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Loring Park Neighborhood

Loring Park Neighborhood

Loring Park is the largest park in the Central Community of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Located on the southwest corner of downtown Minneapolis, it also lends its name to the surrounding neighborhood.

History
Loring Park was established in 1883 after the passage of the Park Act, which first created the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. The park was first named Central Park. In 1890 the park was renamed again in honor of Charles Morgridge Loring, who was the first president of the park board in Minneapolis.

Loring Park was purchased by the Minnesota Public Parks board on April 28, 1883. The land was purchased for $150,000 and contained 30 acres of land. A few more pieces of land were added to the park for a total cost of $350,000. This was the first plot of land that was purchased by the Minnesota Public Parks board. Shortly after purchasing the land, the Minneapolis Public Parks board hired George Brakett and Horace Cleveland to design the park and to drain the bog in the lake. They used plants that were brought in from nearby woods to complete the design for the park. They also decided at this time to make the park pedestrian only.

In 1906 the first permanent building in any Minneapolis park was constructed in Loring Park. The heated two-story shelter was donated by Charles Loring and was used as a warming house, recreation center and kindergarten. In 1960, the park renovated the shelter to be used as a space for senior programs. It was the first Minneapolis park to provide senior activities. Loring Park was the first park in Minnesota to have electric lights. The lights were installed in fall of 1884 to be used to illuminate the pond during winter skating season. In 1916 the local General Mills Company provided the park with 91 electric lights.

Berger Fountain at Loring Park, Minneapolis, MN.
Loring Park was the center of the case Johnson v. Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB). This lawsuit was between the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and Brian Johnson over First Amendment rights. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that MSRB can not ban non-commercial material distribution in the park unless the material violates the law.

Events
Loring Park is the venue for various annual events. The Twin Cities Pride Festival, the Loring Park Artists’ Festival and the wintertime Holidazzle are some of the more famous events. Loring Park’s location directly across from the Walker Art Museum makes it a fitting venue for the annual Loring Park Artists’ Festival and a series of smaller artist gatherings.

In 2014 and 2015 Chipotle held their Cultivate free music and culinary festival in Loring Park. The 2014 lineup included Portugal. The Man, The Mowgli’s, and Grouplove. Walk the Moon, Atlas Genius, X Ambassadors, Anderson East, and Hippo Campus were all slotted to appear at the 2015 festival. Andrew Zimmern and Richard Blais also attended the event, a part of the festival’s gratuitous “Chef Demos.”

In addition, Loring Park is home to the annual “Winterfest at Loring Park,” which in 2016 included horse-drawn carriage rides, holiday crafts and the local Kairos Dance Company. It is hosted by the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board.

Beginning in 2016 the Minneapolis Downtown Council moved the annual Holidazzle winter event, which had previously been held downtown on Nicollet Mall, to the park due to the two year construction project along Nicollet Mall. The huge winter event attracts thousands of people and runs weekends from Thanksgiving through Christmas and focuses on local food vendors, a performance stage, fireworks, locally produced holiday gifts, a large beer tent, visits with Santa and many events for children. In addition, a skating rink and large warming house tent is set up which continues through early March as part of the event. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic Holidazzle did not take place in 2020.

Neighborhood Characteristics
Notable buildings near Loring Park include the Walker Art Center, 430 Oak Grove (Northwestern National Life Insurance Company Home Office), Basilica of St. Mary, St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Minneapolis Convention Center, and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The park is surrounded by apartment buildings, many dating from the early 1900s, although recent construction in the area has brought many new town homes and condominiums to the area.

Loring Park is locally known for its diverse social environment and as a nexus for many arts and cultural events, boasting over 300 businesses and institutions. The Loring Park District, according to its official site, offers the “quintessential urban lifestyle,” a blend of “condominium and apartment living.” The philosophy of the district is one of coalescence: it seeks to mix the old with the new, desiring to become quaint and charming through its combining of the modern with the “historic brownstone.”

The Loring Park neighborhood is bordered by I-94 to the south, Hennepin/Lyndale Avenues to the west, Hawthorne Avenue to the North and 12th Street marks the boundary between it and the core downtown.

The neighborhood is one that can truly be called diverse and unique in many ways. It is primarily an adult community comprised of young professionals, retired suburban homeowners seeking the benefits of urban living and a growing population of eastern European immigrants. Total population according to the 2000 census is 7,501, an increase of 14% since 1990. The median age is 36.3, mostly white and only 176 households with individuals under the age of 18. We love to live together given the fact that there are virtually no single-family dwellings in the neighborhood!

Loring Park is unique in its diversity and acceptance of all lifestyles. Those who might feel unwelcome in many neighborhoods, find Loring Park a safe place to live and work. Adding to the security of living in the neighborhood is the fact that the crime rate is among the lowest of all Minneapolis neighborhoods.

References:

“Loring Park” │ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loring_Park

“About Loring Park Neighborhood” │ https://loringpark.org/about-loring-park-neighborhood/#:~:text=The%20Loring%20Park%20neighborhood%20is,and%20unique%20in%20many%20ways.

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