Wheelock Parkway… an enigmatic throughway in St Paul

wheelock pkwy

As a young adult from “small city” North Dakota, Minneapolis/St Paul was a fascinating, exotic place. My wife and I often explored the fascinations of the “Cities”, like landmarks, parkways and neighborhoods. We were told that Wheelock Parkway was one “highlight” we should not miss. So, we cruised the parkway end to end. I remember both charming and stately homes along the divided roadway. Pretty “cool”!

Wheelock Parkway is still here after many years, an enigmatic throughway that used to capture much attention throughout the years and is still considered a unique city roadway. The Parkway starts and ends at two important landmarks of the City of St Paul; Lake Phelan on the east and Lake Como at the west termini. The two are the largest lakes in the City and were magnets to city dwellers who wanted lake vistas. Of course property values drew those who could afford to build large, impressive houses. There are other nice homes along the Parkway, but mostly at those ends of the 6 mile Parkway, near the lakes. Though varied along the way, the Phalen neighborhood has a great section of the Parkway that is tree-lined parkway ambiance. In particular between Payne and Arcade and Folsom and McCubbin the Parkway is great for walking.

The “designed” parkway through the city was conceived in the early 1900’s and finally laid out in 1909. The Wheelock name came from an early settler in St Paul who came to be a very important part of the the growing cities’ parks. Joseph Wheelock who served two significant functions in the civic life of the city, he was the founder and first editor of the Pioneer Press, and president of the St. Paul Board of Park Commissioners. Joseph was responsible for parks and boulevards in the city and was well liked and respected in the city.

Wheelock Parkway is actually the northern part of the grander Saint Paul Grand Round envisioned by landscape architect H.W.S. Cleveland in the late 1800s. It was seen as an unbroken chain of “parked” ways connecting the larger park spaces circling the city from Lake Phalen to Lake Como to the Mississippi River.


The first bike and walking trail was completed along Mississippi River Boulevard in the 1920s and most of the parkways were in place by the 1930s. But its development was never fully realized and trails along the southern corridor weren’t installed until 1980s-early 2000s.

There is currently a Design and Implementation Plan to continue the development of the approximately 27 miles of scenic parkways connecting parks and neighborhoods with pedestrian and bicycle facilities and completing the Saint Paul Grand Round illustrated in their map above from the Saint Paul Park System.

John and Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results – info@homesmsp.com

Written By

I love connecting with people and exploring cities, buildings, and communities... which led me to degrees in architecture and city planning. Now working with Sharlene, my wife of more than 50 years, I get to put it all together to help people navigate housing alternatives.

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