Welcome to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul for the 1995 SAA Annual Meeting, May 3-7! The weather has a good chance of being balmy and springlike, with tulips and lilacs blooming. The new Hilton Hotel and Towers is in the heart of Minneapolis -- the City of Lakes -- just a block off Nicollet Mall and four blocks from the IDS Tower and Crystal Court, which until recent years dominated the Minneapolis skyline. The city has grown and changed since 1982, when SAA was last in town. However, there is still a strong emphasis on culture and the arts, and you are likely to encounter some of that famous "Minnesota nice."
To satisfy every taste Minneapolis nightlife offers everything from comedy to jazz to world-class restaurants. Many nightspots are within a one-mile radius of the hotel. The Warehouse District, a renovated industrial area close to downtown, has its own collection of restaurants and night spots, including the Fine Line Music Cafe. The Uptown area, a taxi or bus ride away from the hotel, is our "new age" district catering to both the fashionable and the funky customer. Except for the Uptown area and parts of the Warehouse District, almost everything is connected by a network of skyways that will protect you from the cold or the rain. A number of convenient lunchtime eateries are reached via skyway, too. Your registration packet will include a list of restaurants, both convenient and exotic (from Afghani to Vietnamese), being prepared by the local advisory committee.
If you want sports, there is the Target Center where the Timberwolves play basketball. The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome is home to the Twins, the Vikings, and the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. Who knows, there might even be a baseball season this year!
For the shopping enthusiast, the Nicollet Mall is a 12-block transit/pedestrian street with fountains, landscaping, street furniture, boutiques, and department stores, anchored by Dayton's across from the IDS Tower. At some point during the week, you will probably want to go to the Mall of America, the largest single-structure mall in the United States, just so you can say you've been there. The "Megamall" is about 20 minutes south of Minneapolis in Bloomington, not far from Twin Cities International Airport and worth the trip, even if you're not a shopper. There are movies, entertainment, great restaurants, and an amusement park, Camp Snoopy, right under one roof. There is even an entire store just for Legos, complete with life-size, moving Lego figures.
If you want a break from the urban scene without really leaving it, there are 22 lakes and 153 parks woven together by a 45-mile system of paved paths. There are separate biking and walking paths around many of the lakes and combination paths in most other areas. Some of the lakes, including Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet in south Minneapolis, are big enough for sailing and wind surfing. Minnesota has the highest per capita boat ownership in the country. You can also rent inline skates, bicycles, or canoes near the Uptown area on Lake Street. A drive along either side of River Road overlooking the Mississippi River starting at the University of Minnesota is quite spectacular. Another interesting view of the river and the history of Minneapolis as a city lies just 12 blocks north of the Hilton at St. Anthony Falls, the only true waterfall on the Mississippi River. There you can walk or bike across the Mississippi on the newly restored Stone Arch Bridge or climb up to the observation room overlooking the lock and dam. This is also an urban archaeological site, exploring the early history of the mill district (as in flour), which you can tour with SHPO Archaeologist Scott Anfinson and Minnesota Historical Society staff on Wednesday or Sunday. Riverboat tours are available from both Minneapolis and St. Paul.
For the art-minded archaeologist, St. Paul boasts the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, whose new artistic director is Bobby McFarrin, and the Ordway Music Theater, both as top-notch as their Minneapolis counterparts. And who would come to the Twin Cities without thinking about Garrison Keillor and the Prairie Home Companion radio show in the World Theater, now the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theater, next to the Science Museum? Yes, he's in town for the Saturday night broadcast, which runs from 5 to 7 p.m. For tickets, call Ticketmaster at (612) 989-5151. There would be just enough time to squeeze it in between the SAA public session lectures on Native American and archaeological perspectives on sacred sites and the SAA plenary, both of which will be outstanding sessions back at the Hilton.
In St. Paul, "Lowertown" is where to go for restaurants, coffee houses, art galleries, food shops, comedy galleries, and Mears Park, a wonderful place to stroll, talk, or just relax. St. Paul also has its own brewery, boasting Landmark and Pigs Eye beer.
This is just a smattering of the options in the Twin Cities. Your registration packet will have more detailed lists of restaurants, activities, nightspots, and other points of interest.
There are also several SAA excursions for those who want to see some of the sites around Minneapolis and St. Paul and in Minnesota. Check your preliminary program for details on all of the special events, most of which require preregistration.
On Wednesday, May 3, there are two options for all-day excursions for SAA members. One is to Jeffers Petroglyphs, a rock art site in southwestern Minnesota, led by Bob Clouse of the Minnesota Historical Society. This tour, and a site visit for the public on the previous Sunday as part of Minnesota Archaeology Week, may be the only opportunity for several years to see this site, while planning for a new visitor's center gets underway. The second all-day trip is to Red Wing, Minnesota (home of Red Wing Shoes), to explore a thousand years of land- use relationships in the Upper Mississippi River valley, including several Mississippian sites under study by the Institute for Minnesota Archaeology, led by Clark Dobbs, who will serve as guide for the day.
Special tours to historic Fort Snelling will be offered for SAA members on Friday and Sunday (the latter can be coordinated with your flight home, if you plan ahead). Costumed interpreters will be on hand at this reconstructed 1820s military post, and an added attraction for Archaeology Week and the SAA meetings will be a functioning Roman-era iron ore smelting operation, which promises to keep dozens of volunteers from the University of Minnesota and elsewhere busy tending it all week and interpreting it for the public.
Here's hoping your visit to Minnesota in May is even better than Anaheim, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Las Vegas, and all the other past SAA meetings combined!
Phyllis Messenger is with the Institute for Minnesota Archaeology and Ken Liss is at the University of Minnesota. Both are on the SAA Local Arrangements Committee.