1 20th Ave. S
Minneapolis, MN 55454
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Bluff Street Park features the Bedrock Bluff Prairie Restoration Area.
See what's currently in the works for this park. Some projects may be under the name of the regional park or service area it lives within. View Current Projects
Major investments at Central Gym Park in 2018 were made possible with funding from the 20-Year Neighborhood Park Plan. This historic agreement between MPRB and the City of Minneapolis helps address racial and economic equity across 160 neighborhood parks and provides $11 million annually to maintain, repair and replace facilities.
Name: Bluff Street Park was named after the abandoned Bluff Street, which ran from the end of 20th Avenue South under the 10th Avenue Bridge. Portions of this old roadbed can still be seen. The park was officially named in 2009, after being referred to unofficially for many years as “Tank Holder #5 site”. The park is currently a part of Mississippi Gorge Regional Park and the National Park Service’s Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. The Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park Master Plan calls for the southern expansion of its boundary to Bridge No. 9. This expansion would include Bluff Street Park when the plan is adopted by the Met Council in late 2016.
Acquisition and Development
Most of the land for the park was purchased October 16, 1985 from First National Bank of St. Paul as part of the Great River Road development.
The acquisition was complicated by ownership entanglements and the need for environmental remediation of the site. The river bluff had been the site of a coal gasification plant from the 1870s until 1961 when the gas works was demolished. However, part of the site still contained a peak shaving plant and underground pipes and storage for the natural gas company, Minnegasco.
Minnegasco and the Park Board began working together to remediate the site in the 1980s and intensified those efforts in 1987 when James Rice Parkway was opened on the west bank of the river from Plymouth Avenue to Portland Avenue upriver from the future park site. At that time, the goal was to connect West River Parkway from 4th Street North along the river flats, past the erstwhile city harbor and Bohemian Flats Park to Portland Avenue South. Those river parkway connections were made in four construction stages from 1990 to 1998 culminating in a continuous river parkway from Plymouth Avenue in North Minneapolis to Minnehaha Park in South Minneapolis. Remediation of pollutants on the site was completed by 2000.
The I-35W Bridge over the Mississippi River was built near the site in 1966. After the horrific collapse of the I-35W Bridge in 2007, the company contracted to rebuild the bridge rented the park land as a construction staging site. The bridge contractor restored the staging area to turfgrass after completing their work.
Following an agreement between the Park Board and the City of Minneapolis in 2013, the City built a bicycle and pedestrian trail under the freeway and across the far southern edge of the park. This new trail connects downtown Minneapolis with Bridge No. 9 and the Dinkytown Greenway through the University of Minnesota.
In the same year, 2013, the Park Board approved a Landscape Planting Plan that restores 1.5 acres of the upper portion of the park to a bedrock bluff prairie. This bluff edge area of Minneapolis along the Mississippi River had a specific pallet of plant species prior to the settlement of Minneapolis, and the plan suggests species that are most likely to have been in this area. The bedrock bluff prairie planting was installed in the fall of 2015. Maintenance of this unique downtown planting includes mowing and burning over the course of six seasons. Once established, the prairie will be very low maintenance.
History written by David C. Smith, with additions by MPRB.