Name: The park was named in 1955 for Alexander A. McRae, a banker who served as a park commissioner for 18 years and was the board’s president 1919-1921. He died during his second stint on the park board in 1944 at age 74. Until the park was formally named, it was referred to by its location on Chicago and 46th. Acquisition and Development The land for McRae Park was obtained partly through purchase by condemnation at a cost of $24,250, and partly from the state of Minnesota for nothing. The state had acquired the land through tax-forfeiture. The acquisition was completed in 1947. A 1944 study of the city’s park needs recommended that two playground parks be added to this southern section of the city, but no sites were available, or affordable, at the time. In 1946, however, a neighborhood group, the Shenandoah Playground Association, asked the park board to consider a site at 46th and Elliot for a park. Several parcels of land were on the state’s tax-forfeiture list. The park board asked the state to withhold those lots from its land sale and added to them by purchasing adjoining land. Land nearby had been offered as a park nearly six decades earlier. In 1888, the owner of the forty acres of land from 44th to 46th streets between Chicago and Portland had offered to sell the land to the park board for $1,800 an acre. The park board declined, saying that the property was “undesirable” for park purposes and the price “unreasonable.” Plans to develop the park into a playground and athletic fields were completed in 1953, as were special assessment procedures to bill area property owners for the costs of developing the park. Construction of the park was begun in late 1954 and completed in 1956. The new park had baseball, softball and football fields, a hard-surface area for basketball and volleyball, two tennis courts, a concrete wading pool, a small playground shelter and warming house, and playground equipment. The park was dedicated in 1955 as McRae Field. The final grading and sodding and installation of sidewalks and picnic tables were finished in 1956. At the beginning of a cycle of major improvements to park facilities throughout the city in the 1970s, new playground equipment was installed at McRae in 1969. Seven years later, the original small park shelter was expanded into a recreation center. A new play area for small children was added in 1996 and in 1998 a permanent hard-surface skating rink was constructed that permitted year-round skating, in winter on blades and summer on wheels. Energy efficiency was the goal of improvements to the rec center in 2008 and 2010. And in 2009 new lighting and fencing was installed on the playing fields. Neighborhood revitalization funds were used for many of these improvements. McRae Park was the park in which Edward Solomon came to prominence in park affairs. Solomon was a frequent volunteer at the park, especially as a football coach. Solomon was appointed to fill a vacancy on the park board in 1996 following the death of long-time park commissioner Dale “Skip” Gilbert, and was elected to the board in 1997. He became board president in 2000. He died while in office in 2002. One of the newest parks in the city, southwest of Lake Nokomis, was named for Solomon in 2004. In 2016, outdoor pickleball striping was added to the tennis courts. Park history compiled and written by David C. Smith.