The WPA works in Minnehaha Park, 1936. Part 4: A Spring in the Park.

There’s a lot of groundwater just below the surface in the Minnehaha Falls area. This is hardly a surprise to anyone who takes winter walks in the park.

Frozen ground water in Minnehaha Park. This was taken below the Wabun Picnic Area, standing on the driveway at Lock and Dam #1.
Frozen ground water in Minnehaha Park. This was taken below the Wabun Picnic Area, standing on the driveway at Lock and Dam #1 on January 24, 2016.

Continue reading “The WPA works in Minnehaha Park, 1936. Part 4: A Spring in the Park.”

The WPA works in Minnehaha Park, 1936. Part 3: Driveway and Sidewalk.

WPA work in Minneapolis parks included engaging fun like puppet shows for children.  But their enduring efforts were the mundane and necessary improvements in infrastructure.  Here, the driveway leading into Minnehaha Park from Minnehaha Avenue has been given curbs and a sidewalk:

The original caption was: "Looking east from entrance to Minnehaha Park, showing curbing and walk installed by W.P.A."
The original caption was: “Looking east from entrance to Minnehaha Park, showing curbing and walk installed by W.P.A.” The original photo comes from “The Story of W.P.A. and Other Federal Aid Projects in the Minneapolis Parks, Parkways and Playgrounds, for the Year 1936, Minneapolis, Minnesota.” Courtesy Minneapolis Park Board.

Minnehaha Park cannot be said to have an entrance today.  Years ago, when the streetcars and the trains dropped people off at the Minnehaha Depot, or nearby it, the crowds moved towards the Falls from the west.  Or, they drove their carriages or automobiles down this driveway to pause in between the Refectory and the Falls and see the waterfall.

Continue reading “The WPA works in Minnehaha Park, 1936. Part 3: Driveway and Sidewalk.”

The WPA works in Minnehaha Park, 1936. Part 2: Groundskeeping.

From the earliest years of Park Board ownership of Minnehaha Falls, they worked to grow the grass. For most people, a park implies green grass lawn under mature trees. Certainly this was the accepted ideal in the infancy of landscape architecture, around the time the Minneapolis Parks system was created. Picturesque contemplation of the natural (though created) terrain was more important than playing ball, flying kites, or flower-picking.

The Park Board gained control of the Falls in 1889, the same year it created ordinances outlawing all these activities in the parks. They had a point, because back then, the falls were surrounded by barren dirt, and neither the landowners nor the businesses who rented from them cared much about growing grass.

Minnehaha had for decades been the most famous spot in Minnesota, always attracting large crowds. All those feet made growing grass unpredictably difficult for the Park Board, even with great expenses for seed and with placing “Keep Off The Grass” signs. This was a struggle every year.

Continue reading “The WPA works in Minnehaha Park, 1936. Part 2: Groundskeeping.”

The WPA works in Minnehaha Park. 1936. Part 1: Retaining Wall.

The WPA (Works Progress Administration, which became the Works Projects Administration in 1939) provided the dignity of a job to the unemployed of America’s Great Depression, while supplying rural communities needed public infrastructure and giving art and amenities to the cities.

The WPA improvements in Minnehaha Park were invaluable, and many of those–staircases and such–still serve 80 years later.

At some point between the late 1920s and 1936, the Park Board's giant viewing platform was finally removed. It was replaced by... whatever this is.
At some point between the late 1920s and 1936, the Park Board’s giant viewing platform was finally removed. It was replaced by… whatever this is. The original photo comes from “The Story of W.P.A. and Other Federal Aid Projects in the Minneapolis Parks, Parkways and Playgrounds, for the Year 1936, Minneapolis, Minnesota.” Courtesy Minneapolis Park Board.

Continue reading “The WPA works in Minnehaha Park. 1936. Part 1: Retaining Wall.”

The Minneapolis Park Board at Minnehaha: 1890’s, part 1

Even without a mist-throwing torrent flinging itself over the edge of the Falls, the Falls had its charm.  But the Park Board was responsible for the public’s safety.

Probably from the dry mid-summer: a trickle of water over Minnehaha Falls.
Probably from the dry mid-summer: a trickle of water over Minnehaha Falls.

“Persons are not allowed…”  It’s an advisory tone, not a mandate. That sign also mars the picturesqueness of the scene.

Continue reading “The Minneapolis Park Board at Minnehaha: 1890’s, part 1”

Viewing the Falls, 1900’s part 4

fallcon138cropped

The Park Board seems to have gotten the groundwater problem under control here, as the catchbasin is gone and the surface looks dry.  This rare look at the sides and edges shows just how gigantically inappropriate this viewing platform was.

Continue reading “Viewing the Falls, 1900’s part 4”

viewing the falls in the 1890’s, part 3

LHHSG02Talk008
William G. Stafford worked out of 206 1/2 Central Ave. between 1893 and 1899. The card here was printed for that studio address, but there’s no guarantee that the photograph affixed to it is from that same time span.

Continue reading “viewing the falls in the 1890’s, part 3”

viewing the falls, 1900’s, part 3

 

LHHSG02Talk017
“Danger, Do Not Go Beyond”

Here’s another nicely posed tourist at Minnehaha, on the Park Board’s large stone platform.  During the 1890’s, the Park Board also built the boulder wall that still exists today on the north side of the gorge.

Continue reading “viewing the falls, 1900’s, part 3”

Meanwhile, in 1958

June 3, 1958
June 3, 1958

Some early stone retaining walls are shown in this picture of the first landing on the south side of the Minnehaha gorge.

This landing was rebuilt sometime after 1958.  The flooding shown may be from recent heavy rains, or it might be an unsolved groundwater engineering problem.

Continue reading “Meanwhile, in 1958”