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Columbia Park Neighborhood

Columbia Park Neighborhood

Columbia Park is a neighborhood in the Northeast community in Minneapolis. Its boundaries are 37th Avenue NE to the north, Central Avenue to the east, 27th Avenue NE to the south, and both University Avenue & Saint Anthony Parkway streets to the west.

Landmarks
Columbia Park is a 183 acres (0.74 km2) park complex including Columbia Golf Course, paths and trails, a playground, picnic area, dog park and other amenities. Prior to the park’s development, the location was home to a large shallow lake named “Lake Sandy” or “Sandy Lake.” It was gradually drained and filled in as the park was further developed, disappearing from city maps by 1914-1915.

Small businesses are scattered through the neighborhood and also situated along Central Avenue.

History of Columbia Park

Columbia Park’s name goes back to the year 1892, which was the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to America.

A map of Minneapolis that was published in the 1900 edition of Hudson’s Dictionary of Minneapolis shows Sandy Lake and a grid of streets to the southwest and west—numbered from 29th through 33rd avenues and 2-1/2 through 7th streets—but no streets at all to the north, where nearly all of Columbia Park’s current residential area lies.

In Where We Live: The Residential Districts of Minneapolis and Saint Paul by Judith A. Martin and David A. Lanegran (University of Minnesota Press, 1983), the authors’ map shows the Columbia Park neighborhood as “suburban-in-the-city.” This type of built environment is described as “left open and undeveloped until after World War II. This zone filled in during the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s . . . the housing here is typical of inner-ring suburbs: ranch houses, ramblers, brick and stucco bungalows, and Cape Cods.” One early exception to this pattern is Architect Avenue, so named because of a design competition among architects in about 1905.

Elsewhere in Northeast Minneapolis, the Waite Park neighborhood and the section of Windom Park between Stinson and New Brighton boulevards are identified as “suburban-in-the-city.”)

An intriguing Park Board map, dated December 1930, shows a proposed plan for the actual park area. It shows a winding road connecting Central Avenue at 33rd Avenue (the location of the golf course manor) with Columbia Parkway (where the park playground is now), via the Columbia Park Bridge (see below). It shows athletic fields to the southwest of the picnic shelter, a large parking area where the rugby pitch is located, and a swimming pool at the northwest corner of Central Avenue and St. Anthony Parkway. A PDF document of the map is available CP park plan 1930.

Lake Sandy – or Sandy Lake?
At one time the neighborhood had a large and shallow lake, named Lake Sandy, but all that remains today are some scattered wetlands within the golf course. Northeast historian Genny Zak Kiely included some material on the much-missed body of water in her 1980 book Pride and Tradition:

Sandy Lake—a popular recreation area from the late 1880s to early 1900s—was used early on for hunting and fishing, and at one point was the only city park with an ice rink, warming house, and concession stand. Apparently never measured for depth and volume, something happened in the early 1900s that caused it to begin shrinking; Some historians assert that it was fed by underground springs that ceased to flow. But before that, in 1893, the park board bought 183 acres—including 40-acre Sandy Lake—that became Columbia Park, and made plans for a citywide lake dredging program. Some evidence points toward material from Lake of the Isles having been dumped in Sandy Lake between 1907 and 1911. through that period, Sandy Lake shrinks on park board maps, and is gone altogether on the 1918 map.

Some of the area became part of the Soo Line rail yard, some part of the Columbia Park golf course. In 1918 the park drainage system was connected to the Soo Line’s and the meadow was deemed dry enough for athletic use. It was plowed and seeded in 1937, and fairways were installed in 1940.

References:

“Columbia Park, Minneapolis” │ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbia_Park,_Minneapolis

“History of Columbia Park” │ https://columbiapark.org/about-columbia-park-2/history-of-columbia-park/

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