This month, we look back on the amazing outdoor accomplishments that expanded the depth and range of our city’s public spaces. We’ve highlighted a list of eleven new parks and park amenities that opened in Minneapolis this year. While this list does not include every park opening in 2021, it shares a broad collection of from across the city. The variety of features that these places offer is incredible, as they provide countless possible weekend outings to experience with friends and family. We hope you have many chances to visit, and revisit, all of these wonderful locations in the coming years!
#1. Water Works Park and Pavilion
Water Works is a Mississippi Riverfront park project overlooking St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge that brings historic, cultural, and recreational amenities to the most iconic location in Minneapolis and the region. Indoor and outdoor amenities include: General Mills Plaze with three gas firepits, Bank of America City Steps with social seating and terraced green spaces, Columbia Terrace with outdoor dining space and event lawn, the Nature Play Lab, mezzanine lawn with open green spaces, and dine-in and take-out Indigenous cuisine from Owámni by The Sioux Chef, preserved mill remnants from Bassett’s Sawmill and Columbia Flour Mill, visitor center welcome desk, Lenzmeier Family Foundation Classroom, six fully accessible bathrooms, and so much more. Read more about Water Works Park and Pavilion.
BONUS: Water Works Park and Pavilion was voted into USA TODAY’s “Best New Attraction” in 2021 Top 10 List.
#2. Reopening of the Carl W. Kroening Nature Center and Unveiling of the Nature in the City Exhibit
The Carl W. Kroening Nature Center is a nature center located within North Mississippi Regional Park. Opening earlier this year, the “Nature in the City” interactive exhibit connects visitors to the urban wildlife and natural worlds within North Mississippi Regional Park and other urban areas. The nature play area was supported by the work of People for Parks, now operating as the People for Parks Fund of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation. It is free to visit and open year-round. Read more about the The Kroening Nature Center.
#3. Elliot Skate Park
Opened in June of this year, the new Elliot Skate Park features a brand new design that expanded the skatepark footprint, added custom concrete skateboard elements, along with improved landscaping, a permeable paver patio, lighting, and public art. Additionally, it incorporates water management rain gardens with 225 plants and trees added to the space. It is first and foremost a great place for skateboarders, young and old, beginner and advanced, but also a wonderful public space that everybody is welcome to experience. Read more about the new Elliot Skate Park.
#4. Thomas Lowry Park – Seven Pools Replacement
The Seven Pools is a unique feature within the Minneapolis park system which features seven peacefully cascading pools with decorative plantings all around. Originally constructed in the 1920’s, all seven pools were completely rebuilt this summer with a new water re-circulation system. The update included complete replacement of pool masonry, new underground plumbing, new pump vault, and a recirculating pump.
#5. Overlook at 26th Ave N
The Overlook is the first new river park in North Minneapolis in more than fifteen years, and the first with a direct connection into the Hawthorne Neighborhood and historic Farview Park. The design was informed through three years of engagement led by youth apprentices and artists from Juxtaposition Arts, a nationally recognized nonprofit that is transforming community spaces in North Minneapolis through innovative youth-serving programs, and features an apprentice-designed interpretive steel rail. Read more about the Overlook at 26th Ave N.
#6. Okciyapi, by Angela Two Stars’ at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
On October 9, 2021, Okciyapi, by Angela Two Stars was unveiled at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The Walker announced the selection of Two Stars as the finalist for the Indigenous Public Art Commission in January of 2019, as it was selected by an Indigenous Public Art Selection Committee and Walker Art Center curatorial staff from more than 50 national and international submissions. This is the first work by Two Stars to enter the Walker’s world-renowned collection of contemporary art.
#7. Logan Park Pavilion
A new performance pavilion and timber frame shelter at the north side of the park was built at Logan Park in August of this year. The pavilion was built using the timber framing method of construction, a distinctive style of building that uses carefully fitted timbers with complex joints secured by large wooden pegs instead of nails or other mechanical fasteners. The new performance pavilion was supported by People for Parks, now operating as the People for Parks Fund of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation
#8. North Star Rowing Dock at the Upper Harbor Terminal
North Star Community Rowing installed and celebrated the opening of a brand new launch site on the Mississippi River in North Minneapolis! The dock was installed on their newly constructed and first-in-the-city ADA compliant walkway, making both rowing and make the river more accessible to everyone. Read more about Northstar Community Rowing here.
#9. Three new murals painted at: Beltrami Park, Logan Park, and Northeast Park
The new public art graces building exteriors at Beltrami, Logan, and Northeast Parks thanks to a project sponsored by three Northeast neighborhood organizations. The murals were designed and painted by Northeast Minneapolis-based Creatives After Curfew. Artists include Maiya Lea Hartman, Leslie Barlow, Maria Robinson, Clau Valentino, Silent Fox, Thomasina Topbear (City Mischief), with coordination by Taylan De Johnette and Tricia Heuring. Details were based on community engagement done by the artists and neighborhood organizations. Each mural highlights people, diversity, equity and inclusion in Northeast Minneapolis, while reflecting the identity, personality and uniqueness of each neighborhood.
#10. Currie Park Splash Pad
The older wading pool at Currie Park was removed and replaced with a new splash-pad this summer, offering a fun and refreshing play area at the park. Construction also included a new restroom building that is open seasonally during swim season. These updates are part of a first phase of improvements for Currie Park in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
#11. Armatage Park Playground
A new playground at Armatage Park was completed in August of 2021. The new amenities include: new playground equipment designed for universal accessibility, resurfacing of the existing play areas, an ADA-accessible swing, a belt swing, two infant swings, and a tire swing. The new playground was specifically designed to be universally accessible to children with a wide range of disabilities, featuring wheelchair-friendly surfacing and ramps to all platforms.