Meet Me in the Park!
The land around old Johnson’s Lake was the first parcel purchased by a newly formed Minneapolis Park Board in April 1883. Central Park became a popular destination almost immediately. After the lake was expanded in 1884, the park board created a skating rink. Electric lights for night skating were added the following year. The park board built a bandstand in1886 and the first tennis courts appeared in 1887. In 1890 Central Park was renamed Loring Park in honor of the first president of the park board, Charles Loring. Minneapolis came close to losing Loring Park in 1895 when the park board voted to donate the park for the site of a new state capitol building. The state wisely declined the offer and chose a more suitable St. Paul location. Loring Park is smaller than it once was. The first piece of the park to go was in 1891 when Hennepin Avenue was widened. Twenty-three trees were saved and transplanted to what is now Windom Park over Northeast. In 1939, Loring Park lost more land when 15th Street was widened. The largest loss of land took place in the 1960s when I-94 was built. Construction required moving and adding lanes to Hennepin and Lyndale on the west side of the park to accommodate the interstate and the Lowry Hill Tunnel.