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An Urban Biography

Author Tom Weber

Minnesota Historical Society Press (June 1, 2020)

A concise history, featuring stories that are familiar, surprising, and sure to change the way you see the City of Lakes.


Minneapolis is Minneapolis because of the water—because of the Mississippi River, and St. Anthony Falls, and the beautiful lakes that dot the city’s neighborhoods. Energized by the power of a magnificent waterfall, it became a major, even global, city.

In this succinct and thought-provoking book, Tom Weber provides a biography of the City of Lakes, starting with Bdote, the confluence of the Mississippi and the Minnesota River and a sacred place for Dakota people, who have lived here for millennia. Since the city’s beginnings in the 1850s, Minneapolis has experienced continual collapses and rebuilding. Some collapses were real, as when the falls were nearly destroyed; some are metaphorical, as when corruption and the mob threatened to overtake the life of the city. Taking readers to specific places on the Mississippi, Weber highlights stories of immigrants, milling, the American Indian Movement, the KKK, the university, business innovators, the vibrant arts and music scene, powerful sports teams, and a wealth of other topics.

The serenity of Minneapolis’s beautiful waters underlies the tumultuous, contentious striving that has built the city. This book tells the story of its residents, living their history in the balance.

Author information

Tom Weber, an award-winning writer, journalist, and radio host, is the author of 100 Things to Do in the Twin Cities Before You Die. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Reviews and news



Sahan Journal (excerpt)


Minneapolis Foundation: The Evolution of Minneapolis

Sun Sailor

The Gist with Mike Pesca

City Pages (excerpt)

Advance Praise:

“I was taught that to know who we are, we need to know WHERE we are. Too many books treat Indigenous presence as a prelude that ends when white people arrive. Tom Weber’s book starts with the Indigenous and builds a complex, truer story of Bde Ota Otuŋwe (Minneapolis). This tapestry of people, strikes, championships, immigration, renewal, disasters, and triumphs provides a fascinating read about WHERE we are.”
Mona Smith (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota), Allies: media/art

“Tom Weber unmasks a history of duplicitous relationships and policies that formed the wretched underbelly beneath the glory of Minneapolis. He does what many choose not to do: look at and connect the decisions that continue to maintain shameful race-based inequality.”
Al McFarlane, editor in chief, Insight News

“Tom Weber provides a fresh, inclusive, and timely look at the people and events that continue to shape Minneapolis. Playing with chronology, he artfully melds often-told stories with lesser-known ones. This book helps us understand the paradox of a proud city with a sterling reputation that nevertheless struggles with basic issues of equity for its citizens.”
John Crippen, executive director, Hennepin History Museum

Videos: book talks with Tom Weber

  • This title is also available at your favorite e-book vendor.
  • 224 pages
  • 50 b&w photos
  • 6 x 9 inches
  • ISBN: 9781681342603

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