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A History of Minneapolis: an Overview by Staff at the Hennepin County Library

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Featuring historical photos and items from the collections of the Hennepin County Library, with contemporary photos from the Phototour of Minneapolis by Chris Gregerson.

Municipal Building

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The governing organization of the city quickly outgrew the first City Hall on Bridge Square. Construction of the new City Hall, to be known as the Municipal Building, started in late 1888 and continued in fits and starts until its official completion in 1909, at a cost of $3.5 million.

Old Minneapolis City Hall at Bridge Square, built in 1873 and torn down in 1912.
Minneapolis Collection, M5091.

The Municipal Building of the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County, built between 1888 and 1909.
Minneapolis Collection: History of the Municipal Building. F614.M5M34.

Built in Richardsonian style, of Ortonville granite, the building served as the Court House of Hennepin County and the City Hall of Minneapolis, and today continues to house city government and some county offices, being jointly owned by the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County. With its clock tower rising to a height of 345 feet, the building was the tallest structure in Minneapolis until the 1920s. The clock itself was said to be the largest in the world when it was installed. Its faces measure four inches larger than those of London's Big Ben. The spacious rotunda houses the statue of the "Father of Waters," a colossal work of sculptor Larkin Goldsmith Mead, who carved the statue while residing in Florence, Italy. In 1974, the Municipal Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1981, a general plan was created for the building that attempts to restore some of the original detail. Most recently, the City Council chambers have been remodeled to resemble the 1923 design by John S. Bradstreet.

Father of Waters, Rotunda, Main Floor.
Minneapolis Collection: History of the Municipal Building. F614.M5M34.

Inside the clock tower. Clock was installed in 1895.
Minneapolis Collection: History of the Municipal Building. F614.M5M34.

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