Minneapolis grew into a city in the mid-19th century with the arrival of immigrants from Scandinavia and became a commercial center with the taming on waterfalls on the Mississippi River to grind wheat and drive the timber trade. The milling industry was once the largest in America and General Mills was founded and is still headquartered, in a Minneapolis St. Paul suburb. After the decline of the local milling industry in the 1950s, Minneapolis refocused on becoming an economic hub rather than a production one.
The origin and growth of the city was spurred by the proximity of Fort Snelling, the first major United States military presence in the area, and by its location on Saint Anthony Falls, which provided power for sawmills and flour mills. Fort Snelling was established in 1819, at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, and soldiers began using the falls for waterpower.
The flour mills eventually became the dominant industry. This industrial development fueled the development of railroads and banks, as well as the foundation of the Minneapolis St. Paul Grain Exchange. As the city grew, the culture developed through its churches, arts institutions, the University of Minnesota, and a famous park system designed by Horace Cleveland and Theodore Wirth.
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