425 W 26th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Wading pools are closed for the season.
Recreation Center: Whittier Recreation Center
Name: The park was named for the Whittier neighborhood school, which was named for poet John Greenleaf Whittier.
Acquisition and Development
Whittier Park is another of Minneapolis’s parks that was developed decades after it was first proposed. In 1939 the park board issued an internal report on neighborhoods in the city that lacked recreation facilities. While the Whittier neighborhood was not at the top of the list of “acute” needs, it was included in a second category of neighborhoods that should be provided with a park when possible. Of course, with the advent of World War II, no parks were acquired or developed for many years.
A park for the neighborhood returned to the park board’s agenda in 1955, when neighborhood groups petitioned for a playground in the vicinity of Whittier School. For the next 18 years, the debate over a playground in the area raged in the neighborhood and the park board. One of the key issues was that the neighborhood had no open space; homes would have to be demolished to create a park. The sticking points were the dislocation of families and the cost of buying land that was already completely developed. (Many plots of land that had been acquired for playgrounds in earlier years were not covered with houses, often because they were low land that was undesirable for housing.)
In 1959 the park board actually allocated bond funds for the first time to begin buying land for the park, but continued opposition to the location of the park caused the park board to delay its plans repeatedly. The Whittier project was finally abandoned in 1963 and the bond funds reserved for the park were returned to the city. But the fight for a park in the neighborhood continued.
The park was not finally approved until 1973 when the park board seized the opportunity of obtaining federal funds from a new “Parks in the Cities” program to pay about half the cost of acquiring land. (The same program helped the park board purchase land for Willard Park and Mueller Park.)
The park board began construction of the Whittier Park recreation center and the adjoining playground, wading pool and athletic fields in 1975. In 1989 the recreation center was named for Roger Imme, a grocer who had operated a store across the street from the park. He had been shot and killed in his store during a robbery.
Park facilities were renovated in 1995. Upgrades to the community center in 2008-2009 improved security and energy efficiency.
Park history compiled and written by David C. Smith.