A look back at living in Bloomington
What is now Bloomington was populated in 1839, when the Mdewakanton band of the Sioux nation then living around Lake Calhoun in what became Minneapolis moved to the middle of present-day Bloomington. The first European settlers followed in 1843—illegally, since the territory was not opened to Europeans by treaty until 1851. A modest number of immigrants arrived after the treaty went into effect, enough so the first school opened in 1855. By the early 1900s, the area had attracted about a thousand residents, virtually all of them farmers. As a comparison, Minneapolis had a population of over 200,000 in 1900.
Bloomington continued to grow, moderately, until its population exploded after World War II, declining slightly over the past two decades from its postwar peak, as the average household size declined in Bloomington (like many other cities and suburbs). This trend continues up to the present, as Bloomington's 1990 average was 2.47 people for each residential unit, while the 2000 ratio was down to 2.3.
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While the city's impressive postwar residential growth was evident to everyone, Bloomington's parallel business growth was less-noticeable at first. The landmark event was Toro's 1952 opening of a new general headquarters and plant. Although few understood the implications for either Bloomington or the metropolitan area at the time—this predated General Mill's relocation from Minneapolis to Golden Valley by a half decade—Toro and Bloomington foreshadowed the transformation of American corporate business activity from historic downtowns to suburbia. Bloomington's economic position was further enhanced by the opening of I-494 and the consequent reorientation of airport access by 1960. The I-494 corridor rapidly became the focus of Twin Cities hospitality—hotels and restaurants.
The signature feature of today's Bloomington began with the mid-1950s development of property located southeast of Cedar Avenue and 78th Street (soon to be upgraded into I-494). The site was chosen for a new sports stadium; Minneapolis civic leaders needed to build a new stadium to attract major-league baseball, and saw Bloomington as "neutral" in the rivalry between Minneapolis and St. Paul. The new Metropolitan Stadium attracted both major league baseball and NFL football, and by the mid-1960s, NHL hockey in an adjacent arena. When these sports moved to Minneapolis (Dallas for hockey) in 1982, the very large site became available for new development: the Mall of America opened here in 1992.
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