When I had a conversation with my buddy Dylan about the greatest cities of the Midwest, I didn’t really think I would have to defend the relevance of Minneapolis, especially as it pertains to Chicago. Chicago is a great city, and for someone not from Minnesota, I can’t expect to convince him of the clear, but less-than-widely-know superiority of the Twin Cities. For purposes of this blog post, I am not even entertaining arguments of St. Paul, because Minneapolis is clearly better, but I will call them the Twin Cities for purposes of this argument.
The main argument is that Minn- er, the Cities are allowed to have an inferiority complex as it pertains to their big brother, the Second City. TC is smaller, for sure, but it’s really not the size- it’s how you use it. And we use it well. But Chicago is a comically large city. If you look at some scenes from the first Batman Begins movie, the city of Gotham looks legitimately three times the size of New York. There is obviously no Gotham City, but in case you didn’t know, many scenes from The Dark Knight were filmed in Chicago. I believe all of it was. But the comparability of the fictional Gotham and the Windy one should lend credence to my theory. Chicago is just too big. It has two major league baseball teams, for crying out loud! It might as well be two cities- and no Milwaukee, you cannot be Chicago Jr. You just suck.
The Twin Cities are not only a perfect size, but we have the perfect structure. We picked one less-good city in which to put the government, the old people and the niche sports team. But those are all things cities need. The better city has the hip downtown, uptown and college campuses, as well as the more advanced transportation system (for now). But while St. Paul does have some more cultural landmarks and destinations, MPLS has those things that are not necessary, but still great for a city to have- an uptown, the Greenway, Minnehaha Park & Fort Snelling and three more sports teams that are actually successful. To be fair to Bloomington, that city is starting to hold its own in our metro area. The Mall is pretty sweet and it almost has a legitimate downtown. Probably better than St. Cloud, anyway.
But we actually hold an important relationship with Chicago and that’s undeniable. We are, as I was telling Dylan. One of the last cities of our size until we get to the coast. If the United States was the Galaxy Far, Far Away from Star Wars, the Twin Cities would be Naboo. Which would make, say, Denver Tattooine. And the west coast are all planets that have been claimed by the Rebel Alliance. Or something like that. But you just don’t get the same kind of relationships among the large cities of the mountain time zone. Each one was founded off some resource that was abundant and can really support a contained economy. If the U.S. is playing the board games Settlers of Catan, they may have all just put their settlement on a Six and nothing else. Denver has its Ore, Phoenix has its Heat and Salt Lake apparently has God. Which is good for them, I suppose. But Minneapolis/St.Paul is on thirteen dots next to a three-for-one port. (I’m sorry if you haven’t played this game.) I think the important point is that we should definitely make the Eastern U.S., everything east of St. Cloud as well as the West Coast should become one country, and leave the western frontier to wither in the abyss.