Exploring Bloomington’s History: A Comprehensive Guide

When relocating to the bustling yet cozy Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, Minnesota, the fifth largest city in the state, you can ease the stresses of moving by hiring exceptional movers in Bloomington to handle their belongings. This frees you to start uncovering the many layers of rich history and culture that shape this friendly Midwestern community and make it an enticing place to settle in.

From its early days nurturing Native American tribes and pioneering farmers to the modern era as a thriving residential and commercial hub, Bloomington rewards newcomers who take time to become familiar with the key events and eras that built this distinctive city.


The Minnesota valley nurturing Bloomington sustained indigenous peoples like the Dakota and Ojibwe tribes for generations before European settlers arrived in the early 1800s to farm the fertile land. Movers in Bloomington MN frequently handle local artifacts in collections or client homes tracing artifacts to these first inhabitants. Bloomington’s named after surveyor John Bloomington who helped divide the surrounding Hennepin County, of which Bloomington remains its southern anchor today supporting major employment centers.

Early 1800s: Opportunity Emerges

Newly signed treaties opened southern Minnesota land for purchase or claiming by settlers in the decades prior to statehood in 1858. Drawn by rich soil, timber, and waterways, pioneer farmers cultivated Bloomington’s prairies for agriculture driving early commerce.
The community’s population officially hits near 300 residents by 1860. Though isolated, Bloomington provided a link between Minneapolis industry along the Mississippi River and productive farmlands further south.

Connecting with Minneapolis

Accelerating construction of new railway lines through Bloomington during 1867-1868 improved transportation connectivity greatly benefiting both freight and passengers. Farm goods could reach broader markets easier, while growing numbers of Minneapolis workers discovered Bloomington’s affordable land ideal for homes only 20 minutes by train from city jobs.
Population surged over the late 1800s. Now an established streetcar suburb, Bloomington’s history forever intertwined with sister city Minneapolis despite retaining its own distinct neighborhoods and identity through major 20th century growth.

Mid-1900s Expansion

Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, as seen on July 27, 2017. It is the second largest mall in terms of leaseable space and the largest mall in the United States in terms of total floor area.

Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. It is the second largest mall in terms of leaseable space and the largest mall in the United States in terms of total floor area.

Modern day conveniences like electricity, automobiles and highways fueled population spikes as Bloomington evolved into a leading residential community. By 1950 over 9,000 residents called Bloomington home.

Major business and commercial projects breaking ground through the mid-1900s increased jobs and affluence. Bloomington emerged as a retail mecca crowned by the opening of the famous Mall of America along interstate 494 in 1992.

Residential Development

As Bloomington grew, distinct neighborhoods emerged each with their own character. Near Old Shakopee Road, working-class homes housed railway employees and farmers. Moving east, neighborhoods like Miller’s Woods and Poplar Bridge Road developed around the 1920s-1950s for middle-class families drawn to larger lots and curving streets.

Areas near marshlands like Mound Springs Park filled more slowly but offered affordability. Central districts hosted civic buildings and dense neighborhoods walking distance to rail lines for commuting. Careful zoning policies ensured orderly expansion.

Education Milestones

Pagoda and Bridge at the Japanese Garden and Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Pagoda and Bridge at the Japanese Garden and Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota.
Photo by depositphotos.com

With swelling young families, Bloomington’s first schools date to humble one-room schoolhouses in the mid-1800s. By the early 1900s, consolidated public schools educated hundreds of pupils.
Rapid enrollment jumps in the 1950s-1960s necessitated new buildings like John F. Kennedy High School opening in 1968. Community pride in strong education persists today through institutions like the Hennepin Technical College campus situated in Bloomington.

Key Events Over the Decades

Like any long-established town, key events and people punctuate the timeline revealing slice-of-life insights about Bloomington. Tracing civic progress decade-by-decade reveals inspiring accomplishments.

Late 1800s – Rail lines crisscross the town spurring growth. Bloomington Farmers Grange forms providing community for isolated rural settlers.
Early 1900s – First village hall and school open. Telephone services begin.
1920s – City officially incorporates an appointed mayor. Its first bank opens doors.
1930s – Bloomington’s first health clinic established during the Great Depression assisting struggling families. Federal funding later enables a formal hospital.
1940s – Wartime industry employs residents in Minneapolis plants with Bloomington population exceeding 9,000.
1950s – First public library branch starts small then expands. Major highways like Interstates 35W and 494 built intersecting Bloomington.
1960s – Iconic Hyland Hills Ski Area opens for winter sports. The Minnesota Twins arrive playing in Metropolitan Stadium attracting visitors.
1970s – Bloomington Community College founded. Second high school opens accommodating surging enrollment from growing young families.
1980s – Old Metropolitan Stadium closes but Mall of America project starts with grand opening in 1992 creating thousands of jobs.
2000s – Bloomington continues steady growth passing 85,000 residents by 2010 with numerous parks, strong schools, and abundant amenities for raising Midwestern families.

Historic Sites to Explore

Various locations help newcomers better understand local history after unpacking belongs with Bloomington MN movers. Here are some of the historic sites you can explore in the region.

Bloomington History Museum

Located in the 1800s Old City Hall building that originally housed local government offices, this charming site displays early Native American artifacts like arrowheads, beads and stone tools as well as clothing, dolls, furnishings and equipment conveying how European pioneers established farms and built communities serving as roots for modern Bloomington. Historic photos depict early residents and scenes from the 19th century onward.

Old Shakopee Road

One of Hennepin County’s first roads constructed in 1851 as a dusty wagon trail spanning from Fort Snelling to the south towards Shakopee, deep ruts forged by horse hooves and wooden wheels remain visible conveying the raw struggles early Bloomington inhabitants faced traversing unpaved wilderness pathways before modern transportation conveniences emerged in the 20th century.

Mound Springs Park Indian Mounds

Giant earthworks and burial sites vacated by indigenous Hopewells, Sioux, and Ojibwe tribes over 1,000 years before European contact contain remarkably preserved bones, spear points, clay pots and other artifacts hinting at the mysterious cultures who gathered and likely traded at this site positioned along the Minnesota River. Interpretive signs share archaeological insights.

Old Cedar Avenue Bridge

Originally opened in 1920, this steel truss swing bridge with original limestone piers spanning the Minnesota River into Minneapolis helped accelerate Bloomington’s population growth by allowing residents easy access to city jobs by streetcar. Later automotive traffic continued using the bridge until its pedestrian-only conversion in the 1970s. Plaques recount this history.

Old Abandoned Cedar Avenue Bridge in the Minnesota National Wildlife Refuge

Old Abandoned Cedar Avenue Bridge in the Minnesota National Wildlife Refuge
Photo by depositphotos.com

Met Stadium Site

Metropolitan Stadium. Bloomington, Minnesota. Postcard.

Photo by Flickr

While only commemorations remain today where Metropolitan Stadium hosted MLB baseball’s Twins until the 1980s, the original entry gates and layout allow imagening the iconic ballpark that put Bloomington on the map by drawing huge crowds. Some bleacher planks were even repurposed into bars where fans reminiscence and glimpse relics today like old programs, ticket stubs and pennants from exciting games played there over 30 years.

From Native American footpaths to modern 8-lane highways, Bloomington’s history weaves together key transportation routes enabling trade and migration. Natural resources like rich farmland and the Minnesota River nourished early settlement supporting both agriculture and access to growing Minneapolis industry. Education, recreation and civic planning enabled steady 20th century suburban expansion. For over two centuries, Bloomington’s families and institutions built upon these roots creating the close-knit, opportunity-filled community appreciated by residents today as much as by its earliest pioneers and indigenous inhabitants.


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