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Useful Notes / Twin Cities

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Saint 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 (the most populous city in the state) is situated on the western bank of the Mississippi River, while Saint Paul (the state capital and its second-largest city) sits directly opposite on the eastern bank. Minneapolis is the county seat of Hennepin County, while Saint Paul is the seat of Ramsey County. This is mildly important for people who live there.

The two cities, and their surrounding suburbs, are collectively known as "The Cities" by inhabitants of Minnesota and neighboring states. They essentially function as one large metropolitan area, hence the name "Twin Cities". However, both cities have distinctive cultures and personalities. Saint Paul is slightly smaller and viewed as friendly, clean, blue-collar, and family-oriented. Minneapolis is younger and trendier, and contains more of the Cities' art scene. Despite these differences, the two Cities do function as a single metro area.

Despite the Twin Cities' reputation for dowdy Midwesternness, the area is actually quite diverse. It is home to the largest Hmong and Somali populations in the United States (though you never seem to see them on TV). It's the 14th-largest US media market, has the second-highest number of theatre seats per capita of any metro area in the country, ranks eighth on the list of metropolitan areas with the largest percentage of LGBT residents (with Minneapolis itself fourth on the list of top cities), and has one of the five biggest concentrations of neopagans in the US (the others being San Francisco, New Orleans, New York City, and Salem, Massachusetts), earning it 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. Major companies based in the area include industrial conglomerate 3M (their name is a shortened version of the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company), retailers Target (a spinoff of the now-defunct Minneapolis department store Dayton's) and Best Buy, UnitedHealthcare, and General Mills, among others.

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, Patricia C. Wrede, and screenwriter Diablo Cody.

Twin Cities residents eat a lot of ice cream, and outdoor cooking is also extremely popular. The region is also known for a particular form of cheeseburger with the cheese cooked into the middle of two patties that have been crimped together. It's called a Jucy Lucy (or Juicy Lucy) and after a long time of being the exclusive product of a pair of working-class South Minneapolis bars (the 5-8 Club and Matt's Bar), it's finally started to develop a nationwide reputation, one that was enhanced in 2014 when President Barack Obama visited Matt's for a burger.

Two of the four area teams in the "Big Four" leagues — the Twins and Vikings — have all of their division rivals in the Midwest, and the area's NHL team, the Wild, have two rivals in the Midwest, allowing these teams to develop intense divisional rivalries - indeed, both the NFC North and the NHL Central are referred to as "Black and Blue" divisions. Only the Timberwolves do not have any Midwestern division rivals, though some fans probably want their team moved into the Central Division, which might happen based on where the NBA places its next expansion teams. Due to the proximity of the two cities, teams are not referred to the city their stadium is in. While the Twins, Timberwolves and Vikings play in Minneapolis and the Wild play in St. Paul, they're called the "Minnesota (sports team)".

In fiction:

  • Drop Dead Gorgeous is partly set in fictional suburb Mount Rose, MN - a very close take on actual suburb Rosemount.
  • 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. The Sequel Series The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers also takes place in the Twin-Cities area.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 originated on a UHF channel here, KTMA-23 (currently known as WUCW).
    • There are a lot of jokes for locals who get the references to local institutions.
    • Circle Pines is a small suburb of Minneapolis, described by Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester in Seasons 7-10) as "Everytown, USA."
    • Osseo is a real city, a third-ring suburb of Minneapolis. There was never a Hot Fish Shop there, however — that restaurant was a landmark of Winona, approximately three hours away (and, ironically, closed the week before "Soultaker" aired).
  • 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.
  • Summer Games Done Quick from 2013 on is hosted in the Twin Cities area (excluding 2020 and 2021), and raises money for Doctors Without Borders.
  • Coach: While most of the cast lives near a fictional university (some years after the series ended, the real Mankato State University, whose proximity to Minneapolis would make it a plausible counterpart for Minnesota State, changed its name to Minnesota State University, Mankato - this was ridiculed at the time by students in the state university system), 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 (one-time home of the Minnetonka Metals Company, which became Tonka Toys), Wayzata (which does not sound a thing like it's spelled), Minnetrista, Mound, and Shoreview. (What is incorrectly in the film presumed to be Lake Minnetonka by Apollonia is actually a spot on the Minnesota River, which has places that are sufficiently slow and lazy in current to be mistaken for a lake.)
      • The closest approximation of the pronunciation of Wayzata's name is "Why-zeh-ta."
  • A Prairie Home Companion was 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 took 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 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 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.
  • The Villain Protagonist of Young Adult resides in Minneapolis.
  • Riley Anderson of Inside Out was born in either Minneapolis or St. Paul. Since the premise of the movie is Riley adjusting to her new life in San Francisco, we can never be sure.
  • In the Alternate History story The Falcon Cannot Hear, St. Paul serves as the capital of the Red Oak Pact, the coalition of democratic socialists and agrarian populists in the Second American Civil War. When the Red Oak Pact wins the war, St. Paul briefly becomes the capital of the entire United States, with President John Lewis even considering making this status permanent. However, his successor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, has it moved back to Washington, D.C..
  • Dear White People was filmed in Minneapolis.

Notable people from Minneapolis/St. Paul: