The Automobile Club of America, predecessor to the American Automobile Association, met for the first time in New York on October 16, 1899.
The American Automobile Association was formed in 1902 in Chicago. The Automobile Club of Minneapolis was formed in the fall, its stated objectives being “the instruction and mutual improvement in the art of automobilism and the literary and social culture of its members.” One of the reasons that Automobile Associations were being formed around the country was harassment from farmers and city officials, some of whom passed speed limits as low as… 10 miles per hour… Opposition came from farmers whose horses were spooked by the “devil wagons,” buggy and wagon makers, and blacksmiths, although the latter transitioned into automobile mechanics.
In 1907 local Automobile Associations combined to form the Minnesota State Automobile Association, its purpose to procure “fair and equitable automobile legislation and Good Roads for Minnesota.”
In 1911 members of the Automobile Club of Minneapolis built the AAA Auto Club Country Club at Bloomington-on-the-Minnesota, which became a dinner and dancing spot for Club members. Members built a road to the location from Minneapolis. It was rebuilt in 1919 after a fire.
AAA copyrighted its first map in 1912. Rand McNally, a Chicago cartographer, issued his first national road atlas in 1924.
Hungry for good roads, automobile associations were shelling out their own money to build them. In 1913, the Minneapolis Automobile Club spent several thousand dollars to grade, oil, and improve roads in Hennepin County.
AAA’s first emergency road service was started by the Automobile Club of Missouri in 1915, and spread across the country by the late 1920s.
The original location of AAA Minneapolis was in the Radisson Hotel and later the Plaza Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. In 1922 it was moved to a townhouse at 13th and LaSalle. In the 50s, the townhouse was demolished and the operation moved to a remodeled auto agency next door. That, in turn, was overtaken by the Loring-Nicollet redevelopment.
In 1976 AAA Minneapolis built a new building on a four-acre lot at 5400 Auto Club Way in the Park. The building faces Park Center Drive. The 35,000 square ft. building was designed by Setter, Leach, and Lindstrom, Inc.
Also see Automotive Milestones.