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Stories about Minneapolis parks
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    Charles Loring was the first to sound the alarm about businesses across Lake Street from the Lake Calhoun Bath House, but no one put the criticism so bluntly as Theodore Wirth. Four days after the official dedication of the new bath house — with changing rooms, lockers and showers, not to mention $10,000 worth of sand […]

    parkhistorianCalhoun Beach Club 1940durban2parkhistorianCalhoun Beach Club 1940durban2

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    The letters Theodore Wirth wrote to his friends during his 1936 around-the-world voyage, which included a quote on the Calhoun Beach Club, reveal little about Minneapolis parks, but quite a bit about the man. When Wirth retired as Minneapolis park superintendent in 1935 — he was forced to retire due to civil service age rules — […]

    parkhistorianparkhistorian

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    If you’re a long-time follower of Minneapolis politics, you might think this headline came from the 1988 fight to prevent a high-rise building from being constructed next to the Calhoun Beach Club facing Lake Calhoun. But you have to go back much farther in history to get to the first city ordinance to restrict construction […]

    parkhistorianGates Mansion 2501 E. Lake of the Isles Hibbard 10-12-1916 I.133.1Turnblad residence, 2600 Park Avenue ca. 1905 MH5.9 MP3.2f p91Fair Oaks, Stevens and Second, ca. 1917 MH5.9 MP3.2f r27parkhistorianGates Mansion 2501 E. Lake of the Isles Hibbard 10-12-1916 I.133.1Turnblad residence, 2600 Park Avenue ca. 1905 MH5.9 MP3.2f p91Fair Oaks, Stevens and Second, ca. 1917 MH5.9 MP3.2f r27

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    The newspaper headline hinted of a sordid affair: “Long Line Waits Grimly in Courthouse Corridor.” Many were so young they should have been in school. Others had skipped work. They stood anxiously in the dim hallway, waiting. News accounts put their numbers at 500 when the clock struck 8:30 that April morning. Many had already been there […]

    parkhistorianCanoes on Lake of the Isles 1911 altLake Harriet Canoe House Plan 1912Canoes for rent at Lake Harriet ca. 1912 Canoes on Lake Harriet at night 1914parkhistorianCanoes on Lake of the Isles 1911 altLake Harriet Canoe House Plan 1912Canoes for rent at Lake Harriet ca. 1912 Canoes on Lake Harriet at night 1914

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  • 09/12/12--11:40: 1955 Was a Very Dry Year
  • It’s not a common sight. I’d never seen it myself until I saw this picture from Fairchild Aerial Surveys taken in 1955. St. Anthony Falls is completely dry. Water levels were down everywhere at the time. Meteorological charts list 1955 as the 13th driest year on record in Minneapolis, but a look at longer-term data […]

    parkhistorian1955 Fairchild St. Anthony Falls dry1955 Fairchild Meeker Lock Soo Line RR bridge resizedLagoon between Isles and Calhoun 1960parkhistorian1955 Fairchild St. Anthony Falls dry1955 Fairchild Meeker Lock Soo Line RR bridge resizedLagoon between Isles and Calhoun 1960

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    A couple of months ago I posted photos of a toboggan slide at Lake Harriet in 1914. Now I’ve rediscovered a description I had saved long ago of a toboggan slide from an earlier time on a Minneapolis lake. The Makwa Club — makwa is the Ojibwe word for “bear” — built a toboggan slide at Lake Calhoun in 1888, according […]

    parkhistorianNorth Star toboggan chute, Glenwood Hill MH5.9 MP4.1 r145parkhistorianNorth Star toboggan chute, Glenwood Hill MH5.9 MP4.1 r145

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    One of my favorite photos of Lake Calhoun. The photo is undated, but I would estimate that it was taken in the late 1910s. The view indicates it was taken from the Minikahda Club on the west side of the lake looking northeast toward downtown. The photo was taken after the Lake Calhoun Bath House (center) was completed […]

    parkhistorianLake Calhoun's northwest shore and Bath House in late 1910s. Photo taken from Minikahda Club. (Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board)parkhistorianLake Calhoun's northwest shore and Bath House in late 1910s. Photo taken from Minikahda Club. (Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board)

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  • 06/11/13--07:51: Approaching Lake Calhoun
  • Two photos from the 1950s, and two that are much older, show how people got to Lake Calhoun once upon a time. Both photos are from the Minnesota Historical Society’s online collection. I haven’t written about that collection in some time, but I continue to use it extensively for research on Minneapolis parks and other historical subjects. You […]

    parkhistorianTravelling west on Lake St. at Dean Parkway. West Calhoun Pakrway begins at far left. (Norton and Peel, Minnesota Historical Society)Aerial view of the American Hardware Mutual Insurance Company building. Excelsior Blvd. is in the foreground. 1956. (Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune, Minnesota Historical Society)36th Strret approaching teh southestern corner of Lake Calhoun. 1955. (Norton and Peel, Minnesota Historical Society)In this photo of East Calhoun Parkway in about 189, you can see the bridge foundation at the extremeright, where one carriage is turning onto 36th Street. The fountain in the boulevard for watering horses  was an interesting touch.(Minnesota Historical Society)The end of Calhoun Parkway at the south end of Lake Calhoun in 1905. The road turned to the right, the future William Berry Parkway, connecting to Lake Harriet. (Minnesota Historical Society)The north shore of Lake Calhoun from Lake Street, facing west in about 1902.parkhistorianTravelling west on Lake St. at Dean Parkway. West Calhoun Pakrway begins at far left. (Norton and Peel, Minnesota Historical Society)Aerial view of the American Hardware Mutual Insurance Company building. Excelsior Blvd. is in the foreground. 1956. (Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune, Minnesota Historical Society)36th Strret approaching teh southestern corner of Lake Calhoun. 1955. (Norton and Peel, Minnesota Historical Society)In this photo of East Calhoun Parkway in about 189, you can see the bridge foundation at the extremeright, where one carriage is turning onto 36th Street. The fountain in the boulevard for watering horses was an interesting touch.(Minnesota Historical Society)The end of Calhoun Parkway at the south end of Lake Calhoun in 1905. The road turned to the right, the future William Berry Parkway, connecting to Lake Harriet. (Minnesota Historical Society)The north shore of Lake Calhoun from Lake Street, facing west in about 1902.

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    Julieann Swanson, Assistant Curator of Digital Collections and Archives at the University of Minnesota’s College of Design  just sent a fabulous photo of the Lake Street, Dean Parkway, and West Calhoun Parkway intersection from about 1956 in response to my post earlier today. See Julieann’s comments on that post for more information on this photo and […]

    parkhistorianLooking west on Lake Street at the intersection of Dean Parkway and West Calhoun Parkway. (University of Minnesota, Digital Content Library)parkhistorianLooking west on Lake Street at the intersection of Dean Parkway and West Calhoun Parkway. (University of Minnesota, Digital Content Library)

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    NOTE: The following outline and photos introduce the important role of Lake Harriet in the creation and growth of the Minneapolis park system. While much of this information is familiar to Minneapolis residents, I prepared this presentation for students visiting Minneapolis today from University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. I thought other readers of minneapolisparkhistory.com might enjoy the images and information […]

    parkhistorianHorace Cleveland proposed this system of parks and parkways in 1883. (Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board)First pavilion built on the Lake Harriet shoreline in 1892. The pavilion ws designed by Harry Wild Jones. (Minnesota Historical Society)The park board's boats for rent next to the Lake Harriet pavilion in 1895. (Minnesota Historical Society)Lake Harriet pavilion and boat dock, 1905View from the bandstand on top of the Lake Harriet Pavlion in 1905. (Minnesota Historical Society)The crowd attanding a concert on the pavilion roof in 1912. Photographed from the stage. (Charles J. Hibbard, Minnesota Historical Society)This is one of my favorite park photos. It shows bicycle paths around Lake Harriet in 1896. Notice that the layout of walking path, bicycle path and carriage way, there were no cars yet, is almost identical to today. (Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board)parkhistorianHorace Cleveland proposed this system of parks and parkways in 1883. (Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board)First pavilion built on the Lake Harriet shoreline in 1892. The pavilion ws designed by Harry Wild Jones. (Minnesota Historical Society)The park board's boats for rent next to the Lake Harriet pavilion in 1895. (Minnesota Historical Society)Lake Harriet pavilion and boat dock, 1905View from the bandstand on top of the Lake Harriet Pavlion in 1905. (Minnesota Historical Society)The crowd attanding a concert on the pavilion roof in 1912. Photographed from the stage. (Charles J. Hibbard, Minnesota Historical Society)This is one of my favorite park photos. It shows bicycle paths around Lake Harriet in 1896. Notice that the layout of walking path, bicycle path and carriage way, there were no cars yet, is almost identical to today. (Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board)

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    I have neglected these pages in recent months, yet I have so many good park stories to tell, some of them from readers. I will get to them soon I hope. In the last eight months I have discovered more fascinating information about Minneapolis parks and the people who created themthan at any time since […]

    parkhistorianA promotional envelope used by a Minneapolis merchant. One of the objectives of the Civic Celebration was to give businesses an opportunity to contact, perhaps entertain and certainly solicit business from their clients throughout the region.Teh back of teh envelope is an advertsiemen tfor Minneapolis, and from my perspective the lede is inot buried.parkhistorianA promotional envelope used by a Minneapolis merchant. One of the objectives of the Civic Celebration was to give businesses an opportunity to contact, perhaps entertain and certainly solicit business from their clients throughout the region.Teh back of teh envelope is an advertsiemen tfor Minneapolis, and from my perspective the lede is inot buried.

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    If you have read my history of the Minneapolis park system, City of Parks, you may recall that Charles Loring’s efforts to acquire land around lakes Harriet, Isles and Calhoun remain a subject of speculation. No one has ever found a clear strategy or well-documented plan by Loring, the first president of the Minneapolis Board of Park […]

    parkhistorianEPSON MFP imageFlorence Barton1912 ca. Falls ScottparkhistorianEPSON MFP imageFlorence Barton1912 ca. Falls Scott

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    I acquired this photograph because it’s the only one I’ve seen of an outlet from Lake Calhoun. But in light of today’s public tours of Lakewood Cemetery’s greenhouses I looked at the picture differently. Until I was told by Katie Thornton at Lakewood that the cemetery once had six huge greenhouses I had no idea what […]

    parkhistorianEPSON MFP imageparkhistorianEPSON MFP image

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    Efforts to eradicate the name Lake Calhoun and replace it with Bde Maka Ska have generated a great deal of discussion and passion on many sides. The usage of the recommended new name and its meaning and pronunciation have been badly muddled, however, which confuses the issues unnecessarily. Let me, a non-Dakota speaker, try to clarify. […]

    parkhistorianLake Calhoun aerial 1aparkhistorianLake Calhoun aerial 1a

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    The first golf course in Minneapolis was not Minikahda. A year before Minikahda opened, many of its members, Minneapolis’s highest society, played at a course much closer to the central city. The first Minneapolis golf course and club were in Bryn Mawr. The course didn’t last long, a little more than 10 years, but it […]

    parkhistorian1898 women golfing at Bryn MawrGolf costumes around 1900Minikahda Waterfrontparkhistorian1898 women golfing at Bryn MawrGolf costumes around 1900Minikahda Waterfront