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.

Originally graded and opened in 1892, this same driveway still exists.  (The roof of the Refectory is seen through the leaves at the left edge of the photo.)   It cost more than $4,000 to build, as so many springs had to be dealt with in creating the drive.  This was once a throughway for cars, but that route has been gone for years.  Today, the driveway circles into a few handicapped parking spots and room for buses to drop off and pick up.  It provides access for trash pick-up. Now people park in lots along the Godfrey Road and walk towards the Refectory from the north.  There’s still parking along Minnehaha Avenue, and those people walk over the creek on the footbridge just above the Falls.  This driveway does nothing to provide an entrance to the park.

The WPA reported that:

A tarvia walk was laid down on the south side of the boulevard leading into the park from Minnehaha Avenue and curbing was installed along the length of the boulevard from Minnehaha Avenue to the concourse.

Tarvia seems to have been asphalt, or something like it.


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