Riverside Park, located on the west-bank bluffs of the Mississippi River just north of I-94, appears at first glance to be a quiet, typical neighborhood park. Given a closer look, though, the park reveals complex layers of historical and natural interest. While the park refurbishment was somewhat typical of many neighborhood park renovations, it also featured some unusual twists.
The 40-acre park is actually one of the oldest in the city. It is located on two levels, with the steep, wooded river bluff and its WPA-era stone stairs and walls separating the upper and lower areas.
In recent years, the explosive growth of soccer’s popularity ran headlong into a system-wide shortage of areas large enough to accommodate a full-sized soccer field. The neighborhood around Riverside Park, with its large African immigrant population, is home to many soccer-lovers looking for a good field. The park refurbishment planning process led to consideration of a large meadow at the southeast portion of the park as a formal soccer field. That area had long been a passive greenspace also used for occasional pick-up games of softball and soccer. To retain maximum flexibility, the project included significant improvements to the meadow, but without the installation of permanent soccer goals so multi-purpose use would still be possible. The meadow was regraded for better drainage, an irrigation system was installed, and the field was seeded.
The Franklin Terrace Off-Leash Dog Park opened in 2001, was one of the first dog parks in the city. It was established in the park’s southernmost portion, separated from the rest of the park by the I-94 embankment. Within a 1.6-acre fenced area, dogs can run off-leash and play under the supervision of their owners.
Historical Profile: More information about this and other parks is included in Parks, Lakes, Trails and So Much More, a richly detailed account of the histories of Minneapolis’ renown recreational system.