Sunday, September 13, 2015

Twin Rivalry: When Minneapolis and St. Paul Battled over Population

As of the most recent U.S. census (2010), Minneapolis is home to about 380,000 people while St. Paul has about 285,000 residents. But Minneapolis wasn’t always so much larger than its twin. In 1860, just a few years after Minnesota became a state, St. Paul had 10,000 residents to Minneapolis’s 5,000. But in 1872, Minneapolis annexed the neighboring city of St. Anthony, and by the 1880 census, things were different. St. Paul had grown to 41,000 residents — it had quadrupled its population over the twenty-year period — but Minneapolis was growing faster. With nearly 47,000 people living there, Minneapolis was in the lead.

Suddenly, the supremacy of St. Paul — even though it was the state’s capital — was in question. Population was booming in the region and from 1880 to 1890 and both cities saw immense growth. Which of the Twin Cities had more people became a point of pride for residents of both, and both cities’ efforts to be the bigger twin involved attracting more residents. But instead of stopping there, both sides tried to manipulate the 1890 census.

How? By padding the vote totals and, to ensure that the other side didn’t do the same, by arresting the other side’s census takers.

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