Minneapolis Park Memory: North to South

Minneapolis truly is a “City of Parks” for everyone — north, south, east , and west. As a ten-year-old tomboy in north Minneapolis, the neighbor kids and I would hike three miles to Glenwood Park, where we hunted for golf balls at the golf course, climbed the ski jump, and went wading in the creek until the golf workers would yell at us, “Hey, you little brats, get the heck out of that ‘crick’ NOW!” We would find a shady spot and dry off, giggling while eating our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Or we would hike along Victory Memorial Drive to the Camden Pool, where every kid in north Minneapolis came to swim or get a bath. It was jam-packed with grubby young bodies all day long! When I was twelve, we moved to south Minneapolis, the Nokomis Lake and Lake Hiawatha area, another neat area for having fun in the parks.

After marriage and four kids, it was my kids who kept up the “fun in the parks” tradition, especially at Minnehaha Park. They investigated every nook and cranny, often ending up at the Falls, where they would crawl down the steep banks to the bottom of the Falls and work their way behind the water falls so nobody could see them and then make scary sounds and howls when little kids came to look at the water falling. Down the path from the Falls to the river was a large tree on a high bank. My son found a sturdy branch to which he tied a long, 2″-wide rope. Then he crawled to the top of the bank, holding the rope firmly an gave a bloodcurdling “Tarzan” yell, swinging form the top of the bank to a small island in the river where he landed. All the kids had a good time with the “Tarzan tree.” There weren’t so many park police or restrictions to keep kids from getting into mischief in the 30s to 60s, but I don’t recall any accidents occurring.

Thanks to Theodore Wirth and the Minneapolis Park Board for their foresight and wonderful planning of our great park system. There is so much for our enjoyment, and it’s free.

Judy Knutson

Webber Pool, year unknown. From the time it was built in 1910 until 1927, water was diverted form Shingle Creek to fill the pool. Beginning in 1927 the pool used filtered and chlorinated city water. In the early years, boys and girls used the pool at different times. One reason for the high wall around the pool was to prevent boys and girls from watching each other swim. In the 1930s, more than 1,500 children under the age of 14 used the pool every summer day. (City of Parks, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board)

6 comments so far

  1. Wendy Hajicek on

    I always wondered why the public pool at Webber had such a high wall. Going there was like stepping back in time. The pool was crazy-busy with kids, and the high walls and high-ceilinged changing and shower areas echoed with all the happy screams.

    • David C. Smith on

      Thanks for your memories, Wendy. Webber Pool had to be one of most-loved park structures ever built. I talk to so many people who have such fond memories of the place.

  2. John Ericksen on

    I don’t see the “Nine-foot pool,” with diving boards and a diving tower. Anyone know when that was added? Although the “waterfall,” which was on the east end of the “Nine-foot pool,” is shown in a position that appears to be at the end of the pool that was five feet deep. The lifeguard stands were in the middle of where the fence railing is shown.

  3. Jim Krave on

    Why was the camden pool called the “John Deere Webber Baths”

    • David C. Smith on

      The John Deere Webber Baths was named in memory of the son of Charles C. and Mary Harris Webber, who donated the money to build the swimming pool and community center in what was then Camden Park in 1909. The Webber’s son had died at the age of 9. Charles Webber was the grandson of John Deere, the tractor and plow maker, and ran the Minneapolis branch of the John Deere Company. The Webbers also paid for a renovation of the park facilities in 1927. From the time of its construction until the 1927 renovation the swimming pool was filled with water from Shingle Creek. After that city water was used instead of creek water, which had become increasingly polluted. Camden Park was renamed Webber Park in 1939.

      For more on the history of Webber Park and all other Minneapolis parks visit http://minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=1152

      David C. Smith minneapolisparkhistory[at]q.com

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