3101 Bryant Ave. S
Minneapolis, MN 55408
10 am - 9 pm daily
Memorial Day through Labor Day*
*Wading pools located on or adjacent school sites will open after the last day of school and close the day before school begins. These dates are determined by Minneapolis Public Schools and change each year.
Ice rinks are closed for the season.
Recreation Center: Bryant Square Recreation Center
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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.
In 2008 a small amphitheatre, the Bryant Square Park POPS (Public Outdoor Performance Space), was built into the hillside south of the park’s recreation center. It features a 20 foot circular plaza with two rows of retaining wall seating.
The POPS is the site of the park's own summer concert series. Other potential uses include comedy, karaoke and movie nights, theater camp, dances and ice cream socials. The POPS is available for private rental by calling the recreation center.
The park was commonly referred to as 8th Ward Park until it was officially named for its location on Bryant Avenue in 1907. Bryant Avenue was presumably named for American poet and journalist William Cullen Bryant.
The park was designated for purchase in late 1903. The purchase was completed in 1904 for a little more than $9,000. The board agreed to complete the purchase only after neighborhood improvement associations promised to fill the land themselves before asking the park board to make improvements. The problem was that the land for the park was very low land, as much as twenty feet below street level.
The neighborhood associations had a hard time filling the land even when it was used as a garbage dump for a time. Nearly four years later fill was still a problem. Theodore Wirth reported in early 1908 that the park still needed fill and that “until we know where to get it” improvements to the park were “impossible.” Finally in 1912, after eight years of no success finding fill for the park, the park board spent nearly $6,000 to purchase fill to raise the level of the park so that it could be improved and used.
In 1913 trees were planted in the park, but money was not available for other improvements. Some playground equipment was added to the park in 1914 and the open field was used for football, baseball and a skating rink in winter. In his 1914 superintendent’s report, Theodore Wirth provided a plan for the development of Bryant Square by which, he said, the sunken play-field could be made one of the “most compact and useful playgrounds” of the entire system. Wirth provided cost estimates for the improvements that he said could serve as a “standard for other playgrounds of a similar size.”
While Wirth may have considered his plans for a recreation shelter and equipment “standard,” the park board apparently did not, because Wirth urged seven years later that Bryant Square still needed a small shelter and suggested that it could be paid for with a small property assessment on the district.
Although nothing came of plans for development of the playground, the recreation instructor assigned to the park was being noticed. Alice Dietz was mentioned in the 1918 annual report for her work at the park. She would later become one of the leaders of the park board’s greatly expanded recreation programs in the 1920s and 1930s.
In 1923, the park board authorized plans to build a recreation shelter and hired architect and former park commissioner Harry Wild Jones to create plans. The building was completed in 1925 at a cost of only $15,000. The building stood for 45 years until it was demolished in 1970 and replaced by a new recreation center.
In 2008 a small amphitheater, the Bryant Square POPS (Pubic Outdoor Performance Space), was built into the hillside south of the park’s recreation center. The recreation center was also upgraded that year to improve energy efficiency.
In 2012 two multipurpose sports fields were renovated with funding and dozens of volunteers provided by Toro and the Minnesota Twins.
New flooring and furnaces were installed at the rec center in 2016, along with five new decorative mosaic panels. Each panel depicts a different theme: spring/summer, winter, autumn, water and butterfly garden.
History through 2008 written by David C. Smith, with updates from 2009 to present written by MPRB.