Native Americans traveled, settled and traded along the Minnesota River in Bloomington for centuries. The river also brought occasional European explorers and traders. In the 1820s, Fort Snelling became the first European settlement at the nearby confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. With the fort nearby, some of the earliest settlers in Bloomington were missionaries who came to convert the resident Native Americans.
In the 1850s, Bloomington began to be settled by Europeans and converted to agricultural uses. On May 11, 1858, on the same day Minnesota became a state, the town of Bloomington was established. Bloomington remained primarily agricultural for a century, raising produce for the growing nearby cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
In the 1950s, Bloomington became the classic American “boom town” and its population soared from 9,900 in 1950 to 50,500 in 1960, the same year voters approved the village of Bloomington’s transformation to a city. Bloomington added amenities, businesses, infrastructure and schools to keep up with the growing demand.
School enrollment in Bloomington was 700 in 1945 and peaked at 26,000 in 1971. Today public school enrollment is more than 9,700 and the city is home to three colleges/universities, two early childhood education centers, ten elementary schools, three middle schools, two high schools, four private schools and three charter schools.
The Bloomington volunteer fire department, established in 1947 with 25 members at a cost of $24,000, will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2022. Today there are six fire stations and 109 paid-on-call firefighters, many who are second and third generation volunteers.
The Bloomington Police Department was formed with three officers in 1953 at a cost of $2 per taxpayer. That same year, the first traffic signal was installed at the intersection of 98th Street and Lyndale Avenue. Today the police department has 114 sworn officers.
Located along the Minnesota River, almost a third of the City has been preserved for conservation, public and recreation uses. The first City parks, Bush Lake Beach and Moir Park were created in 1954. Today the City of Bloomington parks and recreation system is extensive with 97 parks, natural areas, 45 playgrounds, 2 golf courses, regional parks, cultural resources, and special use facilities including the Bloomington Ice Garden, Center for the Arts and the Family Aquatic Center.
In 1956, the $8.5 million Metropolitan Stadium opened and became best known as the home of the Twins and Vikings. Many games later in 1982, when Minnesota's pro baseball and football teams moved out of Bloomington, redevelopment resulted in Mall of America, one of the most visited destinations in the United States. Hospitality is now Bloomington’s number one industry with more than 9,700 hotel rooms in the city.
Today, Bloomington is a dynamic urban center with nearly 90,000 residents and a workforce of 84,000 employees. The city’s central location in the metropolitan area, proximity to freeways and to a major international hub airport resulted in a strong and diverse economy with a mix of commerce and industry. Bloomington is an important economic engine for Minnesota and a major tourist destination for the Upper Midwest.
With an excellent location and well trained workforce, many great companies have grown and prospered in Bloomington. Today, Bloomington serves as headquarters for businesses both large and small including Toro, Donaldson, Health Partners and many others.
Bloomington is one of only 40 cities out of more than 19,000 municipal governments in the U.S. that have achieved three triple-A ratings—the highest ratings from three bond ratings agencies for fiscal management. Bloomington is currently the only Minnesota city to hold all three highest ratings. Excellent bond ratings signal to current and potential investors that the City’s financial future is strong and ensure that interest costs remain low. They also signal to businesses and individuals that Bloomington is a financially healthy community.
Bloomington provides excellent transit connections. The city hosts the busiest transit station in Minnesota, in addition to Blue Line light rail transit trains, and Red Line, Orange Line and D-Line bus rapid transit stations.
Now Minnesota’s fourth largest city, Bloomington is growing rapidly. Desirable new housing options are popping up throughout the city to support Bloomington’s growing work force. As Bloomington grows, the City is focused on using creative placemaking to foster vibrant neighborhoods that are interwoven with public art, parks, trails, restaurants, taprooms and opportunities to enjoy the company of others. The focus will be to continue making improvements that will renew and shape the community to ensure that Bloomington remains a high quality place to live, work, do business and visit for years to come.