Category Archives: Minneapolis Park & Rec

Deming Heights Delights!

Looking for some summer fun?  Try packing camera and maybe a snatch of buttery Scandinavian treats for a climb up Norwegian Hill.  It’s on St. Anthony Parkway near Fillmore in the peaceful and shaded depths of Deming Heights Park, a ten acre jewel of the Grand Rounds National Scenic Highways system.  You’ll be viewing Minneapolis from one of the several vantage points purported to be the city’s highest peak, 963 feet above sea level.  There are, of course, rival claims, including one that Waite Park School at 1800 34th Avenue rests at the pinnacle of the city; other locals aver that Johnson Street NE and 34th Avenue tops Norwegian Hill by a good ten feet!

No mind, on a clear day the legendary Norwegian Hill  offers a fine opportunity to see forever.  Though one can only surmise the origins of the name of this locally famous pinnacle everyone in Northeast seems to know just where it is and why it’s worth the trip.

The origins of Deming Heights Park are easier to trace.  Portius C. Deming, for whom the park is named, was a park commissioner in the last years of the 19th Century and again from 1909-1919..  When the land for St. Anthony Parkway, including today’s Deming Heights, was acquired in 1913 the park was first known as Grandview Park.  It appears that Commissioner Deming thought the name aptly described the panorama.  Apt as that name may have been, the elegant wooded area was re-named to honor the commissioner himself when he died in 1930.

The recognition reflects Commissioner Deming’s commitment to the development of the city, particularly his persistent support of the North and Northeast sections of the Grand Rounds.  Capturing the vision of the commissioners and the genius of landscape architect Horace Cleveland with the informed support of community leaders Charles Loring and William Folwell the Grand Rounds thrive today as a hallmark of the City of Lakes.

Suffice to say, Portius Deming deserves the naming honor conferred on him.  Construction of the Grand Rounds is a story of vision, yes, but also of intense politics, bartering, badgering, public/private sector negotiation, finances, land acquisition/donation, weather, equipment and more. This snippet from the definitive history of the parkway areas of Minneapolis offers a glimpse of the day-to-day business with which Deming and his fellow commissioners grappled.

Through the relocation of University Avenue, the State Highway Department has brought about a very satisfactory grade separation with the avenue passing underneath the boulevard. On September 25, 1924, the various commercial clubs of Southeast and Northeast Minneapolis staged a gals parade and dedication exercises at Columbia Park, marking the formal opening of St. Anthony Boulevard.

The entire St. Anthony Boulevard project, exclusive of the Armour Tract, was financed as follows:  3/9 city bonds, 2/9 city-wide assessments, and  4.9 benefited district assessment.  Many favorable conditions during the construction period, such as available equipment, reduced cost of material, etc, made it possible not only to keep the total expenditure well within the estimates, but permitted the purchase of additional lots east of the parkway intersection at Central Avenue and at Deming Heights, which has greatly enhanced those sections of the Parkway

*It’s a story the depths of which I have yet not plumbed though it remains a goal for future posts to tell more of the story of the vision of Horace Cleveland and of the Commissioners that shaped the seven parkways that comprise today’s Grand Rounds.

Looking for some summer fun?  Try packing camera and maybe a snatch of buttery Scandinavian treats for a climb up Norwegian Hill.  It’s on St. Anthony Parkway near Fillmore in the peaceful and shaded depths of Deming Heights Park, a ten acre jewel of the Grand Rounds system.  You’ll be viewing Minneapolis from one of the several vantage points purported to be the city’s highest peak, 963 feet above sea level.  There are, of course, rival claims, including one that Waite Park School at 1800 34th Avenue rests at the pinnacle of the city; other locals aver that Johnson Street NE and 34th Avenue tops Norwegian Hill by a good ten feet!

No mind, on a clear day the legendary Norwegian Hill  offers a fine opportunity to see forever.  Though one can only surmise the origins of the name of this locally famous pinnacle everyone in Northeast seems to know just where it is and why it’s worth the trip.

The origins of Deming Heights Park are easier to trace.  Portius C. Deming, for whom the park is named, was a park commissioner in the last years of the 19th Century and again from 1909-1919..  When the land for St. Anthony Parkway, including today’s Deming Heights, was acquired in 1913 the park was first known as Grandview Park.  It appears that Commissioner Deming thought the name aptly described the panorama.  Apt as that name may have been, the elegant wooded area was re-named to honor the commissioner himself when he died in 1930.

The recognition reflects Commissioner Deming’s commitment to the development of the city, particularly his persistent support of the North and Northeast sections of the Grand Rounds.  Capturing the vision of the commissioners and the genius of landscape architect Horace Cleveland with the informed support of community leaders Charles Loring and William Folwell the Grand Rounds thrive today as a hallmark of the City of Lakes.

Suffice to say, Portius Deming deserves the naming honor conferred on him.  Construction of the Grand Rounds is a story of vision, yes, but also of intense politics, bartering, badgering, public/private sector negotiation, finances, land acquisition/donation, weather, equipment and more. This snippet from the definitive history of the parkway areas of Minneapolis offers a glimpse of the day-to-day business with which Deming and his fellow commissioners grappled.

Through the relocation of University Avenue, the State Highway Department has brought about a very satisfactory grade separation with the avenue passing underneath the boulevard. On September 25, 1924, the various commercial clubs of Southeast and Northeast Minneapolis staged a gals parade and dedication exercises at Columbia Park, marking the formal opening of St. Anthony Boulevard

The entire St. Anthony Boulevard project, exclusive of the Armour Tract, was financed as follows:  3/9 city bonds, 2/9 city-wide assessments, and  4.9 benefited district assessment.  Many favorable conditions during the construction period, such as available equipment, reduced cost of material, etc, made it possible not only to keep the total expenditure well within the estimates, but permitted the purchase of additional lots east of the parkway intersection at Central Avenue and at Deming Heights, which has greatly enhanced those sections of the Parkway

*It’s a story the depths of which I have yet not plumbed though it remains a goal for future posts to tell more of the story of the vision of Horace Cleveland and of the Commissioners that shaped the seven parkways that comprise today’s Grand Rounds.

Minneapolis Pops Brightens Nicollet Island Mornings with Music and Motion

Though the usual summertime home of the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra is the Lake Harriet Bandshell  the versatile musicians are changing the venue and the schedule in the weeks to come — much to the delight of folks for whom South Minneapolis is a Destination.  They’re also changing their repertoire, again to the benefit of new listeners in riverfront setting.

On Tuesday morning, July 19,10:30 a.m.  the Orchestra moves to the Nicollet Island Pavilion for “Saturday Night (actually it really is Tuesday) at the Movies.’  The program includes music from films and music suggested by films.  The sparkling program  includes a host of musical delights – consider John Williams’ “Harry Potter Suite” from The Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) or John Philip Sousa’s “Liberty Bell March” from Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969), or the most recent, William Walton’s “Crown Imperial” from The King’s Speech (1910).

On Thursday morning, July 28, the Pops Orchestra returns to the Nicollet Island Pavilion for a focus on music that makes listeners want to move – dances by Dvorak, Brahms, Lecuona and Josef Strauss plus concertmaster Michal Sobieski’s flying fiddle and “Ascot Dances” with “Minnesota’s premiere accordionist Mark Stillman (an unlikely name for a musician who is clearly in motion!)

The Minneapolis Pops Orchestra features forty-five professional musicians who, during the non-summer (I can’t use the “w” word) play with the Minnesota Opera, the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and other Twin Cities groups.  Music Director Jere Lantz, now in this twenty-fifth season with the MPO, is host for the summer concerts and “well known for his ability to communicate the ‘story behind the music.’

Concerts are free and open.

On the Waterfront – From Brando to Revival of the Nation’s Riverfronts

Peter Hendee Brown knows waterfront development and is willing to share what he knows.  He’ll be speaking on Thursday, July 26, 5:00-7:00, at Minneapolis Park & Recreation Headquarters, 2117 West River Road.

 

Whether you are concerned or just confused you probably are wondering just what is going on with the mighty Mississippi – the river ebbs and flows, bridges fall and rise again, traffic patterns of rivercraft are inscrutable, and what is all that cargo being anyway.  And then there are the hundreds of new dwellings and businesses edging ever closer to the mighty waterway that divides our city and shapes our lives.

 

Planner and architect Peter Hendee Brown teaches private sector development at the U of M.  He is also author of America’s Waterfront Revival, a study of four very different waterfronts – the Tampa Port Authority, the Port of San Francisco, the Port of San Diego, and the Delaware River Port Authority.   Promotional materials from the publisher, the University of Pennsylvania Press, focus on the nub of the author’s message:

 

Despite their unique histories, markets, and geographic locations, these four ports have many similarities.  Most important, as globalization and technological change led to declines in shipping, they all evolved from single purpose maritime cargo-handling operations into diversified business organizations focused on waterfront revitalization.  All four ports became deeply involved in real estate development in support of nontraditional maritime and nonmaritime public and commercial uses.

 

That takes change on many fronts – legislation, regulation, finances, organizational dynamics, land use and more.

 

All are welcome to attend this free and open event.  Take time for a fresh look at the Mississippi which everyone knows, you can from the front porch of Park & Rec….