, the city is home to more than twenty private schools and academies and about twenty additional charter schools.
Minneapolis' collegiate scene is dominated by the main campus of the University of Minnesota where more than 50,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students attend twenty colleges, schools, and institutes. The graduate school programs ranked highest in 2007 were counseling and personnel services, chemical engineering, psychology, macroeconomics, applied mathematics and non-profit management. A Big Ten school and home of the Golden Gophers, the U of M is the fourth largest campus in the U.S. in terms of enrollment. Augsburg College, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and North Central University are private four-year colleges. Minneapolis Community and Technical College, the private Dunwoody College of Technology, Globe University/Minnesota School of Business, and Art Institutes International Minnesota provide career training. St. Mary's University of Minnesota has a Twin Cities campus for its graduate and professional programs. Capella University, Minnesota School of Professional Psychology, and Walden University are headquartered in Minneapolis and some others including the public four-year Metropolitan State University and the private four-year University Of St. Thomas have campuses there.
Half of Minneapolis-Saint Paul residents work in the city where they live. Most residents drive cars but 60% of the 160,000 people working downtown commute by means other than a single person per auto. Alternative transportation is encouraged. The Metropolitan Council's Metro Transit, which operates the light rail system and most of the city's buses, provides free travel vouchers through the Guaranteed Ride Home program to allay fears that commuters might otherwise be occasionally stranded if, for example, they work late hours. On January 1, 2011, the city's limit of 343 taxis was lifted.
Minneapolis currently has one light rail and one commuter rail line. The Hiawatha Line LRT serves 34,000 riders daily and connects the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and Mall of America in Bloomington to downtown. Most of the line runs at surface level, although parts of the line run on elevated tracks (including the Franklin Ave. and Lake St./Midtown stations) and approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) of the line runs underground, including the Lindbergh terminal subway station at the airport. The 40-mile Northstar Commuter rail, which runs from Big Lake through the northern suburbs and terminates at the multi-modal transit station at Target Field, opened on November 16, 2009. It utilizes existing railroad tracks and will serve a projected 5,000 daily commuters.