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City of Fridley

Fridley is a city in Anoka County, Minnesota, United States. Its population was 29,590 at the 2020 census. Fridley was incorporated in 1949 as a village, and became a city in 1957. It is part of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Fridley is a “first ring” or “inner ring” suburb in the northern part of the Twin Cities. Fridley connects with the city of Minneapolis at its southern border. Neighboring first-ring suburbs are Columbia Heights to the south and Brooklyn Center to the west across the Mississippi River.

Geography and Climate
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.89 square miles (28.20 km2), of which 10.17 square miles (26.34 km2) are land and 0.72 square miles (1.86 km2) is covered by water.

The city lies within a narrow portion of the southernmost part of Anoka County. It is longer north–south along the path of the Mississippi River, and the highways that follow the river. It is narrower east/west in the portion between the boundaries of the Mississippi River and the City of Spring Lake Park.

The city of Fridley borders the cities of Coon Rapids and Blaine to the north; Spring Lake Park to the northeast; Mounds View and New Brighton to the east; Columbia Heights to the southeast; Minneapolis to the southwest; and Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center to the west.

Fridley is at the Southern edge of the Anoka Sand Plain. Lakes in Fridley include East Moore Lake, West Moore Lake, and Locke Lake. Rice Creek flows through the central part of the city, Springbrook Creek flows through the northwest section, and the Mississippi River borders Fridley to the west. Portions of islands in the Mississippi River, including the Islands of Peace and Banfill Island, are within the borders of the city.

Fridley shares its climate with nearby Minneapolis. It has a hot-summer humid continental climate zone (Dfa in the Köppen climate classification), typical of southern parts of the Upper Midwest, and is situated in USDA plant hardiness zone 4b. As is typical in a continental climate, the difference between average temperatures in the coldest winter month and the warmest summer month is great: 60.1 °F (33.4 °C).

19th century
The post-European/American settlement history of Fridley began with the construction of the Red River Trails Woods trail for the Red River ox carts in 1844. The trail traveled through Minnesota Territory from St. Paul to Pembina in present-day North Dakota). The road was used to transport furs to the south and other various supplies to the Red River Valley settlers in the north. The East River Road (Anoka County Highway 1) follows this route today within Fridley, from the border with Minneapolis to the border with Coon Rapids.

Abram M. Fridley, for whom the city is named.
In 1847, John Banfill became the first settler in the area, which was known at the time as Manomin. Manomin is a variant spelling of manoomin, the Ojibwe word for wild rice, a staple of their diet. It comprised the modern-day municipalities of Columbia Heights, Fridley, Hilltop, and Spring Lake Park. The Banfill Tavern was built in 1847.

The area soon grew quickly in size. In 1851, Banfill platted the actual town of Manomin. There, a general store and sawmill were built next to Rice Creek, named after Henry Mower Rice, a settler who just two years earlier had acquired land in the area. In 1853, the first town post office was in operation, and a year later, a ferry crossing the Mississippi River was established.

In 1855, Abram M. Fridley, for whom the city is named, was elected as the first territorial representative for the area.

In 1857, the area separated from Ramsey County; Manomin County was established, and it became the smallest county in the United States, having only 18 sections. This distinction was short-lived, after it was annexed by Anoka County in 1870 and became a township with the same name.

The Saint Paul and Pacific Railroad, which joined St. Paul to St. Anthony across from Minneapolis in 1862, began extending rail to Anoka, reaching it through Fridley in 1864.

In 1879, the Minnesota State Legislature, of which Abram M. Fridley was still a member, changed the township’s name to bear his last name.

20th century
In 1949, the Fridley Township was incorporated as the Village of Fridley. The Fridley Free Press was also established. A lawsuit that challenged the incorporation of the village caused the funds to be frozen. Minnesota state law allowed cities to operate municipal liquor stores following the end of Prohibition. The Fridley Liquor store proceeds were the primary funding for the daily city operations until the lawsuit was resolved in 1950. In Minnesota there are both private liquor stores or city-owned municipal liquor stores. Fridley is the location of the headquarters of the Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association (MMBA), a lobbying coalition for municipalities with city-owned liquor stores. In conjunction with the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, they lobbied against Sunday liquor store sales in Minnesota until it was finally permitted in 2017.

In 1957, the village became as the City of Fridley, a “home rule charter city”. The City Hall at 6431 University Avenue Northeast is dedicated with fire station, city services and council meetings. A newer fire station is built in 1964. The city population grew past 15,000 in the 1950s and peaked over 30,000 by the 1970s.

1965 Flood and Tornadoes
Two of the worst disasters to hit the city happened within weeks of each other. In April 1965, all of Minnesota was affected by a “500 year flood”. The spring 1965 flood on the Upper Mississippi is still the flood of record for from about 100 miles north of Minneapolis, Minnesota to Hannibal, Missouri. The crests of that April exceeded previous records by several feet at many river gauge sites. Those record crests still exceed the second highest crest by a foot or more at many of those same sites. An ice jam rising 24 feet over the river broke up when it rammed a series of ice breakers above the Sartell Dam. The Riverview Heights area where Springbrook creek enters the river was severely flooded.

On May 6, 1965, Fridley was hit by two F4 tornadoes. One out of every four homes in the city was destroyed or damaged. The second twister that hit was the deadliest storm in Twin Cities history (see 1965 Twin Cities tornado outbreak), which killed a total of 13 people. Portions of the City Hall and Fire Station were damaged.

In 1967 the new Civic Center Building opens at the City Hall location with a plaza located to the south. This building was remodeled in 1989. The building was demolished in 2019.

Springbrook Nature Center and tornado
In 1970, Fridley began purchasing land which would become the Springbrook Nature Center. On July 18, 1986, a widely photographed tornado spent 16 minutes in Springbrook Nature Center, destroying thousands of century old trees and extensive areas of mature forest habitat. Well-known aerial footage of the tornado was filmed by a KARE 11 television news helicopter passing through the area.

21st century
In 2001, Medtronic opened its new World Headquarters on the site of the 100 Twin Drive-in at Interstate 694 and Minnesota Highway 65.[26] As of 2019, it is still the Operational Headquarters for the Medtronic, PLC, which re-organized as an Irish company in 2015.

On June 19, 2003, President George W. Bush visited the Micro Controls company in Fridley. He was promoting one of the tax relief changes made during his administration.[27][28] He flew into Minnesota for only a few hours on Air Force One before returning to Washington.

In the early 2000s, the Minnesota Sports Cafe was a notable venue for Mixed martial arts competitions. Fighters who have claimed victories in Fridley include Sean Sherk, Nick Thompson, Brock Larson, Marcus LeVesseur, Brian Ebersole, and Harry Moskowitz.

On September 21, 2005, Fridley was struck by straight-line winds exceeding 80 mph (130 km/h), toppling many old growth trees as large as 2.5 feet (0.76 m) in diameter and in turn, destroying dozens of homes and several vehicles. Cleanup efforts took as long as a week, leaving hundreds of residents stranded in their homes without power, unable to drive until streets were cleared of debris. This same storm also affected Brooklyn Center, New Brighton, Brooklyn Park, Coon Rapids, Spring Lake Park and Blaine, as well as other communities in the surrounding North Metro area.

Fridley has one of the first six stations of the Northstar Commuter Rail line connecting the northwest suburbs and downtown Minneapolis; the line opened in November 2009.[29]

On July 17, 2011, heavy rains caused a washout of the BNSF rail bridge over Rice Creek. A train derailed there, and sent hopper cars containing corn into the creek.[30] Traffic was rerouted for several days. In 2013, a Jury awarded damages from BNSF to the engineer and conductor of the train.[31]

The Columbia Arena, filming location for the Disney Movie D3: The Mighty Ducks, was demolished in 2016 to make way for a new City Hall It was a controversial issue in that it was expected to cost $50 million and increase homeowner taxes by nineteen percent The Fridley Civic Campus dedication at 7071 University Avenue NE was held on November 17, 2018. The staff had moved from the previous city hall over Veteran’s day weekend and began working there on November 12. The City Council approved the project in December 2016 after nearly three years of studies, meetings and workshops. The council raised the levy to pay for the project, increasing city taxes by about 16 percent for the average homeowner. A number of other Twin Cities suburbs updated their civic facilities during a 2018 “building boom of sorts”, including Eagan, New Hope, Minnetonka, and Burnsville.

The city received an allocation of US$1.52 million from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). The money was used to upgrade and repair its water distribution system and wastewater and storm water infrastructure. The city plans in 2022 to use the next allocation of $1.52 million to improve security at water treatment plants, rebuild its water distribution system, and on sanitary sewer and water quality projects.

Fridley is home to the Operational (formerly World) Headquarters of Ireland-based Medtronic plc. Medtronic also has a substantial Rice Creek business campus. Other major employers in Fridley include BAE Systems (formerly United Defense), Cummins, Unity Medical Center, part of the Allina Healthcare system, part of the Mercy Hospitals, Minco Products, Inc, Kurt Manufacturing Company, and Park Construction Company. Fridley is also home to a Target Stores retail distribution center. Magnum Research, a company that produces the Desert Eagle firearm, had its headquarters in Fridley until 2010.

Both Minneapolis and Saint Paul draw their municipal water supplies from the Mississippi River at Fridley, which is upstream. The City of Minneapolis Waterworks plant and Fire Department training facility are within the city of Fridley.

In the 2000 census data, there were 11,542 more jobs in Fridley than the number of workers age 16 and over. However, most Fridley residents work outside of Fridley. The most common place of employment for Fridley residents is not Fridley. It is other cities in Hennepin County and, secondly, Minneapolis. Only 21% of the 15,221 Fridley residents in the work force in 2000 were actually working in Fridley’s borders. Fridley saw a decline in the number of jobs from 26,763 in 2000 to 23,845 in 2006 according to the city economic plan report.

Parks and Recreation
Fridley is home to the 127-acre (0.51 km2) Springbrook Nature Center park and nature reserve on its northern border with Coon Rapids. The total Fridley city park space is 316 acres (1.28 km2). There are baseball and softball diamonds, football and soccer fields, basketball courts, and tennis courts for sports. In the winter there are outdoor skating rinks with warming houses. The western border of Fridley comprises the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Portions of islands within the recreation area are within the Fridley city limits.

Fridley has the following Anoka County parks within the city:

  • Manomin County Park (Rice Creek where it enters the Mississippi River and Locke Lake)
  • Rice Creek West/Locke Park and Regional Trail (Rice Creek)
  • Islands of Peace County Park (Mississippi River)
  • Anoka County Riverfront Regional Park (Mississippi River)

Interstate 694 and Minnesota State Highways 47 and 65 are three of the main automobile routes in the city. East River Road is one of the oldest roads in the state as a Minnesota Territorial road. It was part of the Red River Trails Woods trail. The I-694 Bridge, joining Fridley to Brooklyn Center, is the only crossing of the Mississippi River within the city.

The BNSF Railway main Northern transcontinental Twin Cities to Portland/Seattle double track line passes through Fridley as part of the Staples Subdivision. The Fridley Station is served by the Northstar Commuter Rail line running on the BNSF tracks into Minneapolis. The Amtrak Empire Builder passes through Fridley twice daily on this line, but does not stop within the city. The massive BNSF Northtown Classification Yards are located in the city. The Minnesota Commercial Railway also serves Fridley, with a terminal warehouse located there.

BNSF Northtown Classification Yard
The Mississippi River is non-navigable for barge traffic north of the Canadian Pacific Camden Place Rail Bridge; however, small boats can travel upstream to the Coon Rapids Dam without a portage. There is a boat landing for small boats in the river near Interstate 694 at the Anoka County Riverfront Regional Park.

The Anoka County–Blaine Airport serves the area and is located in neighboring Blaine.

Fridley has the nickname “Friendly Fridley”. The nickname was spread further by a long-running series of advertisements on various radio stations for a local car dealer. The announcer would direct people to “Friendly Chevrolet up in Friendly Fridley”.

The city festival is named “49’er” days, which commemorates the 1949 incorporation. It is usually held in mid June.

Notable People

  • Bill Antonello – Major League Baseball player
  • Gordon Backlund -Minnesota State Politician
  • Connie Bernardy -Minnesota State Politician
  • Don Betzold – Minnesota State Politician
  • Satveer Chaudhary – Minnesota State Politician
  • L. Joseph Connors – Minnesota State Politician
  • Chris Dahlquist -Professional Hockey NHL Player
  • Ducky DooLittle – Sex educator
  • Brooke Elliott – actress
  • Mike Erlandson – Businessman
  • Abram M. Fridley – Minnesota State Politician and namesake of the city
  • Thomas E. Greig – Minnesota State Politician
  • Larry Hosch – Minnesota State Politician
  • Jon Melander – Professional Football NFL player
  • Donald Savelkoul – Minnesota State Politician and Lawyer
  • Don Simensen – Professional Football NFL player
  • Wayne Simoneau – Minnesota State Politician
  • Tom Tillberry – Minnesota State Politician
  • Rose Totino – Businesswoman
  • Warren Johnson – Former NHRA Drag Racer and Champion
  • Cory Wong – Guitar Player


“Fridley, Minnesota” │,_Minnesota

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