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#TBT: Mississippi/Minneapolis-before the Park

August 11, 2016Patrick NunnallyThrowback ThursdayComments Off on #TBT: Mississippi/Minneapolis-before the Park

west side SAF 1980

This photograph from the Minnesota Historical Society’s collections is dated August 1980, which means it shows some of the most heavily-visited sections of the Minneapolis riverfront as they appeared 36 years ago.  Industrial-scale milling had largely disappeared from the area, but much of the historic built form remained, particularly the intact Washburn-Crosby A Mill (now Mill City Museum) in the center of the picture.  At left, grain elevators stand approximately where the Guthrie Theater currently is.  The pale shapes seen just above the Stone Arch Bridge and the lock wall in the center of the picture are probably gravel piles; the central riverfront location now known as Mill Ruins Park was formerly a gravel storage site.

It took a bold imagination in 1980 to envision this area’s future as a tourism and recreation destination that would anchor a National Park.  Yet before the 1980s were over, important steps had been made to secure precisely that future.  In 1988, state legislation established the St Anthony Falls Heritage Board, an assemblage of several local units of government, together with state legislative involvement, that would help shape the future of this area.  Also in 1988, the federal government established the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area as a unit of the National Park Service.

August 2016 marks the Centennial of the National Park Service.  Today’s #Throwback Thursday and the next two, to be posted August 18 and 25, commemorate that milestone by examining particular components of what has become the only National Park Service unit dedicated to protecting and interpreting the Mississippi River.


Image from the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society.

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