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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.


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The first local newspaper was the St. Anthony Express (1851), published by Elmer Taylor and edited by Isaac Atwater in St. Anthony. Its political leanings were towards the Whig party. The paper had financial difficulties over the years and was discontinued in 1861. The North-Western Democrat was the second paper published in St. Anthony. Its first issue came out in 1853 and its political leanings were towards the Democrat party. It too had financial difficulties, eventually selling out and moving across the river. In 1854, the newly renamed paper, The Northwest Democrat, was the first newspaper to be published on the west side of the Mississippi River. The Northwest Democrat was published weekly by W. A. Hotchkiss.

Minneapolis from the corner of 2nd Avenue and Washington Avenue showing the Minnesota Democrat Newspaper building (1857).
Minneapolis Collection, BR0014

Newspaper row on 4th Street (ca. 1897). Printing houses included The Minneapolis Tribune, A.J. Dahl, R.L. Earl Printing, Minneapolis Journal, The Penny Press, and Leighton Brothers Printing. The crowd is awaiting election results.
Minneapolis Collection, BR0167

The first daily newspaper in what was to become Minneapolis, The Daily Falls Evening News, began in 1857. Two years later, Col. William King started another daily, The State Atlas. A rival paper, The Chronicle, was established by Col. John H. Stevens and others in 1866. The State Atlas and The Chronicle consolidated and began publishing the Minneapolis Tribune in 1867 with a print run of 1,000 copies. The Minneapolis Journal (founded in 1878) joined with the Minneapolis Star (founded by the Nonpartisan League in 1920) in 1939 to become the Minneapolis Star Journal. The Minneapolis Times was published from 1889 to 1948. In 1935 John and Gardner Cowles bought the Minneapolis Star Journal and began using the name Star Journal in 1939. With the ownership of the Cowles and the events that were happening in the 1930s, a new aura of professionalism and social responsibility came to Minneapolis journalism. The Cowles family purchased the Minneapolis Tribune in 1941. On April 5, 1982, the evening paper, the Minneapolis Star, merged with the Minneapolis Tribune. The Cowles family continued to own and operate the newspaper until 1998, when they sold it to the McClatchy Newspapers, a company based in Sacramento, California.

Newsboys for the Minneapolis Journal in 1881.
Minneapolis Collection, BR0069

News vendors at the corner of Washington and Hennepin Avenue in 1904.
Minneapolis Collection, BR0123

Star Tribune History

The following information was compiled by staff at the Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN) newspaper and provided to the Minneapolis Public Library, August 12, 1997.

1867 May 22Tribune founded
1889 November 30Tribune fire
1920 August 19First issue of Minneapolis Star
1935Cowles bought Minneapolis Star
1939Evening Tribune changed name to Times-Tribune (owned by Murphy interests)
1939 August 1 Cowles bought Minneapolis Journal using name Star Journal
1941 May 1Cowles bought Minneapolis Tribune including both morning and evening papers. Morning paper moved to Tribune building at 425 Portland Avenue and was published as the Minneapolis Morning Tribune. The Times-Tribune remained in the old Tribune building and was published as a separate paper, the Minneapolis Times (evening paper). All three papers now owned by Cowles (Star-Journal, Tribune, and Times)
1946 SeptemberPrice was 3 cents for papers sold in the Twin Cities and 5 cents outstate
1946 November 13Price for the paper changed from 3 cents to 5 cents
1948 MayTimes withdrawn from publication. Last issue date May 15
1982 April 5Combined newsrooms: Last published edition of the Minneapolis Star (evening paper) was April 2. First printed edition of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune was April 5.
1986 January 1Beginning day of the Star and Tribune electronic library
1987 August 31Name changed to Star Tribune Newspaper of the Twin Cities (plus first edition of the St. Paul version).
1990 September 20Last time community section was published.
1998The Cowles family sold the Minneapolis daily and weekend paper to McClatchy Newspapers, California based company.

Some early non-English papers published in Minneapolis included the Folkebladet (1877), a Norwegian newspaper, and The Daily Tidende (1887), the only daily Scandinavian newspaper in the northwest. Swan Turnblad published the Swedish paper the Svenska-Ameriskanska-Posten (1885). L'Echo de L'Ouest (1883), a weekly French newspaper, was published by French-Canadian Zephirin Demeules.

Cecil Newman, 1946.
Minneapolis Collection, Uncat Portraits

The Minneapolis Spokesman was founded by Cecil Newman in 1934. Newman went on to have a long and distinguished presence in the community as a publisher and also as a civil rights advocate and community spokesman. The Spokesman merged with the St. Paul Recorder in 2000 to form the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, which continues to serve the African-American community.

Other local papers include a business newspaper as well as local neighborhood newspapers. Finance and Commerce has been publishing Twin City business news since 1887 and is the official newspaper of the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County. A rich array of neighborhood newspapers has been springing up since the 1970s to inform the public of local and city news pertinent to their communities.

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