Friday Photos: Thousands of Historical Aerial Views
The closest thing to time travel. That’s what today’s photo recommendation gives you through more than 100,000 photos that allow you to track the growth of Minneapolis — and the rest of the state — from the sky.
I’m not aware of any larger local source of aerial photography than Minnesota Historical Aerial Photos Online (MHAPO). The collection is part of the John Borchert Map Library at the University of Minnesota. It was created by Joseph Koeller in consultation with the Borchert Library staff.
For more recent aerial photos of many parts of Minneapolis and the metropolitan area, I go to the University of Minnesota’s Digital Content Library. Below are two photos from that collection using the search term “Minnehaha Park.” They provide a marvelous way to track changes in the landscape. The only shortcoming of this superb collection of images is that they are not dated.
Note that both photos were taken before Hiawatha Avenue was expanded and put under a land bridge at Minnehaha Parkway (upper right corner of the photos) in the 1990s. Had the Minnesota highway department had its way, the horizontal stretch of green near the top of the picture would have become an elevated freeway in the 1960s. The Minneapolis park board went all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court in a successful effort to block that freeway. That is an important story of true park heroes, such as Robert Ruhe, Walter Carpenter, Ed Gearty and others, which I hope to tell in greater detail soon.
Some of the photos and maps in the Digital Content Library collection require login to see more than a thumbnail, but many permit viewing in greater detail by the general public.
It’s worth noting that both the Borchert and Digital Content Library collections are the product of our state university — a demonstration that all of us can benefit from the presence of a major university in our community. Our taxes at work! Yeah, I complain about taxes too, but things like parks and libraries and universities and historical societies contribute enormously to the richness of our lives. My life anyway. Nearly all the resources I draw on to produce these articles are public resources. They are available to all without charge. They are an important part of our heritage — and, I hope, our legacy.
David C. Smith minneapolisparkhistory[at]q.com
© David C. Smith 2013