Friday Photo: Forgotten Field on Nicollet Island

Funny that in all the debate a few years ago about the football “stadium” for DeLaSalle High School on Nicollet Island, I don’t recall seeing the photo below of the island in 1947. I discovered this photo in Borchert Library’s Minnesota Historical Aerial Photos Online that I wrote about last week.

Nicollet Island clearly had a baseball field adjacent to the high school long before the park board acquired much of the island.

Nicollet Island, 1947, with a baseball field in the middle. (John R. Borchert Map Library, University of Minnesota)

Detail of Nicollet Island, 1947, with a baseball field in the middle. For the full image go here, then click on the green push-pin north of Nicollet Island. (John R. Borchert Map Library, University of Minnesota)

I do recall great distress caused by the possibility of closing “historic” Grove Street across the center of the island in order to install the football field. But no one mentioned then that the eastern half of Grove Street that was to be closed had been historically (among other things) the left field fence of a baseball field. I had no idea. The things you learn from photos.

The photo demonstrates that some claims from both sides of the football field argument were wrong. Those who opposed the field in part for fear of losing a historic street were more than 60 years late to that argument. On the other hand, those who claimed that DeLaSalle, in its 100-year history, had never had a home athletic field were wrong, too. Maybe they didn’t have a football field to call home, although it looks as though one might have been squeezed in there in the ’40s, but they obviously did have a home baseball field at one time.

For the earliest plans for a park on Nicollet Island see previous posts on Horace Bushnell, the first person to suggest it, and the first ideas for parks upriver from St. Anthony Falls.

I don’t know who actually owned or maintained the field in the 1940s. Something to investigate. Some old “D” yearbooks must have more photos.

David C. Smith

© 2013 David C. Smith

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2 comments so far

  1. Pat on

    I don’t think anyone said DLS never had a home “athletic” field. Even before the football stadium was approved, they played softball in that space pointed out above. Home plate was in that picture’s right-field corner, and of course, an entire building of classrooms and gymnasium built in the 1950s was there as well.


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