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St. Paul , MN (Population: 279,879)

Saint Paul is the capital of Minnesota, and with an estimated population of 279,879 (2006), is the second most populous city in Minnesota. Between 2000 and 2004 the city lost approximately 9,000 citizens, which prompted a consideration by the U.S. Census bureau to refer to the St. Paul/Minneapolis area as simply, Minneapolis, although the cities are identified together as the Twin Cities. This suggestion prompted a mass outcry from the people and then from Mayor Norm Coleman. Unlike the city of Minneapolis, St. Paul has a more small-town, academic persona, with several small liberal arts colleges and a fierce adherence to tradition. The fastidious street level presentation of businesses and neighborhoods reflects the rejection of high-rise, glass sheathed architecture by city planners and residents.

Saint Paul supports a robust network of well-known colleges and universities that include the Metropolitan State University, Saint Paul College, College of Saint Catherine, William Mitchell College of Law, Concordia University, Hamline University, Macalester College, and the University of St. Thomas. The city is also home to several headquarters for corporations like St. Paul Travelers, St. Jude Medical, Ecolab, Patterson Dental and Veterinary Supply, Minnesota Life, Lawson Software, and Gander Mountain.

St. Paul has several neighborhoods and downtown areas, like Grand Avenue and the Cathedral Hill area, that offer a wide variety of boutiques, coffee houses, bakeries and restaurants. From upscale to down-home shops, St. Paul residents and visitors can find unique experiences like the College of Visual Arts, four-star dining at W.A. Frost or Moscow on the Hill, and the Saint Paul Curling Club, the largest member-owned club of its kind in the U.S.

The preservation and education of history can be found in many different forms throughout the city. At Indian Mounds Park, a series of Hopewell burial mounds thought to be over 2,000 years old tell of a time when the area was a thriving American Indian community. Other exhibits of history, science and culture can be found at the Traces Center for History and Culture, the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Minnesota Children's Museum, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, the Minnesota History Center, the Alexander Ramsey House, the James J. Hill House, and the Minnesota Transportation Museum.

Visual arts, theater and music are well-represented in St. Paul, with organizations and venues like The Como Park Conservatory, The Fitzgerald Theater, Artists' Quarter, The Saint Paul Chamber of Orchestra, RiverCentre, and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. Other St. Paul attractions include the Mississippi River, Lake Como, the Como Zoo and Conservatory, Rice Park, Battle Creek Regional Park, Harriet Island Regional Park, Highland Park, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, the Landmark Center, the Wabasha Street Caves, and the Cathedral of Saint Paul.