Sent to the Strib Editorial Page Letters to the Editor submissions page—-
This is very interesting. Can you guess the identity of this person? Most of this description of him comes from webpage for theThe Honorable Cornelius Amory Pugsley Medals. These “are the most prestigious awards that recognize outstanding contributions to the promotion and development of public parks in the United States. Each year medals honoring extraordinary service are awarded at the National, State/Regional, and Local levels.” Our mystery person was a recipient. Here is some more about him.
In January, 1906, a new Park Superintendent arrived in Minneapolis. The park system consisted of 57 different properties, covering an area of 1810 acres with a total inventory value of $3.5 million. When he retired in 1935, the inventory showed a total area of 5241 acres contained in 144 properties with a total value of $19.1 million. He transformed marginal undeveloped land into parks, golf courses, flower gardens and boulevards. To eliminate swampy sections and frequent flooding, he dredged lakes and graded their banks. Then he designed a thoroughly integrated and coherent park system influenced by Frederick Olmsted’s visionary insights.
His ambition was to make the Minneapolis Park System unequaled in the country with its natural majesty and recreation opportunities. The Minneapolis Park System was so outstanding that park planners from throughout the world came to study its development. Organized around its chain of lakes, the system became widely acclaimed for its aesthetic and functional integrity.
While initially a follower of the traditional school of thinking that parks should be established first for beauty and aesthetic dignity and second for passive recreation, he became a strong proponent for the establishment of playgrounds and for the use of parks for active forms of recreation. He tore down fences that surrounded Minneapolis’ park turf areas, and put up signs reading “Please Walk on the Grass” to emphasize his conviction that parks are to be used.
The park, parkway and playground system, which he masterminded, is perhaps our community’s biggest asset and has made our city famous throughout the nation.
And the fun part of guessing who this famous Park Superintendent was? Go to http://www.minneapolisparks.org , click on “About MPRB” and then “A Brief History”.
Then call your Park Board Commissioner and ask who this person was and why isn’t he worthy of a mention in Park History!