Minnesota Historical Society

Minneapolis in the Twentieth Century

$ 17.95

The Growth of an American City

Author Iric Nathanson

Minnesota Historical Society Press (November 15, 2009)

Flavored with contemporary newspaper quotations and illustrated with period images, this political history inspires greater understanding of a preeminent American city.


$17.95 paperback available September 2017

Today, Minneapolis is considered one of the most desirable places to live in the United States. However, like most cities, Minneapolis has its own checkered history.

Iric Nathanson shines a light in dark corners of the city's past, exploring corruption that existed between the police department and city hall, brutal suppression of Depression-era unions, and reports on anti-Semitism at midcentury. Still other subjects that on the surface seem disparaging offer the city's residents an opportunity to shine. Community leaders make a difference during the "long, hot summer" of 1967, when racial violence exploded across the country. Concerned neighbors guide transportation policy from more and bigger highways to forward-looking light rail transit. A forgotten riverfront is transformed into a magnet for people wishing to live and play at the site of the city's earliest successes.

Nathanson skillfully tells these stories and more, always with an eye toward how noteworthy characters, plotlines, and scenes helped create the Minneapolis we know today.

Author information

Irin Nathanson has written and lectured about local history for more than two decades. An instructor for the University of Minnesota's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, he has published essays in the Star Tribune, Minnesota History, and Hennepin History.

Reviews and news

In the media:

"It's a ripped-from-the-headlines story, breezing through a century of scandals, riots, hard-fought elections and civic improvement projects."
Star Tribune

Advance Praise:

“This is a compelling, honest story told by one of Minneapolis’s keenest observers.”
Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak

“Iric Nathanson has produced a fascinating, deeply researched history that reads like a novel. A story with myriad characters—crooks, community activists, politicians, and bureaucrats—it shows how a small, corrupt city became an honest, progressive urban center. Local readers will be at times uncomfortable with, at times triumphant concerning the city’s past, but ultimately they will be enlightened, for the moral of Nathanson’s story is that history is a never-ending process. Past events affect us still, and seemingly small, individual acts can have significant, long-term consequences.”
Arvonne Fraser, author of She’s No Lady: Politics, Family, and International Feminism

“Iric Nathanson has written a compelling and absorbing account of major events in the shaping of Minneapolis during the twentieth century. Ranging over fascinating topics from crime and criminality to urban reform and from anti-Semitism to labor liberation, the author keeps us informed and entertained. For the first time, such topics as the rediscovery of the riverfront and the struggle for mass transit are treated in a serious historical account of the Mill City.”
Hyman Berman, professor emeritus of history, University of Minnesota

  • This title is also available at your favorite e-book vendor.
  • 224 pages
  • 40 b&w illustrations
  • 6 x 9 inches
  • ISBN: 9780873517256

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