Lost Minneapolis Parks: A Fifth Prospect Park Triangle
A fifth Prospect Park triangle was added to Minneapolis parks inventory in 1919 when the City Council turned over a 0.03-acre triangle at the intersection of Bedford Street and University Avenue S.E. The Minneapolis Board of Park Commissioners (BPC) instructed the superintendent to plant shrubbery on the triangle and to maintain it. It was named Midway Triangle. The City Council must have forgotten that it gave the land to the BPC — or ignored the fact — because in November 1944 the BPC adopted a resolution that “inasmuch as the intersection of University Avenue and Bedford Street, including what was formerly Midway Triangle, has been paved,” it was turning over the land to the City Council. There is still a remnant of the triangle at the intersection, just enough curbed space to hold a traffic signal, a light post and some signs.
The entire neighborhood might have looked quite different if the Minneapolis park board had acted on John Pillsbury’s proposal in 1887. Pillsbury was the former Governor of Minnesota and former Minneapolis park commissioner and still the president of the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents at the time, who had just donated a $150,000 building to the University. He proposed that University Avenue be made a parkway from Central Ave. to the county line (the boundary with St Paul) and that from Oak Street east the parkway be 120 feet wide, or more than 50% wider than it is now.
That might have been spectacular, but it is also possible that a parkway on University Avenue would have suffered the same fate as early parkways on Hennepin Avenue from Loring Park to Lakewood Cemetery and Lyndale Avenue North from Loring Park to Farview Park. They were eventually abandoned by the BPC as parkways and returned to the control of the City of Minneapolis, because they carried too much traffic to be true parkways. I suspect the same would have happened to a parkway on University Avenue; it was a major thoroughfare. But it’s fun to speculate and try to picture a beautiful wide boulevard approaching the University of Minnesota from the east — in the shadow of Tower Hill.
David C. Smith minneapolisparkhistory[at]q.com