50 Years of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine

Archives Archaeology

Two editors, 50 years of back issues, and just under two weeks to figure out what it all means. 

Sifting through boxes and boxes and boxes of magazines here and there over two weeks made two things abundantly clear: First, that generally as an institution, we probably should have been a little more careful about just tossing the only complete record of this magazine’s existence into deteriorating cardboard magazine boxes. (Why does half of 1976 look like it’s been submerged in a pool?!) And second, that two weeks is definitely not enough time to properly ride this time machine.

But that’s the catch-22 of editing a city magazine: Time flies, and while you can’t stop it every month, it’s your job to try. At a magazine of our size, time, or the lack thereof, is a particularly irritating stumbling block that tosses our best intentions round and round and turns them inside out every month. As editors, we intend to slow things down and find the space to do necessary things, like cataloging and storing our magazine’s only physical assets or, like, giving ourselves the appropriate time to explore said assets for an issue for which we’ve had 50 years to prepare.

From the moment founding publisher Jim Roberts sent the first issue of Zibeta to the printer in 1972 to the moment he realized nobody knew what the hell a zibeta was and changed it to MPLS., to the moment we became Mpls.St.Paul when someone reminded us that St. Paul existed (and was actually pretty neat), we’ve just been trying to keep up with this thing for one more issue, and then one more, and then one more. And while we’ve been doing that, our primary subject, the Twin Cities, has only sped up.

Since we began this sprint, Alan Page went from Purple People Eater to Minnesota Supreme Court justice to the guy who plays the sousaphone on the sidelines of the Twin Cities Marathon and has schools named after him. The Metrodome came, collapsed (multiple times!), and went. Prince went from being some plucky Bryant Junior High Schooler to being one of the world’s singular icons, made even more so in death. Since we started telling these stories, seemingly eternal Twin Cities media institutions like Pat Miles and Don Shelby have begun and ended entire careers, as have politicians from Mark Dayton to Michele Bachmann. Bridges collapsed and were rebuilt, racial reckonings dawned and then dawned again, political pendulums swung decisively one way and then back the other. Next-big-chefs blossomed into actually-big-chefs before quitting cooking altogether. And beloved Minnesota sports teams reached pinnacles while others simply left.

And all along, the storytellers changed, sometimes becoming the stories themselves. R. T. Rybak wrote about chicken wings, then stared out from our pages at the beginning and end of his time as Mr. Mayor. A young and not-yet-crabby Joe Soucheray took stock of the 1978 disco scene. Claude Peck helped us understand gay culture and the Mall of America as both made claims on the local scene. Andrew Zimmern focused his gaze within these pages before turning it to the world. And Beth Dooley reviewed local eateries before earning national honors for her work on a book on Indigenous cooking.

It is hard to appreciate that all these narrative arcs happened entirely within the scope of this magazine’s lifetime until you pore over the archives. In 1985, we introduced you to a pair of quirky brothers from St. Louis Park, the Coens, whose indie flick Blood Simple showed potential. In 1981, we told our readers how that Leeann Chin lady might really be onto something. Heck, in the mid-1990s, we even introduced you to a guy who, even then, could be kind of a downer: Michael Osterholm. And pretty much once every three years since 1972, we’ve ruminated about Uptown being at a crossroads and questioned if downtown might be dead or dying.

Even spending a mere handful of days immersed in all that via our 600 total issues—made up of more than 150,000 pages, which include 72,000 pages of editorial and their 60,000,000-ish total words—it’s clear that our job as a magazine is and always has been to grab whatever we could of the Minnesota moments that mattered most and slow them down for our readers. To trap them in suspended animation between our front and back covers.

And with all those important moments to freeze and ponder, it’s no wonder we haven’t been able to freeze the time necessary to organize our bookshelves or fully appreciate what’s on them. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get there by the time we’re 100. Meanwhile, enjoy browsing the stacks—we sure did. 

—Editors Drew Wood and Stephanie March

A Timeline of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine

Here’s what you need to know about how this magazine became this magazine. Read More

The 1970s

What a groovy time to launch a city magazine. We spent a lot of time talking politics and media—it was the era of Mary Tyler Moore, after all. Women were assuming roles of power where they hadn’t before, Hennepin Avenue was grappling with its sometimes seedy identity, and still both discos and Bob Dylan captured our attention. Big steak houses were the norm, and the dive bars we love today were just taverns around town. And the Vikings? They went to the Super Bowl. Four times.

News Moments

  • Greyhound bus depot–turned–music venue First Avenue opens in 1970.
  • Wendell Richard “Wendy” Anderson is elected the 33rd governor of Minnesota in 1970.
  • The Walker Art Center, as most of us know it, debuts its new Edward Larrabee Barnes–designed building in 1971.
  • Michael McConnell and Jack Baker become the first legally married same-sex couple in the United States in 1971.
  • IDS Center opens in Minneapolis in 1972.
  • The Vikings appear in four Super Bowls (’70, ’74, ’75, ’77)— losing each time.
  • Voyageurs National Park becomes Minnesota’s first and only national park in 1975.
  • The winter of 1978–79 is one of the harshest on record, with 52.9 inches of snow and an average temperature at a record low of 14.1 degrees.

Breaking News

Pat Miles, legendary television and radio journalist at WCCO and KARE 11, who has appeared several times in our pages over the years, reflects on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and life in a real Minneapolis newsroom. Read More

Big Stories

Deep reporting, hot takes, and perspectives from local writers on what our cities were talking about in the 1970s. 

“The Piper Papers”

by Larry Lindsay, April 1973

The kidnapping of Virginia Piper: “The one million dollar ransom for the return of Virginia Piper, kidnapped wife of Harry C. Piper, is the largest ever given in the United States for a single person. But the Million Dollar Piper Case isn’t as closed as many may think. At times, more than 100 FBI agents have been involved in the case. Agents have consistently complained that something has always been amiss with the case, and other FBI agents have complained that other FBI business has not been getting proper attention.” Read More

“Between Two Worlds”

by Jose Barreiro, March 1974

Conversations with urban Indians: “‘When I first came out of the University, I thought I had it made,’ Ralph said. (Ralph has a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Southern California at Berkeley.) ‘Listen, I had my own clinic,’ he said. ‘I was making 55 thou a year. I was playing all those bullshit games, you see. And I was drinking. I drank a lot. The white society is rough and lonely. In those days I couldn’t face it any other way.’” Read More

“Power in Minneapolis”

by Steve Tweed, January 1975

Who is in power in the city: “A wide range of spokesmen—too many to quote in this space—told us they felt Minneapolis was a refreshingly clean and open city. They pointed with pride to lack of Watergate-type scandal in government…and candor among community leaders. They made this town sound like the only place in the world where you can’t fix a parking ticket.” Read More

“More, More & More Women”

by Deborah Miller and Lisa Henricksson, January 1979

The changing picture of local TV: “So where do we stand now, in the age of Farrah Fawcett-Majors? Well, the list of genuinely powerful women in local television reads something like the gay membership list of the Anita Bryant fan club. It’s only recently, with broad public acceptance of female newscasters, the ascent of a few women to key management positions and the subsequent hiring of more women in entry-level jobs, that the picture has begun to change.” Read More

“The New Immigrants”

by Cynthia Hill, November 1979

Hundreds of refugees building new lives in MN: “In this decade alone more than 4,000 Indochinese have resettled here, along with several hundred Soviet Jews, Ugandans and others. And as the number of refugees continues to swell in the wake of political upheaval—current estimates place the number of homeless persons worldwide at 10.5 million—more will begin new lives in Minnesota.” Read More

“Saturday Night on the Avenue” 

by Paul Shambroom, December 1979

A slice of Hennepin before it changes: “Hennepin is an open-air marketplace with variety that Sears can’t come close to matching. Disaster films at the Skyway, Broadway hits at the Orpheum, the Sunday Times at Shinders, little bags of pot from the guy in the shadows next to the bar, or an hour’s company with a spike-heeled woman in an upstairs hotel room on the corner. So the city wants to open some new stalls in the marketplace. An arts center, a hotel….That’s okay. More feet on the pavement, more hearts beating, more energy—that’s what makes the street go, after all.” Read More


Following the threads of Twin Cities life through 50 years.

Now: Well into his 90s, Stan Hubbard may have handed most (but not all) of the reins to daughter Ginny Morris, but he’s still the most colorful personality in local news.

Then: “Oh, there are the whoops of recognition that the legend lives: ‘He’s colorful all right!’ The tantalizing titters of hesitation as sources, one after another, sort mentally through their catalogue of Hubbard eccentricities and finally declare them all unprintable; the provocative and un-enumerated rumors of his standing on top of his desk, hockey stick in hand, addressing the puck, or riding a bicycle around the third floor of the KSTP building.” May 1975

Now: While there might be a whole lot more than one farmers’ market in Minneapolis nowadays, that first one is still pretty much the best.

Then: “Such is the ‘One and Only Minneapolis Farmer’s Market,’ (of today), which is son of the son of the son of the city’s first marketplace for farmers, established a hundred years ago. Changing times have rearranged the face and the place of the market, over and over, but its soul remains resplendent, smiling and all the wiser, the oldtimers say. A trip to the market isn’t a step into centuries past, but rather a mixture of old and new—vegetables, processes and people.” May 1977

Now: Everything old is new again, and dim sum is so hot right now.

Then: “Perhaps best described as a sort of Chinese smorgasbord, a dim sum meal typically offers a well-thought-out variety of tastes, textures and contrasts. In quest of the ever-elusive perfect combination, most chefs constantly change and rearrange their particular assortments of delicacies; certain dishes may come and go in just a few hours. It is this lack of structure—call it surprise—that helps make a dim sum brunch so enjoyable.” July 1978

Now: The Minnesota Zoo has played a major role in the way that our kids see the animals of the world—in their own habitats.

Then: “Minnesota Zoological Garden (MZG) when it opens mid-1977…the ‘new zoo,’ as many call it, will be far from typical. The only creatures in cages will be of the human variety, while the polar bears and wolf packs roam freely and the whales and otter swim where they please.” March 1976

Now: Even when they still had that new skyway smell, our downtown skyways were loathed as much as loved.

Then: “One Minneapolis journalist recently lauded the Twin Cities’ skyways—those glass-enclosed pedestrian walkways linking major buildings in both Minneapolis and St. Paul—as ‘the solution to surviving in the frozen northland.’ But there are disbelievers. ‘Decadent’ is the word given to them by one intrepid Twin Citian who adamantly forsakes the well-tempered aerial climes in favor of the ‘real’ ground-floor world outside. Even on the most bone-chilling days, he and a few other hearty souls travel a nearly barren Nicollet Mall as throngs of coatless pedestrians surge…[through] the second-story walkways and corridors.” April 1979

Now: There’s been a nuclear power plant barely 50 miles out of the Cities for nearly half a century—so far, so good?

Then: “A couple of days after Gov. Quie announced that Minnesota would take its chances with the three reactors it has, but no more, Flynn was in an expansive mood. He trudged across the yard where his dogs howled and chickens pecked and squawked, in a perfect agrarian mode in his red flannel shirt and fresh blue bib overalls. He shook hands with Wayne Zibble, a 28-year-old carpenter from across the river in Wisconsin, who had come to do some canvassing for an antinuclear power group called People for Safe Energy.” June 1979

Now: Alan Page, now famous for playing the sousaphone at recent TC Marathons, and his family have always been ready to race.

Then: “Behind Diane somewhere in the throng of females are Nina, 11, and Georgianna, 9, Alan’s daughters by his first marriage. It’s their first race and Diane is thrilled that she and the girls are competing together as a mother/daughter team. Alan and Diane’s children, Justin, 4, and Khamsin, about to turn 3, are on the sidelines today with a babysitter, cheering on their mom and stepsisters. This will be one of the last races for 35-year-old Diane before moving, in just two weeks, to Highland Park, Ill. The family has bought a townhouse there for a six-month stay while Alan plays his first full season with the Chicago Bears.” October 1979

The 1980s

Our cities were changing. While we laughed at our Scandihoovian heritage, we welcomed the influences of our new immigrant friends—especially when they opened restaurants and gave us cream cheese wontons as a treat. While we were known nationally for our chemical abuse treatment, we chased our own drug demons like everyone else. Local boy Al Franken was writing for SNL, Purple Rain had the country asking where First Ave was, and we proved yet again that we are not afraid to stand alone as the only state to pick Mondale/Ferraro for president. 

News Moments

  • Minnesota brothers Brennan and Scott Olson invent Rollerblades in 1980.
  • The North Stars play in the 1981 Stanley Cup.
  • Prince’s career-defining sixth album, Purple Rain, is released in 1984.
  • The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts opens in 1985.
  • The Twins win their first World Series in 1987.
  • The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden opens in 1988.
  • The Timberwolves join the NBA for the 1989–90 season.
  • In 1989, 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling is abducted along a rural road in St. Joseph.

Parting The Curtain

Lou Bellamy, founding artistic director of Penumbra Theatre, reflects on the theater’s early days dramatizing the Black experience in America and attracting young talent from all over the country—including aspiring playwright August Wilson. Read More

Big Stories

Deep reporting, hot takes, and perspectives from local writers on what our cities were talking about in the 1980s.

“Why Can’t Johnny’s Teacher Take It Anymore?”

by Dennis Schapiro, September 1980

Schoolteachers are underpaid and overstressed: “In Minnesota in 1978-79, 978 teachers voluntarily quit….To help Minneapolis teachers find new jobs, the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce has coordinated a ‘New Careers for Educators’ program for three years. For last March’s session…more than 900 showed up.…Public sentiment toward teachers has soured. Once the best educated citizens in their communities, teachers now work with parents who are as well educated and better paid.” Read More

“Seizing the Crown”

by Claude Peck, April 1989

Before Fox News, Gretchen Carlson vied for a different crown: “In person Miss America 1989… is warm and friendly….She’s got the time-tested beauty-queen smile style. Charming, however, is not a word to describe her. She doesn’t have the chatty TV magnetism of a Phyllis George.… Even when lounging at home in a sweat suit, sneakers and a diamond tennis bracelet, Carlson maintains eye contact that borders on high-intensity. This is a woman with an edge.” Read More

“Whatever Happened to the North Side’s Dream?”

by Howard L. Shapiro, September 1984

Minneapolis’s North Side nearly 20 years after the race riots: “Tens of millions of dollars in government and private monies have been poured into this neighborhood for urban renewal, education, job training and other social services….But how much of a difference have these physical improvements made in the lives of the neighborhood’s residents? It appears that, along with the antipoverty programs of the past years, the improvements have passed by a sizable, predominantly black portion of the community. To these people Plymouth Avenue is a symbol of a failed promise, of what could have been.” Read More

“Coming Out”

by Claude Peck, May 1985

The rite of passage of gay coming-out stories: “Coming-out stories are the new gay folklore. Themes and variations are shared at parties, in counseling groups, with new lovers, in books and films and magazines. Partly out of practical necessity and partly because of natural curiosity, gay people like finding out where their friends are on the continuum that reaches from total closetry to complete overtness. In the telling, each delicious, painful, unnerving or humorous detail is recalled again and again.” Read More

“The Minnesota Maverick”

by Mark Axelrod, October 1980

Jeno Paulucci created the Jeno’s Pizza Rolls empire: “He’s a renegade, a maverick, a highly successful businessman, an impassioned Italian….He’s a household word across northern Minnesota—to some an expletive, to others the epitome of inspiration, hope and encouragement.…He doesn’t give a (expletive deleted) about phonies, fakes or facades whether they sit behind a thick-legged mahogany desk in an New York ad agency…or in a mayor’s pasteboard office in Silver Bay, Minn.” Read More

“Sniff Sniff Bang Bang”

by Bruce Rubenstein, November 1989

Cocaine and dangerous friends are the perfect ingredients for murder: “One casualty of paranoia is rational motivation. Police used to be able to count on love or money being behind 90 percent of the murders they encountered. No more. Unpaid drug bills might explain many drug-related deaths, but whims account for more of them. A misread gesture, a baseless rumor, a smart remark—any of these can lead to sudden, murderous violence. Cocaine, especially if it has been liberally adulterated with speed, a common recourse among dealers, leaves people twitching on the edge. Anything can happen.” Read More


Following the threads of Twin Cities life through 50 years.

Now: Art Song’s storied wings are still the main attraction at St. Paul’s Hickory Hut restaurant.

Then: “The wings, which leave a conspicuous pool of grease at the bottom of the tub, have a sweet aftertaste.…‘I have never been able to get the seasoning to go inside the chicken,’ Song says. ‘But if I had breasts, which have so much meat, every bite would not have the seasoning. Every bite would not be exciting. And with my wings every bite should have a little love in it.’” February 1981

Now: The owner of Birchbark Books is still one of America’s most interesting novelists 35 years later.

Then: “Louise Erdrich says she hasn’t written a word in the past two years without having a baby in her arms or in the room with her. For most people, this would mean that they simply hadn’t written a word, but during the past two years Erdrich has completed her second novel, The Beet Queen, worked on her third, Tracks, and helped husband Michael Dorris with his first novel, A Yellow Raft in Blue Water.…‘I feel so lucky to be finally doing it,’ she says, ‘rather than waitressing at the Country Kitchen.’” September 1986

Now: Supenn Harrison’s pioneering Sawatdee Thai restaurants still serve a mean pad Thai at any of her five locations.

Then: “Of the 50-plus entrees, a favorite was pork stir-fried with black pepper and garlic ($6.25). The piquant seasonings made for a superb dish.…Sticky rice ($3), a gruel made from rice, mung beans and a touch of coconut milk, is topped with either mango or durian. The latter, reportedly an aphrodisiac, is a pulpy Asian delicacy that unfortunately smells like rotting bananas and tastes like overripe cheese.” April 1984

Now: The St. Louis Park–born Coen brothers have made at least 30 films since Blood Simple. And we’re still counting.

Then: “There are still a few mavericks, and two of them have made a film, Blood Simple, that has raised as much enthusiasm as any debut in recent years.…Joel, 30, tall and shambling in blue jeans and shoulder-length hair, is a physical contrast to 27-year-old Ethan, who is shorter and more wiry. They are very close in their sensibility and have the same idea of what makes a good film. ‘We made a film with a grim storyline,’ Joel says, ‘but we wanted it to be anything but grim. Raucously good-natured is the quality we aimed for.’” February 1985

Now: Of course Southdale more or less invented the indoor shopping mall, and modern-day Edina wouldn’t exist as it does without it.

Then: “Southdale opened 25 years ago, amid speculation that it was too far from the city to attract shoppers.…The part of Edina where Southdale now stands was pretty lonely country when the Daytons got the idea to build. It was mostly woods and farmland, dotted with a few houses. Then came the announcement that the world’s largest shopping center under one roof would be built there.…The neighborhood now includes Southdale Library…Point of France condominiums…a flock of doctor’s offices, and Galleria, expensive specialty shops.” August 1981

Now: Leeann Chin found fame and fortune with her namesake fast-casual Chinese concept, but it was her namesake fine-dining restaurant in Minnetonka’s tony Bonaventure Mall that started it all.

Then: “The orientation (no pun intended) is decidedly Midwest, so be forewarned that the seasoning is, by intention, on the bland side. Leeann Chin, the restaurant’s namesake and proprietress, makes the daily selections and presides over the kitchen. As one of the Twin Cities’ leading teachers and caterers of Chinese cuisine for many years, Chin has developed an understanding of local preferences and has modified her recipes accordingly. The various creations sampled during our two reviewing sessions gave ample testimony to her expertise.” March 1981

Now: The most prolific music producers ever to call Minnesota home, James “Jimmy Jam” Harris III and Terry Lewis were called home to produce the epic outdoor concerts—they called them “Coldchella”—for Super Bowl LII.

Then: “Smalltime Flyte Tyme isn’t. Yet the flurry of attention that’s greeted its breakthrough to the pop charts is misleading in its own right. Harris, 27, and Lewis, 30, have been at work for more than three years, producing hit after hit on the soul and R & B charts for artists including Cherrelle, Alexander O’Neal, the SOS Band and the Force MDs. Ironically, their own hometown—where the airwaves are still dominated by white pop and album-oriented rock—has been one of the slowest markets in the country to play their records.” November 1986

Now: And here we were thinking we had a lot of ways to find and buy music in 2022.

Then: “Buying music is like buying undergarments: As a shopper, you like to have some privacy and a helpful clerk ready for advice, but be left to yourself to make the final choice. Now, buying in the McDonald’s of recordland—the shopping-center chain stores—may seem fairly easy, but buying in independent stores can be quite an adventure.…Twenty years ago you simply chose between a long-playing album or a single containing two songs. Today there’s much more diversity in the way you can buy music. LPs and singles still abound, but cassettes and CDs offer better sound quality and make your choices complicated.” May 1987

The 1990s

In the decade ambling toward Y2K (which did not implode like our Utne Reader warned), we embraced the Twins, with Homer Hanky flying, and the Saints equally, and we partied like it was 1999. Wellstone had our hearts and our hopes, even while “Murderapolis” became one of our nicknames. We elected a wrestler to lead the state, helped build the internet, and figured out that we should just let the chefs cook what they want. Aveda was in, cigarettes were out, and the alt-weekly Twin Cities Reader bit the dust just as the Minneapolis Sound started to diverge. 

News Moments

  • Kirby Puckett’s historic home run powers the Twins to win the World Series in 1991.
  • The Halloween Blizzard haunts the Twin Cities in 1991, dumping nearly 30 inches of snow.
  • Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train” wins a Grammy for Best Rock Song in 1994.
  • The Frank Gehry–designed Weisman Museum opens in 1993 on the University of Minnesota’s campus.
  • Bill Murray brings the St. Paul Saints franchise back in 1993.
  • The North Stars franchise moves to Dallas in 1993.
  • The Coen Bros release crime film Fargo in 1996, don’t cha know.
  • Former professional wrestler Jesse “The Body” Ventura is elected governor of Minnesota in 1998.

Let Chefs Rule

Steven Brown, chef/owner of Tilia and St. Genevieve and an iconic part of our local food culture, talks about creating a new life on the line and chefs breaking free in the ’90s. Read More

Big Stories

Deep reporting, hot takes, and perspectives from local writers on what our cities were talking about in the 1990s. 

“Her Honor”

by David Brauer, March 1994

Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton: “Yet here it was, election night, and just in time for the 10 o’clock news Sayles Belton took the stage. Without waiting for opponent John Derus to concede, the 42-year-old Sayles Belton—ridiculed as an uninspiring, play-it-safe front-runner, a politician who used consensus as a crutch to avoid putting herself on the line—savored a moment of unshared glory. ‘The voters have spoken,’ she roared, ‘and they said SHARON!’” Read More

“Skip’s Big Adventure”

by William Souder, February 1997

Big Tobacco lost to Skip Humphrey: “‘He’s the genuine article. And I think he’s motivated in this by the opportunity to do the right thing. He sees major companies violating the laws of the state….They’re killing our citizens and recruiting our youth….He has a very pronounced sense of obligation and responsibility to the people of Minnesota. I think he carries that as his father’s legacy. He feels it himself, deeply.’” —Michael Ciresi, partner at Robins Kaplan. Read More

“AIDS: A Time for Anger”

by Claude Peck, June 1990

The Twin Cities still in the grips of the AIDS crisis: “Now, in year nine of AIDS, we are far from innocence. The fight against the deadly epidemic often has been inhibited by homophobia, racism, guilt, shame, misinformation, denial and lack of leadership. Many people have done much good: Brockway would scarcely recognize the Minnesota AIDS Project, with its 600 volunteers and $2.4 million 1990 budget. But the majority of us have pushed the problem beyond arm’s reach, contributing to what one frustrated commentator has termed passive genocide.” Read More

“Mother of all Malls”

by Claude Peck, December 1993

Twenty-four hours at the Mall of America: “‘I took a photo for a family and then talked to them, and they were from Singapore. I was born in southern Minnesota in a tiny town you’ve never heard of, and I lived in Bloomington for 23 years. My wife worked for the Twins back when they were at the old Met Stadium [on which site the mall was built]. The mall is great. There’s nothing like it. I can’t believe they built it just five minutes from where I live, and people come from all over to go there. In the first three months it opened I missed just four days here. Now I come here only three to four days per week.’” —Les Knudsen, retiree. Read More

“Scars of Scott County”

by Britt Robson, March 1991

The false-memory sex abuse scandal that ruined lives: “‘The only reason I said anything is that they would say, If you want to get home, you’ve got to tell us that your mom and dad molested you, or else you’ll never see your parents again.’…Billy [Bentz] also testified that he first incriminated his parents in response to questions from his foster parents.” Read More

“Who Is This Guy?”

by William Souder, September 1996

Paul Wellstone doesn’t act like a politician: “Here he comes, Minnesota’s senior senator, humping up the hill to the Capitol. He could have come over on the private Senate subway to spare his ruined knees, but Washington, D.C., this morning is basking in the perfect spring weather of mid-May, and Paul David Wellstone is taking in the air.…Short but sturdy, Wellstone bulls along, a stiff right leg intermittently akimbo, so that he rolls slightly from side to side like a sailor navigating a pitching deck.” Read More


Following the threads of Twin Cities life through 50 years.

Now: There would be no North Loop if the first old warehouses a few blocks south didn’t start flipping into hot spots in the ’90s.

Then: “7 a.m.: The hiss of the espresso machine heralds the start of another frenetic Friday at the New French Café, where the staff is still slicing baguettes into baskets, replenishing pots of strawberry jam and breaking apart bulbous clusters of red grapes.” November 1991

Now: The coffeehouse of Gen X from the start.

Then: “Caribou is an adventure, a fantasy, a mission impossible, a love story that began when a pair of bright-eyed newlyweds climbed a mountain, saw a herd of caribou passing below, and had this vision: a chain of coffeehouses that would restore a sense of community to a lost generation. Starbucks with soul, coast to coast….The Pucketts send a compelling message both inside and outside the company, one that Generation X doesn’t often get to hear: We’re all in this together.” December 1997

Now: Never been so happy to only get one out of three.

Then: “Once again, Mike Osterholm is scaring the hell out of everybody.…He predicts a second wave of AIDS, a plague outbreak in Japan, and an influenza pandemic in China.” December 1998

Now: Recently added to the National Native American Hall of Fame, Famous Dave isn’t about to slow down.

Then: “Adulthood took Anderson in many directions outside the kitchen: into bankruptcy as a wholesale florist; to his mother’s tribe, the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa in Wisconsin, to run its businesses; to Harvard for a master’s in public administration sans an undergrad degree in anything. Through it all, his barbecue bent burned on, even in 1989, when he helped form Grand Casinos and later the Rainforest Cafe in Minnesota.” March 1998

Now: Suddenly it’s the last standing movie theater in Uptown.

Then: “The Lagoon Cinema is the most significant cultural development to hit town since Tyrone Guthrie built across from Loring Park back in the ’60s. Electric trees are only a small part of it….The auditoriums are raked at the steepest legally permitted angle for unimpeded sight-lines, and the wider-than-normal seats are the most comfortable in town.” June 1995

Now: The great concerns over Indian gaming never seemed to stop the crowds.

Then: “It is the Fourth of July at Jackpot Junction, and somewhere that celluloid Injun fighter John Wayne is spinning in his grave. For on the 215th anniversary of the white man’s Declaration of Independence, poetic justice is being served at this Indian-owned casino, and it’s as subtle as a one-armed bandit.” November 1991

Now: It’s hard to imagine a time when girls’ hockey wasn’t a legitimate high school sport.

Then: “Female hockey was never seen as the real thing, as more than a pleasant diversion for the participants and an all-but-invisible activity to everyone else. But when the girls from Apple Valley defeated South St. Paul last February in the first-ever state high-school tournament for girls, it was as if a pond frozen on one side of the gender line had suddenly thawed overnight.” December 1995

The 2000s

In our fresh new millennium, chef culture was hot, and Tim McKee brought us our first James Beard Award. As a region obsessed with weather, we began to talk seriously about climate change just as biking culture started to take grip. The towers collapsed, then a bridge collapsed, but the light rail worked. With the recession came the scrappy DIY generation, which bloomed into food trucks, makers, and a national infatuation with our boots from Red Wing.

News Moments

  • Xcel Energy Center opens its doors in 2000 in St. Paul, when the new NHL franchise Minnesota Wild makes its debut.
  • Dayton’s department store closes and gets a new name, Marshall Field’s, in 2001.
  • United States Senator Paul Wellstone is killed in a plane crash in 2002.   
  • In 2006, a new Minneapolis Central Library, designed by César Pelli, opens.
  • Jean Nouvel’s Guthrie Theater is completed in 2006.
  • Andrew Zimmern launches the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods  in 2006.
  • Formerly of KARE 11, Frank Vascellaro joins WCCO-TV in 2006 as co-anchor with Amelia Santaniello (who started in ’96.) The married duo begin their co anchor (and gala hosting) reign.
  • Keith Ellison is the first Muslim elected to Congress in 2007.

Rise of the Bullseye

Michael Francis was Target’s chief marketing officer during the hometown retailer’s meteoric rise from local discounter to national trendsetter. The branding guru reflects on the heady days of the early aughts. Read More

Big Stories

Deep reporting, hot takes, and perspectives from local writers on what our cities were talking about in the 2000s.

“Franken for Senate”

by William Swanson, January 2006

Al Franken runs against Norm Coleman: “Calling Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and the Fox Network prevaricating cretins has done wonders for Franken’s visibility and bank account, but no one who knows the man has the slightest doubt that he’s a true believer in the progressive cause. He has been thinking about the 2008 Senate race since 2002, when Wellstone’s plane went down in a Minnesota forest and Norm Coleman defeated Walter Mondale, Wellstone’s eleventh-hour replacement, following what Franken believes was the Republicans’ criminally cynical exploitation of the controversial Wellstone memorial service.” Read More

“The Drug That’s ‘Not Nice Enough to Just Kill You’”

by Kermit Pattison, February 2006

Methamphetamines sweep through the suburbs: “Meth has developed an allure as an appetite suppressant nicknamed the ‘Jenny Crank diet.’ ‘We’re starting to see a lot of young girls get hooked on meth,’ says Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar. ‘They think they can lose weight. Maybe they can, but they also lose their teeth and their mind.’” Read More

“13 Days”

by William Swanson, April 2003

The two weeks between Senator Paul Wellstone’s death and the election: “Players in the most extraordinary thirteen days in modern Minnesota history have trouble making sense of the events that began that gray October morning. They use terms such as surreal, incredible, and unbelievable, then admit that the language can’t do the experience justice. Nor are there words commensurate with their emotions. And, of course, the plane crash was only the beginning, the first of several startling developments, upsets, and turnarounds that concluded with Norm Coleman’s election to Wellstone’s seat November 5.” Read More

“The Day They Died”

by Erin Gulden and William Swanson, December 2007

The 35W bridge collapse: “Peter Hausmann’s southbound Town & Country dropped into the river. His autopsy revealed a broken shoulder and fractured rib, possibly from debris falling on top of him. At least one witness reportedly saw Hausmann out of his van and reaching into another stricken vehicle in the water, attempting to rescue a child. Helen Hausmann hasn’t spoken to the witness, but has no doubt that the report about her husband is true. ‘That’s who he was,’ she says softly.” Read More

“Forecast 2035: Heat Storm”

by Paul Douglas, August 2005

Creative nonfiction set 30 years into our climate-changed future: “Camp Snoopy is now home to the Minnesota Wilderness Refuge, a collection of plants, animals, and trees such as the birch and the pine gone or threatened by accelerating climate change….At the trout-fishing tank, it is standing room only. Visitors can stroll through a perfectly re-created two-acre parcel of wetland and pond, complete with authentic singing loons.” Read More

“Big Man On (and Off) Campus”

by William Swanson, February 2001

University of Minnesota surgeon Dr. John Najarian: “At the venerable age of seventy-three John Najarian still seems to dwarf his surroundings. His critics say he’s too big for his britches. He certainly seems too big for his lab coat, which he mercifully wears unbuttoned, and too big for his current office, which is in fact smaller than the office he occupied last time I spoke with him face to face, before his employer and his government tried to cut him off at the knees.” Read More


Following the threads of Twin Cities life through 50 years.

Now: Bob Dylan’s most successful album, Blood on the Tracks, was recorded at Columbia Records in New York City. That is, until it wasn’t.

Then: “On New Year’s Day 1975, David Zimmerman, Paul Martinson, and Bob Dylan began work on mix-downs for the master tapes in the Studio A control room. Paul set up the equipment for a major overhaul of the basic tracks, but halfway through ‘Tangled Up in Blue,’ Dylan said, ‘I don’t really like this. I want it to sound like this.’ He handed Paul the live-session tape he’d been given at the end of our Friday night effort. And, with the exception of ‘Idiot Wind,’ all the work done in Minneapolis was turned in to Columbia Records for mastering in unvarnished, bare-bones, session-dub format.” March 2001

Now: Turns out God’s plan for Harris Faulkner did indeed include the anchor desk—the one located at Fox News.

Then: “But Harris Faulkner is one of the most uniquely experienced, mature, and substantive people to hit local TV news in a long time. Her sober, principled approach holds the potential to restore some long-lost credibility to a branch of journalism few journalists take seriously anymore….While Faulkner, true to form, certainly wants KSTP’s top job, she says she ‘will work with what God’s plan is for me.’” November 2002

Now: Though no longer in business together, Josh Thoma and Tim McKee’s influence on today’s restaurants is untouchable, but it’s thanks to Jay Sparks.

Then: “If they could credit their success to a single source, both point to their years working with Jay Sparks in the 1990s at the much lamented and lost D’Amico & Partners restaurant Azur….‘We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Jay,’ says Thoma of his time at the legendary venture in Gaviidae Common. McKee interjects that, ‘before Jay, we were just cooks. Jay’s passion, curiosity, and determination to get it right inspired us all. We’d go off to research cultures and cuisines, hit the library, share cookbooks, then come back and talk with each other.’” March 2009

Now: Fast-forward nearly 15 years and the mystery of Dave Ryan’s staying power in youth culture grows ever more mystifying—and impressive.

Then: “Dave admits that his longevity contributes to the occasional awkward encounter. ‘It can get a little weird,’ he says. ‘A gorgeous 25-year-old will come up to me at an event and say, I’ve been listening to you since I was in fifth grade! It’s great. It’s flattering. But it’s weird.’ At 46, Dave Ryan is old enough to be a father figure to most of the women in his largest demographic. And he doesn’t hide the ways in which he’s out of touch with his audience.” June 2009

Now: Dessa helped usher in a new era of the Minneapolis Sound, and she did it with a thesaurus.

Then: “While the language used by most rappers is an affront to grammarians (if not an outright assault), Dessa practices a crisp formal knowledge of linguistics in the McNally Smith classroom. Either standing at a whiteboard or an overhead projector or crouching down in the center of the room and gesturing enthusiastically, she leads lessons addressing the importance of pronoun and tense in song craft, the difference between connotative and denotative meaning, and the ability of metaphor and simile to dramatically shift a listener’s perspective.” February 2009

Now: Chad Hartman has had a great career at WCCO Radio, but first he had to get out of the shadow of an even more prolific Hartman.

Then: “‘There are times when I don’t like the negativity they get into,’ Sid says. ‘People have enough negative stuff in their lives. But I’ll tell you one thing. That is a great show.’ Inasmuch as negativity is one of the few things Sid Hartman is really negative about, the assessment can be construed as a rave review. Which is as it should be. After all, the Chad of Chad and Barreiro is Chad Hartman, Sid’s one and only son….Being the son of someone prominent in your own field is hard. Being the son of Sid Hartman is harder still.” January 2001

Now: Tonight you can find David Fhima’s star power lighting up the old Forum space in Minneapolis.

Then: “Although [Andrew] Zimmern calls Louis XIII a step forward for Fhima, he still declines to rank it in the pantheon of food-first local restaurants with Alma, Auriga, Vincent, and La Belle Vie….‘Food is not the star at David Fhima’s restaurants,’ says Zimmern. ‘David is.’ Fhima is nonplussed by the analysis. Instead, he insists on a cook-off between himself and Zimmern. ‘Eh-ney-time, eh-ney-where, bud-ee,’ Fhima says, in an accent that is as thick as the jet-black curls that crown his head.” September 2004

Now: North Minneapolis political player Don Samuels is as mystifyingly enigmatic today as he was in 2007.

Then: “Don Samuels has more than a pulpit: He has a seat on the Minneapolis City Council representing its blackest precincts. While many in north Minneapolis and elsewhere see a combination of John McCain and Barack Obama—the Straight Talk Express leavened with the Audacity of Hope—others say Samuels is more like Al Sharpton in a mirror, a demagogue whose primary goal is to curry favor with whites. Even today, Ron Edwards, cochair of the Minneapolis Police Community Relations Council, says simply, ‘He has a problem with his affection for black people.’” February 2007

The 2010s

Our beloved Purple One took his leave. Some very thirsty folks made some noise, creating a booming craft beverage industry and legally changing our Sundays forever. We saw the rise to national prominence of both Michele Bachmann and Ilhan Omar while witnessing the new power of social media. Soccer came back. Gay marriage stood strong. The Metrodome did not (collapsing under snow). Co-working became a thing; so did electric scooters and Nice Ride bikes, and Lizzo showed up—but we’ll never let her leave. 

News Moments

  • In 2010, the Metrodome’s roof collapses before the Vikings-Giants game.
  • WCCO news anchor Don Shelby retires in 2010.
  • Target Field opens in 2010.
  • Philando Castile is fatally shot during a traffic stop by Falcon Heights police officer Jeronimo Yanez in 2016.
  • Prince is found dead at his Paisley Park estate in 2016.
  • The Lynx dominate the decade with four WNBA championship titles (’11, ’13, ’15, ’17).
  • Southwest LRT launches its Green Line extension in 2019.
  • Chef Ann Kim becomes our first female James Beard Award winner in 2019.

Embracing The Sound

Chan Poling, founder of pioneering 1980s Minneapolis synth-pop band The Suburbs, reflects on the legendary Minneapolis sound he helped create and, somewhat unexpectedly, helped revitalize and reinvent nearly four decades later. Read More

Big Stories

Deep reporting, hot takes, and perspectives from local writers on what our cities were talking about in the 2010s. 

“Panic in Bloom”

by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, October 2013

All the bees are dying: “Bees are not tweeting amusing little double-entendre-loaded jokes about sex, or hiding in a boat after a massacre, capturing the whole world’s attention. Which is too bad, really, because if bees were tweeting, they’d have a whole lot to say about sex and death. They’d even have a lot to say about full-fledged orgies encompassing massacres and ending in enslavement.” Read More

“The Exit Strategy”

by Elizabeth Foy Larsen, May 2018

Jason McLean, accused of sexual abuse, escapes to Mexico on the lam: “McLean was a skilled and playful actor who scored lead roles in many of the theater’s productions, including…Alice in Wonderland, a role that landed him on a 1982 cover of Smithsonian magazine. A former student remembers him bragging about how, on the day of the shoot, he applied makeup so that his nose would look like a penis in the photograph.” Read More

“Arne Carlson Is on a Mission to Let the Nation Know Tim Pawlenty Has Not Earned Your Vote to Be President”

by Christy DeSmith, July 2011

Local politics go national: “This is the story of the dispute between two former Republican governors, Arne Carlson and Tim Pawlenty…with 76-year-old Carlson playing the central role: mouthy protagonist. Convinced of Pawlenty’s danger to state and country, Carlson recently told a reporter from politico.com he would travel to Iowa and New Hampshire to spread his anti-Pawlenty message.… ‘What he did is wrong! People should say it’s wrong! And the fact that he’s a Republican doesn’t mean we should be silent!’” Read More

“The Agitator”

by Chris Clayton, May 2016

The rise of Nekima Levy-Pounds (now Nekima Levy Armstrong): “Levy-Pounds’ wide-ranging activism brings her power and access. In a given week she might play a support role after a race-related incident, work with her students to create policy change, and meet with Governor Mark Dayton about inequity in the state. With a foot on the pedal of racial tension in the Twin Cities, she has the ability to contextualize and create narrative. It’s a role she’s welcomed, tapping her background as an academic, policy wonk, and bomb-throwing orator.” Read More

“Drink Local”

by Stephanie March and Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, October 2016

The burgeoning liquor industry: “In the wake of Prohibition, we lost a lot of artful traditions in the alcoholic beverage world, where, for a long time, tight regulations meant that only a few large companies could afford to be successful….We now find ourselves at the dawn of a new era in libations that respects the art of the past while shaping it with innovative techniques of the present.” Read More


by Steve Marsh, January 2015

The ad agency put the TC on the map: “‘Vanity Fair actually did a three-page article about the tiny little pimple on the history of advertising, our little agency, because it was a bright flame that started off with a lot of hope and a lot of attention. We won a lot of pitches, and everyone thought, wow this was amazing, but we had the most public, the most horrible break up. We had five partners and we had five lawyers fighting over zip. Nobody trusted anybody else.’” —Rob White. Read More


Following the threads of Twin Cities life through 50 years.

Now: Only the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis would have fit Neel Kashkari—a different type of finance guy.

Then: “A Goldman Sachs-er turned embattled Assistant Secretary of the Treasury who oversaw the dispersal of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), Kashkari also spent time as an aerospace engineer, briefly became a hermit at a desolate cabin, and ran for governor of California. All before he was 42. Now he’s a local and one of the most interesting things to happen to the Minneapolis Fed since, well, forever.” January 2016

Now: Before he’d even changed the name to Spoon and Stable, Gavin Kaysen’s spot was already a hot property.

Then: “Everybody’s talking about Merchant….After becoming one of the most internationally regarded chefs, he’s returning to his hometown to open a place of his own—his first. It’s safe to say that no Minneapolis restaurant has been this hotly anticipated since Aquavit came to town in 1999.” November 2014

Now: Horst Rechelbacher left behind a legacy of healing that’s changing the way children in pain are treated: The Kiran Stordalen and Horst Rechelbacher Pediatric Pain, Palliative and Integrative Medicine Clinic.

Then: “‘The idea was to break the mold—satisfy all the requirements, but create a healing environment,’ [Paul]Udris says. ‘Horst was a very playful person. He was excited about the imagery, the fancifulness of it. The idea is to make it really fetching to distract people from what they’re primarily concerned with.’” November 2014

Now: Ilhan Omar, the first Somali woman elected to Congress, who beat Phyllis Kahn in the primary, is one of D.C.’s most notable figures.

Then: “We have a definition that someone is powerful because the people around them are empowered, and that people power was going to be more powerful than the political power that someone like representative Kahn has. We wanted to be able to make the campaign sort of accessible to everyone. We wanted everyone to be able to see themselves in our vision, in our hopes and dreams for this district and our state.” November 2016

Now: First Avenue might not be the oldest or the most glamorous, but clearly it is our most iconic venue.

Then: “There’s a rumor going around, of course. On nights like this, there are always rumors, but this one seems, somehow, less like a rumor and more like certainty: Prince is in the building, and he’s going to play. The band has heard it, though no one has seen him. And though no one has said anything at all to the audience, they’ve heard the rumor too, or they’ve felt it. He’s here. How could he not be? He ghosts this place; it’s his house.” April 2015

Now: It seems that Kirk Cousins will be with us for a while longer.

Then: “Cousins represents a paradox that way: an unusual everyman. In Hollywood terms, a Bill Pullman, maybe. In presidential terms, a Dwight D. Eisenhower—or, in honor of their shared state of Michigan, where they both went to school, maybe a Gerald Ford….This is the everyman that the Vikings offered $84 million in fully guaranteed money—a first-of-its-kind, paradigm-shifting contract.” August 2018

Now: The Sixth District and Michele Bachmann’s supporters were the future we didn’t know we were looking at.

Then: “The ‘Who cares about that stuff’ attitude has a lot of currency with the new Republican base, despite all its traditional demands for tax cuts and smaller government. The ‘who cares’ crowd has a unique affinity for a politician of Bachmann’s qualities, because it dismisses the dull, compromising work of normal political life and rewards being a siren warning of the apocalyptic wave.” February 2010

Now: Can a trust fund kid make good art? Seems so.

Then: “Another way to look at it—the way [Bill] Pohlad himself sees it—is that he’s spent the past 20 years pursuing his own definition of freedom: the ability to produce, distribute, and ultimately direct movies he likes. He’s not burning money, either; he’s earning it.” November 2010

The 2020s

We started with hindsight in 2020, and maybe that was a good thing: Looking back, taking stock, we had no idea about what was coming. We were all in it together, and still are. The pandemic, the lockdown, the murder, the uprising, the vaccines, the reckoning, the hope, the optimism. The fact is, it all boils down to the stories we tell.


News Moments

  • In 2020 First Ave’s Dayna Frank leads the effort prompting Congress to pass the $16 billion Save Our Stages bill.
  • Out-of-state artists are drawn to a park near George Floyd Square and create the “Say Their Names” cemetery in 2020.
  • The state Supreme Court rules in 2020 that the DNR has the authority to rename a popular city lake Bde Maka Ska.
  • This year MOA celebrates its 30th, proving the “Mega Mall” is still going—and growing.
  • The pandemic delays opening of The Dayton’s Project, which eventually opens The Departments at Dayton’s, a seasonal makers market, in 2021.
  • The state’s first pre-professional women’s soccer team, MN Aurora, plays its first game in May at TCO Stadium in Eagan.
  • In 2022, the Minneapolis Club begins a limited run of public dining, including access to the Charlie’s Cafe bar that had been in storage since 1982.
  • Four Seasons hotel welcomes guests in June to a block on Hennepin Ave. vacant since the demo of the Nicollet Hotel in 1991.

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