The Rivalry Between Minneapolis and St. Paul Is Playful Now, But It Wasn’t Always

Know as the “Twin Cities,” Minneapolis and St. Paul in Minnesota have a friendly rivalry. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always that way. In the late 1800s, as the cities grew rapidly from frontier towns into centers of politics and industry, the competition between them was fierce. Each wanted to claim the prize of being the bigger city, and those tensions came to a head during the census of 1890. The frenzied push to count the population of each city grew corrupt and underhanded, drawing national attention and gifting America with a new phrase: “padding the numbers.” While St. Paul was the capital, Minneapolis was growing more visibly. That left St. Paul feeling a bit…….well……diminished. Both cities were trying to inflate their numbers. There were reports of homes listed as having 10 people living in them, while there were other reports of residents living at addresses that didn’t exist. Some census takers counted people buried in cemeteries, and it wasn’t long before both cities had enlisted private detectives to spy each other. There were even reports of census takers from one city being kidnapped, while census takers from the other city were being arrested. The fight became so contentious that federal officials in Washington ordered a census recount and the arrested men were quietly released. A new and unbiased census report showed that Minneapolis was the larger city. In fact, it has remained the larger of the two ever since.