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  • Mill City MuseumMill City Museum Minneapolis, Minnesota
    The Washburn A Mill was the second biggest flour mill in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, constructed in 1874 by Cadwallader C. Washburn, but then destroyed in a mill explosion in 1878, killing 18 people. The mill was rebuilt, sometime later, and for almost half a century, was the most technologically advanced and biggest mill in the world; shut down eventually and then turned into a wonderful historical museum dedicated to the local milling industry and called the Mill City Museum. The Mill Ruins Park is out in front of the complex, which together with the mill belong to the St. Anthony Falls Historic District that is itself part of the larger National Park Service's Mississippi National River and Recreation area. At its peak, the mill could produce 2 million pounds of flour a day, unloading more than 100 boxcars a day of wheat. One of their ads from 1870, read, "Forty-one runs of stone. Capacity, 1200 barrels per day. This is the largest and most complete mill in the United States, and has not its equal in quantity and quality of machinery for making high and uniform grades of Family Flour in this country." Aside from all that, the mill, the Pillsbury A Mill and other flour mills powered by St. Anthony Falls, have influenced the growth of the city and its development. In 1878, May 2nd, a spark ignited the flour dust inside the mill, which caused a huge explosion that destroyed the 7 story Washburn A Mill, as well as two other nearby mills, while the fire did its destructive work on other businesses in the area. Fourteen mill workers died in that fire, as did four other workers in the nearby buildings. It would become known as the Great Mill Disaster, making national newspapers and became a focal point that would create many great reforms in the flour industry. To make sure that there would be no future examples of this magnitude would occur, ventilation systems and other kinds of precautionary devices were put into the mills located around the nation. Washburn has rebuilt the mill by 1880, to where it was the biggest in the world, until the Pillsbury A Mill was constructed across the river the next year. Washburn would soon partner with John Crosby and they would form the Washburn-Crosby Company that later became the company known as General Mills. Sometime after WWI, the flour production declined as the water power became less important to create the flour, and other cities became more invested in flour production, like Buffalo, New York. Eventually companies like General Mills would become more interested in producing cereals and baking mixes, rather than just flour. The Washburn A Mill produced only white flour, and couldn't produce whole wheat, which was gaining in popularity in the country. It was shut down in 1965, as were eight other mills in the area, and were no longer used. In 1991, a fire raged through the old mill and almost destroyed it, but later during that decade, the city worked to stabilize the ruins. The Minnesota Historical Society manages the museum inside the mill, which showcases the history of milling and examples of the machines used to grind the wheat into flour, as well as a tour that highlights each job performed on every floor of the 8 floors of the mill. The main display is where visitors are seated in the main elevator of the flour tower, where they are taken, floor by floor, to a recreated animatronic picture of the machinery that was used for the production of flour, and at the finish, they are taken to an outdoor observation platform at the top of the building where you can see the entire complex and marvelous views of the riverfront. Next to that tower is a grain elevator that still shines the Gold Medal Flour sign at night; while the old competitor, Pillsbury, has a sign on its top reading Pillsbury's Best Flour.

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  • Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
    The Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome is referred to as the Metrodome, and is the domed sports stadium located in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, and was renamed to that in 2009. It was opened in 1982, and is home to the National Football League's Minnesota Vikings, and sometimes used by the Big Ten's University of Minnesota Golden Gophers baseball team. It was also the home of the Minnesota Twins from 1982 to 2009, and the Golden Gophers football team from 1982 until 2008. It is now 28 years old, and thus, it has become the ninth oldest stadium in the National Football League. It is known as the Dome here locally, and is very well known because of its fiberglass fabric roof that is supported by air pressure. The Dome is the second major sports complex to have a domed roof supported completely by air, with the first being the Pontiac Silverdome. It is quite close to being an exact copy of the BC Place Stadium and the RCA dome. By the 1970s, the Vikings were becoming unhappy about the small space in Metropolitan Stadium for crowds, having less than 48,500 seats, and not maintained too well either, with broken rails, as well as seats in the third deck. It was also believed by supporters of a new stadium, that the team would be better off with a new stadium that could insulate the team from its terribly harsh winters during the later seasonal games. As construction successes of other domed stadiums, like the Pontiac Silverdome near Detroit, occurred, the voters passed a memorandum for new funding for a brand new stadium. In downtown Minneapolis, a revitalization process was just starting, with the return of professional sports from suburban Bloomington, it would become a big success; since the last downtown Minneapolis team was the Lakers that went to LA in 1960. Construction started in 1979, and funded by a local limited hotel-motel tax and liquor tax, business donations and payments to start a special tax district near the new stadium site. The stadium would be named after the former mayor of Minneapolis, US senator and US Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, who had passed in 1978. The 1985 MLB All Star game, numerous games of the 1987 and 1991 World Series, Super Bowl XXVI in 1992, and 1998-1999 NFC championship games were held here, which helped the economy of the city greatly; and in 1992 and 2001, the NCAA Final Four games were held here. Duke University would win both events, while it served as one of the four regional facilities for the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship in 1986, 1989, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2006 and 2009. It is the only venue that has hosted a MLB All-Star Game, 1985, a Super Bowl, 1992, an NCAA Final Four, 1992 and 2001, and a World Series, 1987 and 1991. It has been the sight of many record breaking and career achievements during its history and is likely to see a few more during its run.

February 11, 2011