Archive for the ‘Horace Cleveland’ Tag

Shared History: Edina’s Early Days

Edina and Minneapolis share more than France Avenue—and history buffs aren’t restricted by city boundaries.

Henry Brown played an important role in the history of Edina as well as the history of Minnehaha Falls as a Minneapolis park.

There is a Chowen Park in both Edina and Minneapolis.

Minnehaha Creek flows through Minneapolis parkland  before it gets to Edina — and, of course, all of Minnehaha Creek after it leaves Edina on its way through Minneapolis to Minnehaha Falls and the Mississippi River is parkland.

The Interlachen neighborhood grew up around a golf course created by golfers who had outgrown their nine-hole Bryn Mawr course near downtown Minneapolis. 

That’s just a taste of the rich information on Edina history—and Minneapolis history— on the web site of realtor Ben Ganje. Go to the neighborhood directory on his site then look at the right margin for a list of Edina neighborhoods. Each of Edina’s 45 official neighborhoods is profiled with historical info and interesting bits of trivia.

I read about Todd Park because of my interest in famous diva Emma Abbott, a Minneapolis girl made good. Her father was one of those first interested in developing this part of Edina.

Why was I interested in Emma Abbott? She was buried next to her husband in Oak Grove Cemetery in his home town, Gloucester, Mass. Their monument is the most impressive in that cemetery, which I visited this fall.

Oak Grove, Emma Abbott Memorial

Emma Abbott’s memorial in Oak Grove Cemetery, Gloucester, Mass. Designing the cemetery was one of H.W.S. Cleveland’s first commissions as a landscape architect in 1854. (Photos: David C. Smith)

Laying out Oak Grove Cemetery was one of the first commissions Horace William Shaler Cleveland received as a landscape architect. Oak Grove, Emma Abbott WetherleyHe was hired for that job, with his young partner Robert Copeland, in 1854. The next year they tackled the design of the much more prestigious Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Mass., the eventual resting place of many of the great writers of early America: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife, Sophia, who was a childhood friend of Horace Cleveland.

More Edina History of Interest to Minneapolitans

Another Edina neighborhood profile I liked was Creek Knoll, which borders Minneapolis and was first promoted as a residential development for its nearness to Lake Harriet.

Also check out the profile of Morningside, a neighborhood that was also subdivided and developed partly because of the rapidly rising prices of residential lots nearer Lake Harriet in the early 1900s.

For those of you interested in park history in general, you might want to read about park development at Pamela Park, Bredesen Park and also the land once owned by four-term Minneapolis mayor, George Leach, that became Braemar Golf Course. The Lake Cornelia history also presents some of the challenges of park making as well as stormwater management that face cities as well as suburbs.

Can you still catch northern pike in Centennial Lakes?

Worth a look if you want to know more about our southwestern neighbor—and our metropolitan area from water management and freeways to shopping centers.

David C. Smith

Advertisements

Horace Cleveland Gets a Park!

It could finally happen! I was delighted to learn that Minneapolis Park Commissioners Scott Vreeland and Steffanie Musich will introduce to the board this week a formal proposal to name all or part of the Mississippi River gorge in Minneapolis after Horace William Shaler Cleveland. He was the landscape architect who was so influential in the creation of the Minneapolis and St. Paul park systems and, especially, the protection and preservation of the incomparable river gorge as a park.

The cover of the park board's 1905 annual report shows the Mississippi River gorge looking up river from the mouth of Minnehaha Creek at left. (Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board)

The cover of the park board’s 1905 annual report shows the Mississippi River gorge looking up river from the mouth of Minnehaha Creek at left. (Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board)

I can think of no higher or more appropriate honor for a man whose vision meant so much to life in this metropolis than to name this magnificent ribbon of untrammeled, still-wild green in his name.

Scott Vreeland has pointed out that the proposal he will read this week is only the beginning of the process that must gain approval now from many jurisdictions, from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to the National Park Service. Perhaps it is indicative of Cleveland’s profound legacy that local, regional, state and national entities are now involved in the continued preservation and administration of the treasure the river gorge has become.

But it is a start. To read more about why I believe this is important, read my earlier articles here and here. Or click on Cleveland’s name in the tag cloud at right to learn a great deal more about this extraordinary person.

Thanks Scott and Steffanie for taking this step.

I hope all other organizations, public and private, that are interested in the river will support them.

David C. Smith

© 2014 David C. Smith

Lost Minneapolis Parks: Rauen Triangle

Minneapolis lost one of its only parks named for someone with a German surname in 1939. Given that more Minneapolitans define their ancestry as German than any other nationality — nearly one in four — it seems a bit odd that a city with more than 180 parks would have so few named after people of German descent. As I was looking over a list I compiled of Minneapolis park properties that no longer exist, I was struck by the description of Rauen Triangle; a 1930s park inventory claimed that the triangle was named after “German settler” Peter Rauen. When that triangle was paved over in 1939, the only park property that remained with a German name was Humboldt Triangle in north Minneapolis. Alexander von Humboldt was a German naturalist and explorer who died in 1859. Even Humboldt’s name adorned a park property by default rather than by choice; the triangle took its name from its location on Humboldt Avenue.

Rauen Triangle was a small piece of land (0.03 acre) at the oddly configured intersection of 11th Avenue North, North Fifth Street and North Sixth Street. The park board purchased the land at the request of residents of the neighborhood in 1890 for $3,462 — a price that seems exorbitant for such a small, otherwise useless tract. The entire cost was assessed on property in the neighborhood. It was given the unimaginative name of Fifth Street Triangle.

If the Nomenclature Committee had had its way in May 1893 the triangle would have been renamed Iota Triangle. The committee of Harry Wild Jones, William Folwell and Patrick Ryan had suggested naming most of the small street triangles after letters of the Greek alphabet. The park board approved many other names recommended by the committee that day — Kings Highway, The Beard Plaisance, Logan Park, Windom Park, and Van Cleve Park — but returned the Greek alphabet names to the committee for further consideration. Good choice.

The only suggested park name recommended by the committee that was shot down completely by the board was the name Hiyata Park for Spring Lake Park, the small pond at the foot of Kenwood Hill behind the Parade Ice Arena. The board voted to keep the name Spring Lake. Hiyata, the committee claimed, was an “Indian name meaning Back-By-The-Hill.”

After further deliberation, instead of Iota Triangle the committee returned with a recommendation of Rauen Triangle in honor of Peter Rauen, a German who had arrived at St. Anthony in 1856. The name made sense because Peter Rauen’s home at 1101 North Sixth Street faced the triangle.

Peter Rauen’s house at 1101 North Sixth Street, about 1875. This photo was taken from approximately the site of the future Rauen Triangle. I like the board sidewalk. (Michael Nowack, Minnesota Historical Society)

Rauen operated a successful grocery and general merchandise store at the corner of Plymouth and Washington. He was an alderman on the first city council after the merger of St Anthony and Minneapolis in 1872 and he was mentioned in Horace Hudson’s early history of Minneapolis as a prominent president of the Harmonia Society, one of the more successful musical organizations in the early days of Minneapolis.

The park board gave up Rauen Triangle in 1939 to the city of Minneapolis. On the same lot that Rauen’s home had once stood, the city built Fire Station 4, which still stands on the site. It seems that the triangle got in the way of the long hook and ladder fire engines maneuvering into the station. The triangle was paved over to create a quite wide intersection.

Fire Station 4, 1101 North Sixth Street (City of Minneapolis website)

In Rauen’s time the neighborhood was all residential, but it is now completely industrial and hemmed in by freeways.

Since the demise of Rauen Triangle, two other Minneapolis parks have been named for people with German surnames: Mueller Park (1973) and Gluek Park (1995).

I don’t mention the nationality or ethnicity of park names as something that needs to be addressed; it is simply an observation. The only name missing from a Minneapolis park that really must be added is Horace Cleveland’s.

David C. Smith

© David C. Smith

The Case For Horace Cleveland’s Name on a River Gorge Park

“A continuous park…of such picturesque character as no art could create and no other city can possess.”

That is how Horace Cleveland described the park he imagined along the boulevard he recommended for the west bank of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. He went on to write in his Suggestions for a System of Parks and Parkways for the City of Minneapolis, which he presented to the first Minneapolis park board on June 2, 1883:

“The Mississippi River is not only the grand natural feature which gives character to your city and constitutes the main spring of prosperity, but it is the object of vital interest and center of attraction to intelligent visitors from every quarter of the globe, who associate such ideas of grandeur with its name as no human creation can excite. It is due therefore, to the sentiments of the civilized world, and equally in recognition of your own sense of the blessings it confers upon you, that it should be placed in a setting worthy of so priceless a jewel.”

Horace Cleveland had a special passion for the Mississippi River gorge. The banks of the river remain a beautiful and wild place thanks, in part, to his constant encouragement over nearly three decades for Minneapolis (St. Paul, too) to acquire the river banks downstream from St Anthony Falls to preserve them from ruin.

This photo of West River Parkway in about 1910 shows how wild the river banks were. The ruggged, wild banks of the river gorge, the only such place on the entire length of the Mississippi River, remain as beautiful today as during Horace Cleveland’s lifetime. (Hennepin County Public Library, Minneapolis Collection, M0129)

The park board finally acquired all the land along the west side of the gorge downriver from Riverside Park to Minnehaha Creek in 1902, more than a year after Cleveland’s death. Cleveland once said that he would feel that he “had not lived in vain” if the city would preserve the river bank in its natural state.

Cleveland wrote of the river banks:

“No artist who has any appreciation of natural beauty would presume to do more than touch with reverent hands the features whose charms suggest their own development. No plan for such work could be made.”

Cleveland not only appreciated the beauty of the river, but he foresaw that the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis would one day grow together. In his mind that probability made it even more important that the cities preserve some wild, natural places along the river that ran between them.

We should name a river gorge park for Cleveland just as a tribute to his descriptive powers, even if he hadn’t suggested, recommended, planned, cajoled, informed and educated a generation or two of the city’s leaders on land preservation and city building.

I believe the only name ever given to the land along the river was Mississippi Park. A bit plain. Winchell Trail and West River Parkway run through it, and those names can remain. It would cause no one any discomfort to officially name the rest of the west gorge for Cleveland. It’s not like renaming a street, which causes people to have to change their addresses and the city to put up new road signs. It’s just putting a name on a space that essentially has none now.

A marker or two along Winchell Trail and the parkway would suffice to let people know Horace Cleveland’s name. That couldn’t cost much. I’ll put up the first hundred bucks.

Horace Cleveland River Gorge Park. He’s why we have it, so let’s put his name on it. I think we owe him that.

David C. Smith

© David C. Smith

Horace Cleveland River Gorge Park: We need the man’s name on our map

Folwell Junior High School is no longer, but we still have Folwell Park in north Minneapolis and Folwell Hall at the University of Minnesota. The building at the university won’t last forever, but the park should, so people will have reason to remember William Watts Folwell even if they never see scribblings such as this or City of Parks. Many other heroes of our park development are remembered in park names, too: Loring, Berry, Morrison, King, Beard, Wirth, Gross, Bossen, Armatage.

Not so for Horace William Shaler Cleveland who played such an important role in the creation of the Minneapolis park system. His name is nowhere in this city. While I’m quoting Folwell today, there’s this from the close of his President’s Address in the 1895 annual report of the Minneapois Board of Park Commissioners:

“Although still in the land of the living, no further service can be expected of Mr. H. W. S. Cleveland, disabled as he is by the infirmities incident to his advanced age. Our city may count itself fortunate to have had his assistance in the original development of plark plans, and in the later execution of them in part. In some proper way his name should be perpetuated in connection with our park system.

That is as true today as it was 115 years ago. We need Horace Cleveland’s name on Minneapolis maps.

My recommendation: everything between West River Parkway and the Mississippi River, from the mouth of Minnehaha Creek to Riverside Park, should become “Horace Cleveland River Gorge Park.” He loved most of all the river gorge and never stopped fighting for its acquisition as parkland, something that wasn’t accomplished until after his death. The west river bank is really known only as that; it doesn’t have a real name anyway. So why not put Cleveland’s name on it? No one has to call it that, I don’t care, just print it on the map so people don’t forget. It seems a little thing to do for a man who did so much for you and me.

I’m looking at you, park commissioners.

Horace Cleveland proposed this system of parks and parkways in 1883. I think it merits his name on a bit of the park system he suggested. (Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board)

David C. Smith

Public-private collaborations that work: Sea Salt, Tin Fish and…Bread and Pickle?

The mention of Sea Salt restaurant in Alice Streed’s Minneapolis Park Memory: Treasure (below) is noteworthy. A relatively new development in our parks is mentioned in the same sentences as long-celebrated spaces and activities. The popular restaurant in the Minnehaha Park refectory — run as a private, for-profit business — is a marvelous example of the best of public-private collaboration. It proves that private enterprise can do some things, such as serving delicious sea food, better than a public agency. I believe it also demonstrates the silliness of claims that the sky is falling whenever an agency like the park board considers change.

Lest private enterprise advocates get carried away here, however, let me state quite emphatically that there would be no park system in which to place these wonderful little restaurants if we would have relied on private interests to create parks. Our parks prove that public agencies can do some things, such as creating a park system, that private enterprise will not do.

The debate over allowing businesses to operate in Minneapolis parks is old — and sometimes entertaining. The park board began granting concessions for boat rentals, then food sales, to private businesses at Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet very early in the history of Minneapolis parks. The park board assumed control of the boat rentals at Lake Harriet in the late 1880s when Charles Loring noted that the business could be easily managed by the park board. On other issues, however, the presence of private enterprise on park property was vigorously opposed.

Permit me to quote myself — and Horace Cleveland — from City of Parks:

(Cleveland) had also written (to William Folwell) of his disgust that the park board was considering permitting a structure next to Minnehaha Falls where people could have their photos taken beside the cataract. “If erected,” Cleveland complained, “it will be simply pandering to the tastes of the army of boobies who think to boost themselves into notoriety by connecting their own stupid features with the representation of one of the most beautiful of God’s works.”

You didn’t mess with Cleveland’s favorite natural landscapes — one of the things that made him one of the first great landscape architects. Fortunately, William Folwell, who was president of the park board at the time, agreed with his friend.

Another early private business on park property was a service to pump up deflated bicycle tires on the new bicycle paths created by the park board during the bicycle craze of the 1880s-1890s. The park board did exercise some control over the business, however, by stipulating that the business could not charge more than a penny for filling a tire.

The park board began to take over food service in park buildings after Theodore Wirth became park superintendent in 1906. Wirth, like many park executives of the day, believed that no private concessions should be operated in parks — although he seemed to make an exception for pony rides and probably would have for the polo fields and barns he proposed for Bryn Mawr Meadows. (And, of course, the sheep he brought in to graze at Glenwood Park in 1921 were not owned by the park board. Wirth wrote that he thought sheep grazing in a park was a cool visual effect and that the sheep would earn their keep by cutting grass, keeping weeds down, which reduced fire risk, and fertilizing. Unfortunately they didn’t mow evenly and ate other plants too, so the borrowed sheep were evicted in 1922. ) One of the few other historical examples of a private venture operating on park property was the Minneapolis Tennis Club, which operated first at The Parade and then moved to Nicollet (Martin Luther King) Park in the early 1950s when Parade Stadium was built.

Do you remember concession stands in parks? What about treats at the Calhoun, Nokomis or Wirth beach houses?  As good as fish tacos?

I have high hopes for Bread & Pickle, the new food service contracted for Lake Harriet next summer. I hope the Citizens Advisory Council that worked so hard on the recommendations wasn’t too conservative in forcing  a new service into old space.

David C. Smith

Was landscape architect Warren Manning the first to propose a public golf course in a Minneapolis park?

Under the headline “Fine Park Is Assured”, the Minneapolis Tribune ran a story on November 15, 1903 that contained details I had never seen on plans for a golf course and baseball field in a Minneapolis park. The basic facts of the article are well-known: Thomas Lowry, along with William Dunwoody and Seurity Bank, offered to donate land at the foot of Lowry Hill for what eventually became The Parade.

What was new (to me) in the story was that when Lowry submitted his proposal to donate land down the hill from his mansion he also submitted designs for the park. The plans were prepared by well-known landscape architect Warren Manning at Lowry’s request. Lowry also offered to foot the cost of implementing Manning’s plan. Lowry eventually did donate thousands of dollars to help the park board convert the land to a park, but Manning’s plans were never mentioned in park board records.

Continue reading