St. Anthony Falls — Minneapolis
Sure, St. Anthony Falls may lack the beauty of the Twin Cities’ other famed urban cascade, the postcard-perfect Minnehaha Falls. And yes, it’s hard to classify St. Anthony Falls as “natural.” After all, the falls themselves technically consist of a concrete overflow spillway erected in the late 1860s following years of irreversible damage brought on by erosion and increased industry (logging, textile manufacturing and flour production) along the banks of the Upper Mississippi River.
Yet there’s no denying the city-birthing power of St. Anthony Falls, an iconic hydropower source-cum-19th century tourist attraction that yielded not one but two towns, Minneapolis on the west bank of the Mississippi, and the east bank, St. Anthony, which was merged into Minneapolis in 1872.
Today, St. Anthony Falls, the 17th largest waterfall in the world, is integrated into the busy urban fabric of Minneapolis. The falls, along with its mid-20th century lock and hydroelectric dam system, can be best enjoyed by biking or hiking the St. Anthony FallsHeritage Trail. Located entirely within the National Register of Historic Places-listed St. Anthony Falls Historic District, this two-mile self-guided tour passes through many of the must-see riverfront sights including the landmark Stone Arch Bridge, Nicolett Island, Jean Nouvel’s Guthrie Theater, the old Pillsbury A-Mill, historic Main Street and Mill Ruins Park.