Useful Notes: Twin Cities


St. Paul
"Hey, look at that. Twin Cities. That's the IDS Building, the big glass one. Tallest skyscraper in the Midwest - after the uh, Sears, in, uh, Chicago, or John Hancock Building, whatever."

Minneapolis and Saint Paul are the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Minneapolis is the most populous city in the state and situated on the west bank of the Mississippi River, while state capital St. Paul sits right across the river on the east bank and is the second-largest city. Minneapolis is the county seat of Hennepin County while St. Paul is the seat of Ramsey County. This is mildly important for people who live there.

Minneapolis and St. Paul, and many of their suburbs, are known as "The Cities" by inhabitants of Minnesota and neighboring states. Minneapolis and St. Paul essentially function as one large metropolitan area, hence the name "Twin Cities". However, residents are trying to move away from this image and promote each city separately. St. Paul is slightly smaller and viewed as very friendly, clean, blue-collar, and family-oriented. Minneapolis is younger and trendier, and contains more of the Cities' art scene. Despite the differences, the Cities do function as one metro area.

Despite the Twin Cities' reputation for dowdy Midwesternness, the area has the largest Hmong and Somali populations in the United States, but you never seem to see them on TV. It is the 12th largest media market, has the second-most theatre seats per capita of any metro area in the country, ranks eighth on the list of metropolitan areas with the largest percentage of GLBT residents (with Minneapolis itself in fourth on the list of top cities, by percent), and is one of the five main concentrations of neopagans in the US (the others being San Francisco, New Orleans, New York City, and Salem, Massachusetts), leading to the nickname "Paganistan". But again, not something you'd hear every day.

Perhaps its most famous landmark is the Mall of America in the suburb of Bloomington, the second-largest indoor mall in the US and the most visited mall in the world. The mall's popularity is helped by only being a couple of miles away from Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport, and just a few stops away by light rail, so it is not at all uncommon for people to fly in just to go shopping.

Many musicians are from or got their start there, including Prince and his associates, Bob Dylan, The Replacements, Soul Asylum, and Hüsker Dü. A number of Speculative Fiction authors also live in or near the Twin Cities, including Neil Gaiman, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Patricia C. Wrede.

In fiction:

  • Much of Fargo actually takes place in the Twin Cities. Very little actually happens in Fargo, and although the murders that set the main action off occur in Brainerd, most of the interesting stuff happens in Minneapolis.
  • Jingle All the Way
    • Just for the record, herds of wild caribou do not roam the suburbs....
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show. To this day, the corner where Mary tosses her hat in the opening has a statue of MTM.
  • The Mighty Ducks (the live-action movies, not the cartoon). Each movie has a sequence designed to show off the sights, usually with our heroes in-line skating through them. /
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 originated on a UHF channel here.
    • There are a lot of Bilingual Bonus jokes for locals who get the references to local institutions.
  • Jack O'Neill of Stargate SG-1 was born here, and he maintains a cabin in the North Woods, near a lake that, until the season eight finale, didn't have any fish in it.
  • The early-nineties cult TV series Get a Life presumably takes place somewhere in the Twin Cities, as Chris Elliott's paperboy character is seen delivering copies of the Pioneer-Press (Saint Paul's local newspaper) during the opening credits.
  • Coach: While most of the cast lives near a fictional university, Christine lives in downtown Minneapolis.
    • At the time the show was on, living downtown in a high-rise as Christine is depicted was fairly unusual for someone of her presumed income. More likely she would have lived in a posh suburb.
    • The hunting/fishing/going to the cabin leisure activities of Coach and his staff are actually fairly believable.
  • Peanuts creator Charles Schulz was from St. Paul, and there are a few hints that Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang live here as well. You can also find 50 statues of the characters on the streets and in some of the public buildings.
  • Purple Rain is actually fairly accurate, given a bit of Television Geography. Not all that surprising, as the film is semi-autobiographical.
    • Lake Minnetonka is an actual lake that sprawls through several western suburbs of Minneapolis, including Minnetonka, Wayzata (which does not sound a thing like it's spelled), Minnetrista, Mound, and Shoreview.
      • The closest approximation of the pronunciation of Wayzata's name is "Why-zeh-ta."
  • A Prairie Home Companion is based in the Twin Cities, with most episodes being broadcast from the Fitzgerald Theatre in St. Paul or (less commonly) from Minneapolis, from the State Theatre (here on Hennepin Avenue), being distributed by Minnesota Public Radio. Some of the skits, particularly "Guy Noir", explicitly take place there.
  • Emma Bull's War for the Oaks makes spectacular use of Twin Cities locations. Another of her novels, Bone Dance, is also set there, although since it's an After the End story, it's easy to miss.
  • The Betsy the Vampire Queen books by Mary-Janice Davidson.
  • Wapsi Square takes its name from a fictitious Minneapolis neighborhood. Creator Paul "Pablo" Taylor is a Twin Cities resident himself, and there are occasional gags about the region's changeable climate.
  • Juno is set in St. Cloud, a satellite town about an hour's drive away from the Cities. The characters make many trips to the Cities.
  • The students from Survival of the Fittest Version 4 came from a fictional St. Paul high school.
  • X Middle School from Fillmore! is located in an unnamed suburb of the Twin Cities
  • The webcomic Alpha Shade takes place in the Twin Cities. (At least, the parts of the comic that don't take place in another world do.)
  • John Sandford's novels - the Prey, Kidd and Virgil Flowers series of novels by almost all take place in the Twin Cities - and the ones that don't prominently feature characters from the cities.
  • After Last Season. No, really.
  • Villain Protagonist of Young Adult resides in Minneapolis.