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Minneapolis’ Greatest Preservation Project: Public Waterfront Bus Tour

  • Parade Parking Lot 400 Kenwood Parkway Minneapolis, MN 55403 United States (map)

Minneapolis is the City of Lakes, Creeks, Ponds and one Mighty River. Almost all waterfront in Minneapolis is public land (or soon will be). It is a remarkable story of the preservation for public use of the city’s most distinguishing natural features. How did it happen? 

That’s what we’ll investigate in a tour of as much waterfront as we can squeeze into two hours on a comfy bus, with a couple stops. 

We’ll begin near the first body of water acquired by the Board of Park Commissioners when it was created in 1883: Loring Pond. From there we’ll follow the path the first park boards, led by Charles Loring, took to the Chain of Lakes. We’ll consider how the successes in acquiring and creating parks around those lakes shaped park policy. We’ll then trace the park board’s efforts to connect the lakes by parkways to the Mississippi River and Minnehaha Falls. Along that route we’ll visit other lakes acquired and shaped by the park board. 

From Minnehaha we’ll travel a section of the West River Parkway, which was acquired due to the vision of H.W.S. Cleveland who considered the river gorge the city’s most valuable park asset and an essential component of the city-encircling parkway he prescribed. We’ll return to our starting point via one of the smaller water acquisitions in south Minneapolis, Powderhorn Lake.

The tour guide is David Smith, who is the author of a history of the Minneapolis park system, City of Parks: The Story of Minneapolis Parks, as well as historical profiles of individual Minneapolis parks for the website of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Dave also writes about parks at his own website, He is still writing a history of Minnehaha Falls, a biography of landscape architect H.W.S. Cleveland and a collection of stories about little-known Minneapolitans.

Click here to register for this tour.

Earlier Event: August 16
Downtown Public Art Walking Tour
Later Event: August 21
Fort Snelling Upper Post Walking Tour