Naming Rights … and Wrongs? People Commemorated in Minneapolis Parks
Given recent discussions of the propriety of the names of park properties, especially Lake Calhoun, I compiled a list of the 129 people whose names are commemorated in Minneapolis parks. This includes park properties and facilities, such as playing fields, fountains and gardens. Only one of the names is fake.
At the end of the list are several little-known facts about Minneapolis park names. Some of the names most difficult to track down belong to park triangles at street intersections. In many of those cases, the triangles were given the street name, such as Orlin and Clarence triangles. I have not researched the origin of those names, so if you know something, please share.
Also let me know if I have overlooked any names in this list. More information on many of these people is featured in other posts on this site, so if you want to learn more, begin with a quick search here.
Alcott, Louisa May
Anthony, Saint of Padua
Audubon, John James
Barnes, William A.
Barton, Asa Bowers
Bassett, Joel Bean
Beard, Henry Beach
Berry, William Morse
Bethune, Mary McLeod
Bohanon, John C.
Bossen, Christian A.
Brackett, George Augustus
Bryant, William Cullen
Calhoun, Vice Pres. John C.
Carew, Rod (baseball field, Xcel Field Park)
Casey, Bob (baseball field, Stewart Park)
Chergosky, Donald and Janice
Chute, Richard (and Samuel)
Clarence (unknown, street name)
Cleveland, Pres. Grover
Clifton (unknown, street name)
Corcoran, William Wilson
Cowles, John Jr. and Sage (conservatory, Sculpture Garden)
Crone, Martha (shelter, Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden))
Currie, Edward A.
Cyson, Stan (baseball field, Northeast Park)
Dean, Joseph (and sons)
Elliot, Dr. Jacob S.
Elwell, James T.
Farwell (unknown, developer)
Folwell, William Watts
Fremont, Gen. John Charles
Gross, Francis A.
Harrison, Pres. William Henry
Hartman, Sid (baseball field, Northeast Park)
Heffelfinger, Frank (fountain, Lyndale Park)
Hennepin, Father Louis
Holmes, Oliver Wendell
Hull, Agnes “Brownie” McNair
Humboldt, Friedrich von
Isle, Billy, Ezekiel and Otis
Jackson, Pres. Andrew
Jordan, Charles M.
Kenny, Sister Elizabeth
Killebrew, Harmon (baseball field, Pearl Park)
King, Rev. Lyndon (“Lyndale” is derived from Lyndon, father of William S. King)
King, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther, Jr.
King, William Smith
Leavenworth, Harriet Lovejoy
Levin, Joanne R.
Logan, Gen. John
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth
Loring, Charles Morgridge
Lovell, C. P.
Lupient, Jim (water park)
Luxton, George E.
Marcy, William A.
Marshall, Gov. William
Matthews, Charles E.
McRae, Alexander A.
Monroe, Pres. James
Morris, Lucy Wilder
Mueller, Robert C. and Herbert L.
Nelson, Benjamin Franklin
Olson, Orvin “Ole”
Orlin (unknown, street name)
Painter, Jonathan E.
Peavey, Frank H.
Perkins (unknown, property owner)
Pershing, Gen. John
Phelps, Edmund J.
Phillips, Eddie (football field, Farview Park)
Pillsbury, Phillip W. (and John S. and Charles A.)
Quilici, Frank (baseball field, Shingle Creek Park)
Rice, James I.
Ridgway, James Arthur
Rivers, J. D. (garden, Wirth Park)
Roberts, Thomas Sadler
Rollins (John or Mortimer?, developer of Rollins Addition)
Russell, Roswell P.
Sheridan, Gen. Phillip H.
Sibley, Gen. Henry Hastings
Smith, Charles Axel (C.A.)
Snelling, Col. Josiah
Solomon, Edward C.
Stevens, Col. John
Stewart, Levi Merrick “Elder”
Sumner, Sen. Charles
Van Cleve, Gen. Horatio P. and Charlotte Ouisconsin
Waite, Edward Foote
Washburn, Sen. William Drew
Washington, Pres. George
Webber, Charles C. and Mary Harris
Wells, Frederick (tennis center)
Whittier, John Greenleaf
Winchell, Newton (and Horace)
Windom, Sen. William
Some “names” are not included on this list. Minnehaha is often thought of as a fictional character from Longfellow’s famous poem “Song of Hiawatha.” In fact, it’s a phrase in the Dakota language, “mni haha” that was a generic term for “waterfall.” So Longfellow named his character not for laughing water, but literally for waterfall.
Six other names from Longfellow’s once wildly popular poem also were used in the Minneapolis park system. Four are still used: Hiawatha and Nokomis for lakes, Keewaydin for a park and Wenonah for a triangle. Two others, Iagoo and Osseo, were names of park triangles that no longer exist.
One of the most influential park commissioners on nomenclature opposed the Longfellow-associated names for the two lakes. William Watts Folwell, the first President of University of Minnesota and a historian, opposed naming Lake Amelia and Rice Lake for Nokomis and Hiawatha, respectively, in 1925, because they were Ojibway names, not Dakota names, and were therefore inappropriate in a region once inhabited primarily by Dakota people.
In the 1890s Folwell had proposed several names for parks when he was a park commissioner. Only one of the names he suggested was accepted: Loring Park. He proposed the name to honor his friend and first president of the park board Charles Loring, when Loring left the park board in 1891.
In addition to Loring Park, Folwell’s most lasting naming suggestion came in 1891 when he proposed calling Minneapolis’s system of parkways – first imagined by H. W. S. Cleveland – the “Grand Rounds.”
Other names proposed by Folwell that were not accepted for various reasons:
- Hiyata Lake, for Spring Lake at The Parade, from a Dakota word for “behind the hill.” While the name was never officially adopted when proposed in the 1890s it did appear on several park board maps in the early 1900s.
- Accault Parkway for West River Parkway, after Michel Accault, the leader of the French exploring party that included Father Hennepin as a subordinate member
- Lake Medoza, for Lake Calhoun, using a Dakota name for the lake, which meant lake of the “loons”. Folwell, like many others who had fought in the Union Army, weren’t keen on perpetuating Calhoun’s name, which was so closely identified with the secessionist cause. Folwell was pursuing a graduate degree in Germany when the Civil War broke out; he returned home immediately and enlisted, eventually becoming a Lt. Col. in command of a corps of engineers.
- “Alpha” through “Lambda”, letters of the Greek alphabet, for smaller triangular parks – not one of Folwell’s most brilliant ideas.
I recently discovered a suggestion from 1923 to rename the three bridges over canals linking Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun after three prominent women in Minneapolis history: Maria Sanford, Beatrice Lowry and Alice Ames Winter. I haven’t found a record of what became of that idea. They would all be excellent additions to park nomenclature.
If you have followed this blog for some time you know that I must close with a plea to add a name to this long list: Horace William Shaler Cleveland.
It remains astonishing that one of the people most responsible for the creation of this marvelous park system is not included among the many who have had their names memorialized in it. There is still time to make that right!
David C. Smith minneapolisparkhistory[at]q.com
A few moments later: Thanks to MaryLynn Pulscher, I have added the name of Roger Imme to the list. The recreation center at Whittier Park is named for him. If I got paid for writing these pieces, MaryLynn would get paid as my editor!