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Title: Geography of the Twin Cities

Geography of the Twin Cities                    
The Lake District of Minneapolis Slide Show
David Lanegran Macalester College Geography
The Lake District of Minneapolis has an
interesting history. Its development is described
more fully in the book The Lake District of
Minneapolis A History of the Calhoun-Isles
Community, by David Lanegran and Ernest Sandeen,
published by the Living Historical Museum (1979).
This book is no longer in print. This is one of
the signature communities of Minneapolis,
extending from the area of Loring Park, west of
Lyndale to the city limits, and as far south as
Lake Harriet. From the very beginning of the
city, it has been a popular residential zone.
Most recently it has undergone extensive
commercial redevelopment. In the two decades
since the book was published, the Lake District
has been transformed from a place with a grand
past to a place with a vibrant future. It has
continued to be a center of human activity
through all the changes in popular culture.
Farmers and speculators purchased all the land in
the Lake District during the years before the
Civil War. Developers opened the northern and
eastern sections of the district for middle class
residents during the late 1860s, but as the this
map indicates, more of the land in the area was
divided into large parcels owned by farmers and
speculators. Many of the city's most famous early
settlers engaged in land speculation in the
district. John Green farmed land near the hill
formerly called the Devil's Backbone. The large
place to the west of Green's was owned by J.C.
Goodrich, who was apparently a speculator. Thomas
Lowery, founder of the Twin Cities' Streetcar
system, owned land directly on the Devil's
Backbone - later to be called Lowry Hill - along
with his father-in-law C.G. Goodrich. The land
fronting on Hennepin Avenue was divided into
small parcels, but the large block fronting on
the east side of Lake of Isles was owned by C.G.
Goodrich in partnership with another. The
southeastern shore of Lake of the Isles was
owned by R.P. Russell, a New Englander who came
west to seek his fortune in 1839. An active
merchant and politician, Russell dabbled in many
financial matters including lumber,
milling, land developing and farming. The primary
path of development in the city during the
period was in the vicinity of the Washburns'
estates south of Franklin and west of Portland
Avenue. This growth pattern influenced other
developers to plat "out lots" or suburban tracts
beyond the city limits. Most of the area on
Lyndale between Franklin and Lake was divided
into lots at this time, and developments were
established between Hennepin and Lyndale just
north of the lake. However, this subdivision was
well beyond the zone of active residential
building. Most of the land in the district was
owned by Colonel William S. King. His Lyndale
Farm was the largest solely owned property in the
history of Minneapolis. The west side of Lake
Calhoun was owned by Louis Menage, so it is easy
to see why he was willing to buy up King's debt
and foreclose on the farm. We can also see the
Cedar Lake station on the railroad, which
brought tourists to the resort hotels on the
lake. The Lakewood Cemetery is also indicated on
the map, but was not yet established. Actually,
planning had just begun on the cemetery when this
map was published.
Part I Development of the Lake District
Slide 1 This topographic map from the turn of
the century provides an excellent view of the
development of the lake district. We can see the
hills and marshes that characterized the area as
well as the expanding grid of streets and
avenues coming from the city center toward these
beautiful neighborhoods. It is also apparent that
the natural landscape required a great deal of
modification if it was going to support a dense
population. The variation in topography created
conditions that would promote the development of
several separate and distinctive neighborhoods.
Slide 2 While the area around the lakes was
being eyed by developers, the city of Minneapolis
was just beginning to boom. Here we see the low
rise core of 19th Century Minneapolis.
Slide 3 The story of the lake district is a tale
of greed, glory and unbridled ambition. The men
who created these neighborhoods were speculators
in real estate, one of the oldest American
professions. They worked from offices like this
and promoted a wide variety of dreams and
schemes. Experience further East convinced all
businessmen than Minneapolis was going to be a
great city, and there was money to be made in
real estate.
Slide 4 The lakes at the western edge of the
city were shallow with marshy shores. People in
the 19th Century generally avoided such areas
because they feared fevers and vapors. The lakes
had potential but they were not an immediate
Slide 5 The first uses of the lakes were for
recreation. They were located away from the
center of the population so to visit Cedar Lake
(shown here) required most of a day. However,
this pleasant landscape soon became known to all
and developed as a popular location for a wide
variety of outdoor activities.
Slide 6 The first great change in the location
of the lakes came with the building of the motor
line. This street railroad ran from the center
to recreational destinations on the shores of the
lakes. It was built with the intention of
bringing people to the new hotels being developed
and as a way to get households to buy the new
suburban residential areas being platted.
Slide 7 Here we seen the motor line with the
Lyndale hotel in the background. Located on the
high ground on the Eastern shore of Lake
Calhoun, the Lyndale was popular with tourists
from all across the Midwest. The hotel
flourished during the 1880s.
Slide 8 The Lyndale Hotel opened with a huge
gala. Trains brought fancy and famous people from
Chicago and Kansas City to join the big event.
Hotels such as these were where innovations like
inner spring mattresses, gas lights, and flush
toilets were tested and made feasible. This
resort hotel was an extremely important feature
in the development of Minneapolis because hotels
drew the elite to the lakes and established a
landscape taste that would eventually come to
dominate the Minnesota aesthetic.
Slide 9 The Oak Grove Hotel on the shores of
Cedar Lake was reputed to be the best resort
hotel in Minnesota. People took the train to a
nearby stop and were brought to the hotel in
carriages. The fancy couple on horseback
depicted in the ad tells us who the proprietors
wished to attract to their establishment.
Slide 10 This post card from the 1880's shows
sailboats, a boat rental facility, and a simple
hotel on the northeast shore of Lake Calhoun.
These areas still functions as a marina for the
popular sail boats. Lake Calhoun attracted a
variety of land uses to its northern shore,
which was accessible by the street railroad and
later by the tracks of the Soo Line.
Slide 11 Ice harvesting was one of the principal
economic uses of Lake Calhoun in the early years.
The Boston Ice Company and others located on the
northern shore. Ice cut in the winter was stored
in sawdust-packed warehouses for delivery to
home iceboxes all year round.
Slide 12 This close-up view of ice harvesting
shows the thickness of the ice and the basic
tools used to get the ice from the lake to the
storage facilities. It was not a job for the
faint of heart.
Slide 13 Thomas Lowry was a major real estate
developer and founded the street car company
that eventually became the Twin City Rapid
Transit Company. He came to Minneapolis in 1987
determined to make a fortune. He married
Beatrice, daughter of C. G. Goodrich, a man
already established in property development.
Slide 14 Beatrice Lowry, one of the leading
property owners in Minneapolis and constant
supporter of her husband's efforts to promote
the settlement of the lake district. The couple
built a lavish mansion on Lowry Hill, near where
the Guthrie Theater now stands.
Slide 15 This is an example of the horse cars
that were first used by the street railroad. They
were effective but expensive. While the motor
line brought people to the resort hotels on the
lakeshores, the horse cars gradually spread the
middle class housing into the northern portion of
the lake district.
Slide 16 In 1878 Lowry Hill (formerly called the
Devil's Backbone) was dominated by the house of
the Lowry's. The windmill and carriage house are
also visible. The Lowry mansion established Lowry
Hill and Kenwood as one of the city's more
fashionable neighborhoods, despite its distance
from the center core.
Slide 17 This view looks across the modern
sculpture garden. The digging of the road through
the ridge that we know as Lowry Hill provided
fill for the low land west of Loring Lake. That
area become a public open space known as the
parade or parade grounds. The early grain
elevators dominate the skyline of Minneapolis.
Slide 18 The Kenwood railroad station made the
neighborhood accessible to the new business elite
that was emerging in Minneapolis. The station
brought people to the high land along the road
known as Kenwood Parkway.
Slide 19 This advertisement depicts the elite
neighborhood of Kenwood. The area had tremendous
appeal because of its amenities and the train
connection into the city center. Notice that the
lot sizes are rather small which reflects the
desire of the developers to maximize their
return on the sale of real estate. The
equestrian figure provides an icon of the very
gentile lifestyle the developers were promoting
to their up-scale clients.
Slide 20 Kenwood Parkway. We see that the
infrastructure was in place before the large
homes were built by individual contractors.
Slide 21 Mr. and Mrs. Edmund G. Walton in front
their house, "Gray Court," at 802 Mount Curve.
This couple is representative of the upper
middle-class households attracted to Kenwood at
the end of the 19th Century.
Slide 22 The farmstead of the Lyndale Farm,
built by William S. King in 1870, was located
near the intersection of 35th street and Bryant
Avenue. This farm was the largest solely-owned
property in the history of Minneapolis. King
hoped to live the life of a country squire on an
estate that stretched from 34th Street, south to
Lake Harriet, between Lyndale and Hennepen
Avenue. He eventually owned 1400 acres. King was
active in publishing, politics, and agriculture.
He had various pure-bred animals and was an
early supporter of the Minnesota State Fair. His
land was involved in complicated litigation,
which he won. As a token, he donated the shores
of his lakes to the City of Minneapolis. The farm
was subdivided in the 1880's.
Slide 23 This map from Calvin Schmid's book, A
Social Stage of Two Cities, shows the movement
of the wealthy population of Minneapolis from
the old core to the newly developed elite
suburbs of the Lake District.
Slide 24 Louis Menage came west to Minneapolis
for his health. He worked in lumber milling for a
while and then began a spectacular career in
real estate development. He is reputed to have
platted more lots than any other person in the
history of the city. He owned the Lyndale Hotel
and was involved in the litigation over the King
Farm, which he thought he purchased. He was on
every civic and chartable organization in the
city during his time. He also built the city's
major landmark, the Guarantee Loan Company's
building, which was later renamed the
Metropolitan Building. Financial problems forced
him to leave the city quickly for Central
America. He never returned to the city he helped
Slide 25 This shows the steamboat Hattie that
carried excursionists and commuters from the dock
of the street car company on the eastern shore
of Lake Calhoun to a series of passenger docks
around the shores of the lake.
Slide 26 This plat for the east shore of Calhoun
illustrates how the railroad served the
community. The Forman mansion replaced the
Lyndale hotel on the hill above the train
station. The larger lots toward the southernmost
end of the development were for the villas that
were to be built by high-class households
however, the development of Lake Minnetonka
further west drew all the very wealthy
households for whom the large lots on Calhoun
were intended. With the coming of the street car,
the area was divided into smaller lots for
middle-class households.
Slide 27 Modern topographic map of the lake
Slide 28 Menage had expected to divide his
property on the western shore of Lake Calhoun
into large lots for suburban villas. His
financial problems prevented this and the site
was re-platted.
Slide 29 The second plan for the western shore
of Lake Calhoun called for many more small lots
in recognition of the change in status of the
lake shore. This plan was never developed and
the site become the Minikahda Golf Club.
Slide 30 The lakes were not immediately
attractive to home developers, so the park
district undertook extensive landscaping and
dredged the marshy shores to make the lakes
better suit the style and taste of the time.
Slide 31 Steam dredge on Lake of the Isles.
Part II Life on the Lakes
Slide 33 Monk's Dock on the north shore of Lake
Calhoun, the sign on the boat reads "Across the
Lake 5, Around the Lake 10" The commercial
buildings and ice houses that lined the north
shore are visible in the background.
Slide 34 This photograph captures the climatic
moment in the celebration of the linking of the
lakes the "Maid of the Isles" sails through the
opened gates in June, 1911. This celebration
eventually was transformed into the Aquatential,
Minneapolis's annual civic celebration. The
linking of the lakes was a fulfillment of the
early plans to develop the set of water bodies as
an integrated recreation feature.
Slide 35 The lakes have long been a place for
recreation. Here we see bathers enjoying a dip in
Lake Calhoun in 1906. Notice the large number of
boats and boat houses along the shore. These were
gradually removed as the Park Board established
more regulations for the public space.
Slide 36 This long line of men is waiting to get
into the new Lake Calhoun bathhouse (changing
facility) in 1912.
Slide 37 Female swimmers in 1900 had to be
strong or not go too far into the water because
they were completely covered in their bathing
Slide 38 These woman are wading and therefore
have their street dresses on. Before it could be
published, the censor had to remove the girl's
bare knees from this 1908 bathing scene on Lake
Slide 39 In 1898, women were taking up golf on
the area's course and adding to the image of the
area as a place for the leisure class.
Slide 40 The Minikahda golf course in 1900.
Notice the lack of trees and small bags carried
by the caddies.
Slide 41 Horse racing on the Lake of the Isles
was an exciting sport in the early years of the
20th Century.
Slide 42 Landscape design and taste has always
been a key element in the Lake District. This
article calls attention to the major efforts to
plant a forest on the former prairies around the
Slide 43 With effort, the Lake District was
transformed to accommodate the automobile. This
early advertisement gives clues about the use of
the first cars. The suburban landscape was
ideally suited to the recreational use of autos
and additionally provided a relatively easy
commute to the city center.
Slide 44 For a short time, ice-boating was a
popular sport. Sportsmen like this individual on
Lake Calhoun in 1901 were able to reach high
speeds on the smooth ice. The frequency of
crashing gradually diminished the sport's
popularity. It is interesting to note the modern
sailboarders seem to share a love of speed with
the Lake District residents of a century ago.
Slide 45 Before indoor arenas, skating on huge
outdoor rinks (frozen lakes) was enormously
popular. Here we see the trotting course,
skating, and hockey rinks that the park board
created on the southeast corner of Lake of the
Slide 46 Calhoun Park Plat a later plan for
real estate development on the east side of the
lake. This scheme, developed after the
inter-urban line was extended through the
neighborhood to the western suburbs, shows once
again how the developer shrunk lot size to
appeal to a broader market.
Slide 47 Cadillac, fur coat, stylish woman and
the lakes of Minneapolis. This photo captures the
image of the Lake District that was being honed
by property developers and businessmen in the
Slide 48 Northwest corner of Lake and Calhoun.
Abdullah's candy store dominated this classy
street car corner business block. The large
plate glass windows developed to allow commuters
to window shop, but since they also trapped the
solar heat the in summer, canvas awnings were
used to provide shade. This corner continues to
thrive with new uses.
Slide 49 The east side of Hennepin Ave in 1925.
Here we see the basic commercial strip that
emerged to serve the prosperous middle class
houses of the expanding communities.
Slide 50 Lake Street just west of Lyndale in
1920. The large local market made possible the
sale of a wide range of goods and services in
the neighborhood. Signs in this scene advertise
convenience goods as well as financial and
professional services.
Slide 51 The 1920's saw the flowering of movie
theaters on the streetcar routes in neighborhoods
of all incomes. The Lake District soon had a
dazzling set of structures this is the Calhoun
Theater/Lakeland Academy with its elaborate
Slide 52 The popularity of Rudolf Valentino in
the Sheik sparked a very fanciful theater
designed based loosely on the Moorish
architecture of Spain. This is the Granada, later
the Suburban World.
Slide 53 The Schlampp Building in 1927. The new
fur coat required cold storage during Minnesota's
hot summers. This is of course another
indication of the presence of high income
shoppers in the neighborhood. But Schlampps
serviced a wider clientele who came to shop in
the new autos.
Slide 54 Mansion on Hennepin Avenue. At first
Hennepin was promoted as a boulevard for mansions
such as St. Paul's Summit Avenue. However, the
Park Board refused to accept this, so the early
mansions like this one were replaced with
apartments and commercial structures.
Slide 55 Early commercial building on Hennepin
Slide 56 The Forman Mansion replaced the Lyndale
Hotel on the height of land on the eastern shore
of Calhoun. Here is one of the main rooms the
wicker furniture gives the room a lightness that
may indicate some sort of conservatory or
southern exposure.
Slide 57 The Greek Orthodox Church of St. Mary
has replaced the Forman Mansion on the eastern
shore of Lake Calhoun.
Slide 58 This advertisement for a house on Lowry
Hill gives us an insight into the lifestyle of
the area's residents. The occupants of this
house were expected to live formal lives with
special spaces for entertainment. In addition,
there are areas for the private lives of the
family. The large windows and porches were
designed to make extensive use of natural light
and circulate air.
Slide 59 The William L. Donaldson house, 25
Groveland Terrace, built in the 1890's in the
Romanesque style.
Slide 60 The Dunwoody mansion in 1908 with
extensive gardens. Dunwoody was one of the
pioneer flour millers of Minneapolis. He
commissioned William Chaning Whitney to build
this Tudor Revival brick residence in 1905.
Slide 61 Panoramic view of the southern shore of
Lake of the Isles, date unknown but after 1910.
Slide 62 The extravagant mansion "C. G. Gates"
once stood on Lake of the Isles Boulevard, but
was razed in 1933. This house was reputed to be
the largest and most expensive house in
Minnesota. It was designed by Chicago architects
Marshall and Fox, built in 1913 for a reported
coast of 1,000,000, the mansion was not
completed when its owner Charles G. Gates died.
C.G. Gates was heir to the fortune of John W.
Gates known fondly as "Bet-a-Million" Gates. The
house was never really occupied.
Slide 63 Home on west Lake of the Isles. The
house really does not fit into the established
styles, but the special look gives it a Tudor
Cottage flavor.
Slide 64 The Purcell house, 2328 Lake Place.
This house of the architect William Purcell,
built in 1913, is a great example of the Prairie
School tradition of architecture. It is now owned
by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and open to
the public for tours on designated days.
Slide 65 House of John G. Gluck at 2447 South
Bryant, built in 1902 for 10,000. It was
designed by William Kenyon for a branch of the
Gluck family, a name made familiar by its brewing
company label. It is a Colonial Revival house.
Slide 66 This house, at 2741 South Bryant, is an
example of the small houses built for middle
class households wishing to settle in the areas
between Hennepin and Lyndale.
Slide 67 A 1910 streetscape of Colfax Avenue
looking north at the corner of Twenty-Second
Slide 68 2701 Dupont, on the southeast corner,
is the most elegant house on the block. It was
built in 1884 for 7500. This two and one-half
story shingled Queen Anne style dwelling shows
costly touches on every façade. For example, the
chimney is constructed of special brick and
decorated with a terra-cotta panel.
Slide 69 This is one of the earliest houses in
the area south of Lake Calhoun. The Andreaus
Ueland houses was located on Richfield Road.
Ueland was a Norwegian immigrant who developed a
successful law practice.
Slide 70 On the south side of Lake Calhoun is a
small community named Cottage City which does
not resemble the rest of the Linden Hills
district. It was laid out in small twenty-five
foot lots with the expectation that small and
simple houses would be built. Few houses were
built until long after the area's developer
Louis Menage had left the scene. We do not know
if all the small houses were built as summer
homes, but some must have been. Building permits
indicated some homes were built for 350. This
house is one of the better examples of the
smaller homes built in the area.
Slide 71 The Walkers Gallery, when first
contracted in 1927, resembled a Moorish-Venetian
palace to fit the styles of the time. Thomas B.
Walker bought Lowry's house in 1915 and replaced
it with this structure to house his private art
Slide 72 In 1944, the Walker Gallery was given a
new façade, more in keeping with the art
Slide 73 The complex was rebuilt and expanded in
Slide 74 The Guthrie Theater, as it appeared
when constructed in 1963. The development of the
Guthrie Theater was a great step for the
theatrical community in the Twin Cities. It was a
statement that the Twin Cities wanted to host
national-level productions. The location of the
theater in the Lake District was an easy
decision because they wanted it to take
advantage of the accessibility of the Lowry Hill
location and the ambiance of the high quality
housing. The Walker Art Gallery also provided a
landmark to help established the Guthrie's image
Minnesota residents' mental maps.
Slide 75 The Guthrie Theater in the late 1970's,
after the removal of the original façade.