The Miracle of Minneapolis

Discuss anything urban that's pertinent to our understanding of the USA.
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/arc ... is/384975/

If the American dream has not quite shattered as the Millennial generation has come of age, it has certainly scattered. Living affordably and trying to climb higher than your parents did were once considered complementary ambitions. Today, young Americans increasingly have to choose one or the other—they can either settle in affordable but stagnant metros or live in economically vibrant cities whose housing prices eat much of their paychecks unless they hit it big.
...
Only three large metros where at least half the homes are within reach for young middle-class families also finish in the top 10 in the Harvard-Berkeley mobility study: Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, and Minneapolis–St. Paul. The last is particularly remarkable. The Minneapolis–St. Paul metro area is richer by median household income than Pittsburgh or Salt Lake City (or New York, or Chicago, or Los Angeles). Among residents under 35, the Twin Cities place in the top 10 for highest college-graduation rate, highest median earnings, and lowest poverty rate, according to the most recent census figures. And yet, according to the Center for Housing Policy, low-income families can rent a home and commute to work more affordably in Minneapolis–St. Paul than in all but one other major metro area (Washington, D.C.). Perhaps most impressive, the Twin Cities have the highest employment rate for 18-to-34-year-olds in the country.

What’s wrong with American cities? is a question that demographers and economists have debated for years. But maybe we should be looking to a luminary exception and asking the opposite question: What’s right with Minneapolis?


Nice in-depth piece about the rise of the Twin City areas. What are all your guys's thoughts?
My opinion is that people often praise Minneapolis as a prime example of a Midwest metro that does everything right, which is correct in many respects. What they fail to mention is that Minneapolis was never a heavy industrial city and demographically (in regards to race and socioeconomic dynamics) is an outlier amongst major Midwest metros. It's benefited greatly from being the anti-Cleveland, St. Louis, and Detroit, being whiter, richer, and more highly educated, which makes it a lot easier to get things done. Going forward, I would love to see St. Louis implement some Twin Cities strategies, but one has to ask if they would go over well in a much more polarized region.

Also, I've heard A LOT of bad things about MSP from African Americans, many from St. Louis. This recent article kinda confirms it.
http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2015 ... _study.php
I've posted elsewhere my thoughts on Minneapolis since I lived there as a kid and still have family up there.

-the entire state is homogeneous from a social and political point of view. There's not the Chicago vs. the rest of Illinois or Missouri vs Missourah battles.
-something can be said for having your state capital and main state university campus in the biggest city
-education is a priority: it's not a bad word or a waste of money. Their school years and school days are longer.
-tax rates are high, but it is reinvested. If anyone ever chooses to move don't be shocked to be property taxes on the same price house being double of Missouri.
^ All true. And you do pay a lot of property taxes, but you get a well-invested-in city in return.

^^Re that city pages article, CP has been on a downward spiral since '08 or so when the Strib took dead aim for it with Vita.MN. They are not a good source of information, and they make a huge demographic error - MPLS is only 17% black, not 40% - that makes me question the overall editorial accuracy of the piece.

I lived in buildings with black neighbors, and never noticed any b/w racial friction. I think there is racial friction between Somali/African blacks and southern blacks, which I think is mostly class based, as most of the Somalis I met had their sh*t together and didn't want to be lumped in with American blacks. I think there is also an element of not really liking southern culture at play in MN, also. They like their culture and don't want southerners of any color to mess it up.
Since I've gotten more and more frustrated with St. Louis, the Twin Cities are on my very short list of relocation possibilities.
It's hard to trade filet for pork steak.
dweebe wrote:
Since I've gotten more and more frustrated with St. Louis, the Twin Cities are on my very short list of relocation possibilities.


Not to be a total troll, but I'm just curious, what has you frustrated with St. Louis? What do you think the Twin Cities would provide that St. Louis doesn't?
wabash wrote:
dweebe wrote:
Since I've gotten more and more frustrated with St. Louis, the Twin Cities are on my very short list of relocation possibilities.


Not to be a total troll, but I'm just curious, what has you frustrated with St. Louis? What do you think the Twin Cities would provide that St. Louis doesn't?


Jobs leaving and not coming back. Fractured county government. Horrible management of St. Louis City. Red vs blue/Missourah vs Missouri. Good schools in almost all areas and "education" is not a dirty word.

I'm not saying the Twin Cities is the perfect place of rainbows, puppy dogs, 1% unemployment and a Utopian government. But I get sad every time I go there and see how they've kept progressing.

I know even thinking of leaving makes me a bad person: and I'm sorry.
dweebe wrote:
Horrible management of St. Louis City.


I am no big fan of Mayor Slay and city leadership; however, with our deeply fractured region I'd actually say our city's management is pretty decent.
goat314 wrote:
My opinion is that people often praise Minneapolis as a prime example of a Midwest metro that does everything right, which is correct in many respects. What they fail to mention is that Minneapolis was never a heavy industrial city and demographically (in regards to race and socioeconomic dynamics) is an outlier amongst major Midwest metros. It's benefited greatly from being the anti-Cleveland, St. Louis, and Detroit, being whiter, richer, and more highly educated, which makes it a lot easier to get things done. Going forward, I would love to see St. Louis implement some Twin Cities strategies, but one has to ask if they would go over well in a much more polarized region.

Also, I've heard A LOT of bad things about MSP from African Americans, many from St. Louis. This recent article kinda confirms it.
http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2015 ... _study.php

I agree in totality with your comment.

Despite MSP not having as many legacy issues, on a side note, I think St. Louis, which is often insular, has suffered immensely by not planning earlier or properly for globalization, addressing poverty, the post-industrial economy and for the knowledge-based economy.

Although Minneapolis has a lot of "old economy" firms - some even acquired by St. Louis firms - Minneapolis has a lot of "new economy" firms. Some of their fastest-growing firms are IT firms. MSP has a lot of knowledge-based jobs (health care, financial, IT etc.), which easily explains the high-education, higher incomes etc.

St. Louis has caught on, but it still has a ways to go.

Still, the St. Louis region could eliminate a lot of problems by declaring a "war on poverty". However, the racial dynamic would inevitably seep into the discussion.
I've been intrigued by the fact that unlike say Portland or Seattle, Minneapolis really couldn't be said to be a population barn-burner until recently.... in fact it had no growth in the naughts. Gives me hope that maybe we're a decade behind; I'd love to break even in 2020 and then see sure and steady growth from there.... maybe get to 350,000 by 2040 with two decades of 5% growth. Need N/S Metrolink though!
I love the smell of anecdotal evidence and baseless claims in the morning.
^Trying to have a dialogue here Ebsy.

dweebe, your concerns are totally justified, and you're obviously not alone. But keep in mind that 2014 was one of the worst years in the history of St. Louis. Certainly top 3 in its 250 years. Also, not to go totally cheerleader on you, there are a lot of good things happening in St. Louis. Companies like the ones Arch City described are thriving (Centene, Express Scripts, Mallinckrodt, Scottrade, RGA, Stifel, Belden). Also, the research and start-up scene between Downtown, Cortex and the Danforth Center is burgeoning.

In this century core neighborhoods have seen investment and improvement on a scale that hadn't occurred in the previous 50 years, and those trends are only accelerating. Like RW pointed out, things are moving in the right direction, not only for stabilization, but also laying the foundation for growth. As a whole it might not have the same dynamism as Austin, Portland, Brooklyn, S.F, Atlanta or (apparently) Minne, but many of the (dare I say) most important areas of St. Louis have a lot of momentum, and all of the trends point toward that continuing. The progress has been overshadowed by the unfortunate events that grabbed the national media's attention, and the resulting highlighting of some core dysfunctions, but that doesn't mean it isn't happening.
Current temperature in Minneapolis is eight below zero

I'll take St. Louis
I find it notable that the word "miracle" has to be attributed to the outcome of a process that values education, makes good decisions, and highlights generations passing along and teaching the next ones the value of hard work and local pride....things that are in essence common sense. I think that speaks to the challenges facing our society as a whole right now from healthy maturation of children to adults to the nuclear family to neighborhoods to communities to cities to regions. In a sense, the real miracle is that we here in an incredibly fractured, pugilistic region are managing to make a blip on the radar of urban progress whatsoever.

As others have referenced, let's tip our cap to Minneapolis knowing that we can't be them, but learn what facets of their success are applicable to our unique situation; then keep fighting the good fight.
At least 1 in 6 or 7 Minneapolitans and St. Paulers are students. And 45% or so of the remainder have completed college degrees. They have a huge assortment of colleges and universities in the two primary cities' limits. This in itself guarantees a certain level of success. Just like Boston. I agree with the poster above, "miracle" is the wrong word for it. The article should be more along the lines of "it's no mystery why Minneapolis is successful, because they don't make rookie mistakes and practice self-sabotage at every turn like certain other metros."

Why aren't Saint Louisans beating down the doors at city hall demanding the establishment of more institutions of higher learning, when that clearly x 400000000 is what STL needs?
A rebuttal of sorts from the Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2015/02/17/if-minneapolis-is-so-great-why-is-it-so-bad-for-black-people/

There's a conversation about this going on over at Skyscraperpage as well:

http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=215781
There is also a rebuttal on The Atlantic itself.

http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/newsr ... jpg?nk6nxt
The rebuttals are sour grapes. Less than 25% of black residents are below the poverty line, compared to 37% in STL. The fact is, white people in Minneapolis have a very high quality of life, and in spite of the 3:1 ratio of black:white poverty, even blacks are more successful. There's nothing to see but success, and less successful metros trying to take MPLS down a notch. Go live there for a few years and report back to me. Your report will be that it kicked ass.
^ I don't think those rebuttal articles are unfounded. I think they point out some very good points. I also do not know where you get the idea that Minneapolis blacks do much better than St. Louis blacks. The median household income for blacks in St. Louis was about $30,498 ($51,164 for whites) compared to $29,571 ($63,352 for whites) in Minneapolis. As you can see the black middle class is much more closer the white middle class in St. Louis, In Minneapolis the black middle class makes less than half the money. Not saying St. Louis is all roses for blacks, but to say Minneapolis is better is just not true. Obviously, there is also a much larger Afro-American middle class in St. Louis than the Twin Cities, but that goes without saying. I think the segregation and regional fragmentation hurts the black community more in St. Louis than anything, because black communities get poorer services across income levels. I just think there is a stereotype in St. Louis, that the majority black experience in St. Louis is drive-by shootings, drug deals, and riots, which is total nonsense. The black community is one of the most conservative in St. Louis. I just think many people on this forum have had little interaction with the black community in St. Louis (or anywhere for that matter), so the post dispatch and fox2now informs your opinions and reinforces your stereotypes, one of the tragedies of segregation.
Demographically the core Twin Cities metro area just seems so different than ours that is hard to make easy comparisons.... we're a largely stagnant, black/white metro while the Twin Cities is an increasingly growing, multi-cultural area with increasing transit and jobs options.

In terms of minorities, the Twin Cities have so many more foreign born than we do that you have to wonder how that impacts bottom-line numbers in socio-economic outcomes in education and employment, etc. But from reading some of the reports, etc. it looks like there has been a conscious effort in the Twin Cities to build affordable, subsidized housing in concentrated core areas, especially along the growing number of transit lines, and that this may have both positive and negative impacts. On the plus side, proximity to transit and the core allows for greater mobility but concentration also seems to lead to greater segregation for things like schools. Anyway, it seems very different from us, where we're seeing increasing black flight out of the core and into the suburbs but at the same time largely into areas that are experiencing secondary white flight patterns.

From my perspective, the Twin Cities are in a much better position to address problems of racial/economic imbalance.
^ good points Roger. Comparing Minneapolis to St. Louis is really apples and oranges in so many respects, the cities couldn't be more different. With that said, blacks are fleeing the city but the black population is actually still growing in the St. Louis metro, which is strange for a rust belt city. Although not on the same level as the Twin Cities, the Latino and Asian population is growing tremendously fast too. St. Louis is actually stagnate, because native-born Whites have been fleeing the region for decades. Surprisingly, St. Louis is actually getting very diverse, not as fast as booming cities, but the metro white population is dropping considerably every census and the city is become less black/white by the year. The problem in St. Louis seems to be that there is a mismatch between a region growing more diverse and a political establishment that is not reflecting this change. What is interesting is that we would probably have a similar growth rate to Minneapolis if we were able to retain some of those college educated, young whites, because that is who is leaving the region in droves. In fact, we could do better in educated our homegrown black population, who actually has an affinity for the city.

Also, its sad that Alex/NEXTSTL rarely reports on the Beyond Housing developments happening in NoCo. Communities like Normandy, Wellston, and Pagedale (in particular) are doing some super progressive things around community planning, great streets projects on Natural Bridge and Page (planned). Good urban design and TOD planned for St. Charles Rock Road station. Some real good stuff happening in inner ring North County. Imagine what Brentwood, Maplewood, Richmond Heights could do around Metrolink with their demand, squandered opportunity.
onecity wrote:
There's nothing to see but success, and less successful metros trying to take MPLS down a notch.


What? In what universe is Washington DC (home of both the Washington Post and the Atlantic, from which the two linked articles were taken) less successful than Minneapolis? All three articles make relevant points—namely that Minneapolis is really good for certain demographics and not so great for others.
^In the universe in which affordability and quality of life matters. MPLS is a city where you really can have it all without sacrificing much: nature, parks, no months of summer scorch, top notch arts institutions including the Walker Art Institute, MIA, McKnight Center for Photography and numerous others, an affordable house near the urban core chosen from a beautiful and well-maintained stock of craftsman styles, top-notch university education out the wazoo, good public schools, strong diversity including many races and the foreign born, great dining and brewing, cycling EVERYWHERE, a diverse and healthy economy with a lot of knowledge work, one of the nation's best music scenes, tons of Fortune 500s, tons of patents per capita, public radio powerhouse, progressive politics, lack of redneckery, cleanliness, and an extremely high quality of life in a city that is safe around the clock. Did I miss anything?

What is interesting is that we would probably have a similar growth rate to Minneapolis if we were able to retain some of those college educated, young whites, because that is who is leaving the region in droves. In fact, we could do better in educated our homegrown black population, who actually has an affinity for the city.


In order to do that, our kids need to be able to study in St. Louis, and not just those 15,000 whose families are loaded, get near perfect scores on ACT/SAT, and study law and medicine. Where are the big unis to make that happen?
onecity wrote:
^In the universe in which affordability and quality of life matters. MPLS is a city where you really can have it all without sacrificing much: nature, parks, no months of summer scorch, top notch arts institutions including the Walker Art Institute, MIA, McKnight Center for Photography and numerous others, an affordable house near the urban core chosen from a beautiful and well-maintained stock of craftsman styles, top-notch university education out the wazoo, good public schools, strong diversity including many races and the foreign born, great dining and brewing, cycling EVERYWHERE, a diverse and healthy economy with a lot of knowledge work, one of the nation's best music scenes, tons of Fortune 500s, tons of patents per capita, public radio powerhouse, progressive politics, lack of redneckery, cleanliness, and an extremely high quality of life in a city that is safe around the clock. Did I miss anything?


Those are all nice, qualitative things. I could rattle off a similar but much longer list for Washington. Have you spent any time in Washington? There's a reason that it's one of the fastest growing cities in the US. My point is that your criticism about "less successful metros trying to take MPLS down a notch" is ridiculous considering the sources of the two "rebuttal" articles. I don't think anyone here is offering up the rebuttals in an attempt to discredit Minneapolis, so don't take it personally. They're just two articles that came out in response to the "miracle" article. We're just linking them here for completeness and discussion.