Something’s Missing at Lake Harriet

After my post yesterday of Margaret Hall’s letter and a Minnesota Historical Society photo of the tornado-damaged pavilion at Lake Harriet in 1925, I dug out my favorite Lake Harriet photo of all time. Notice what’s missing?

This photo was taken very shortly after the Lake Harriet pavilion was destroyed by a tornado in 1925. It's the only photo I've seen of Lake Harriet without a pavilion.  A pile of rubble marks the spot where the pavilion once stood. It's unlikely that a man as insistent upon beauty and efficiency as park superintendent Theodore Wirth would have allowed the rubble to remain for long, so this photo must have been taken in the few days after the storm in mid-July. (From the author's personal collection.)

No pavilion!

This photo was taken very shortly after the Lake Harriet pavilion was destroyed. It’s the only photo I’ve seen of Lake Harriet’s north shore without a pavilion. A “temporary” replacement band stand was built the next summer so concerts could continue at the lake. That small band stand stood for 60 years.

A pile of rubble marks the spot in this photo where the pavilion once stood. It’s unlikely that a man as insistent upon beauty and efficiency as park superintendent Theodore Wirth would have allowed the rubble to remain for long, so this photo must have been taken in the few days after the storm in mid-July. Surprisingly, the storm appears not to have damaged the boat docks or boats, lending credence to claims that the pavilion was destroyed by a tornado, not straight-line winds.

Like many others who have developed an interest in local history, I have begun searching for photos that reveal more of the history of a place than one can find in written accounts. One of the best places to find photos — of a certain era — is on postcards. This photo comes from a vintage postcard I purchased. There is no attribution of the photo on the card. It was never mailed, although it was quite beat up. I cropped the creases and stains on the edges of this postcard.

If you have a favorite, non-commercial image of Minneapolis, especially parks, send me a scan or print and I’ll post it here. Please identify the photographer if at all possible.

David C. Smith

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4 comments so far

  1. Nat on

    I miss the fireworks at Powderhorn Park.

    • David C. Smith on

      I think many others do too, Nat. Many commenters remember the fireworks there as one of the highlights of growing up in Minneapolis.

  2. Tom Balcom on

    David – The rubble in the photo seems a little farther north and closer to the swimming beach than I would have expected.

    The 1891 Harry Jones-designed women’s bathroom in the upper left hand corner also looks undamaged. I wonder if there was a tornado path or if it just came down, destroyed the pavilion, and then lifted again before doing any other damage?

    Tom


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