Minneapolis is known as the "City of Lakes" and nothing exemplifies it as much as its famous "Chain of Lakes". With 5 million visits each year, it is the most popular destination in the Minneapolis Park System. Its 13.3 miles of trails connect 5 city lakes and encircle Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles… they even have separate pedestrian and bike paths. It's hard to find a time when the paths aren't streaming with walkers and bikers out enjoying this treasure.
Thanks to the forward thinking of the early park system's ambitious plans to preserve the city's natural beauty, the Minneapolis Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway is America's most important urban scenic byway. Its 50 miles encompass seven byway districts, interconnecting with each other as well as other trails throughout the metro… one of the reasons Minneapolis is repeatedly named the most bike friendly city in the country and Minneapolis-St. Paul is ranked one of the top cities for living to stay young.
The lakes also have historical significance. Dakota chief Cloud Man oversaw a village in the area between Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet in the early 1800s… they were probably the first inhabitants of the city of Minneapolis. There is a stone just south of the parking lot at 36th St and Lake Calhoun Parkway recognizing the Dakota Sioux tribes that once lived there… and there is a bronze marker near Lake Harriet marking the first school in the area, the Lake Harriet Mission School founded in 1835 to serve the children of the Dakota settlement. You can find the marker just below the reconstructed streetcar station on the west side of Lake Harriet near the historic hand pump and across the street from the pavillion.
Lake Harriet was the first Minneapolis lake to be encircled by a roadway, completed in 1886. Its popularity today pales in comparison to what it was 100 years ago, when the streetcar line stopped by the lake and a series of grand pavilions attracted crowds for concerts… ostrich and pony rides were available for children… and hundreds of rental boats lined the west shore of the lake.
Sound like a great place to live? Linden Hills on the west side of Lake Harriet is one of the metro area's most coveted locations because of its small town feel complete with a 'downtown' business district, and homes surrounding all the city lakes are in high demand. Let me know if you would like to take a look!