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Minneapolis in the Modern Era: 1930-1975

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In 2018 the City of Minneapolis' (a Certified Local Government) Community Planning and Economic Development division received a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage grant to develop a context that provides the necessary historical framework for identifying and evaluating the city's midcentury modern resources. The final document titled Minneapolis in the Modern Era: 1930-1975 explores themes specifically related to the built environment during the 45-year defined time span.

The time period defined by the context as "midcentury" is 1930 to 1975. For the purposes of this study the era begins in 1930 with the introduction of New Deal programs, which represented a dramatic shift in federal regulatory power and had, consequently, a significant impact on the modern era. The study ends in 1975, which coincides with, among other things, the end of the Vietnam War and the development of the Energy Crisis, which curbed investment and development throughout the country. Themes explored in the document include: The Great Depression, The New Deal, and World War Two; Business and Industry; Urban Renewal, Interstate Highways, and Historic Preservation; Residential Development; Education; Religion; Arts, Culture, and Recreation; and Architecture and Architects. Furthermore, the authors of the context suggest specific, in-depth context development of themes including the Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Rights Movement, the American Indian Movement, LGBTQ Twin Cities, and more recent immigrant communities. 

While the City of Minneapolis has a large collection of architect-designed buildings that are the focus of many studies, those properties, both commercial and residential, that are vernacular in style or less architecturally distinctive are not as well understood, even if they are far more common. A thorough understanding of these resources will allow the city to respond better to the increasing developmental pressures on these buildings, sites, structures, objects, and districts. As well as proactively preserve those properties that meet local or national designation requirements. The context helps to fill a gap in the existing knowledge of the designed environment and was a productive partnership between the City, the Minnesota Historical Society, and the State Historic Preservation Office.

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