From What I Can See — the Future of the Wirth House

A speech by student Harry Huberty to the Minneapolis Park Board at the September 1, 2004 regular meeting

“Thank you, Commissioner Young, for that wonderful introduction. My name is Harry Huberty. I live in the Macalester Groveland neighborhood of St. Paul. I’d like to speak about the future of the Theodore Wirth Home and Administrative Building.

Given that I’m from St. Paul, it’s funny that I should have concerns at all. I was raised for my entire life across the river, and for the vast majority of that time, I hated Minneapolis. There was plenty to keep my happy in St. Paul, and besides, the city across the river was foreign and dangerous soil to me — I can distinctly recall, in seventh grade, when it was nicknamed ‘Murderapolis.’ Except for the occasional bike ride along Minnehaha Parkway, I never visited Minneapolis. I never wanted to.

Then, in the fall of 2001, I fell in with the Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society. Originally, I was working on a school project, but wound up getting much more out of the experience. From the Legacy Society, I learned the story of Theodore Wirth and his vision for the park system of Minneapolis. Suddenly, those parkways I used to ride down had history behind them — history, and subtlety, and significance, and meaning. I began to notice more of Minneapolis. I began to appreciate it.

In fact, my opinion of Minneapolis changed forever during that fall. The city across the river ceased to be ‘Murderapolis’ — now it was a garden city, planned with its citizens in mind and grown to exhibit all its beauty. I began to feel pride for that city, for its beauty, for its history. I began to tell my friends its story, and show them the places I had discovered. Minneapolis was no longer foreign soil — now, it was my own city.

As Commissioner Young explained, I’ve now grown up and gone off to Dartmouth College. I love it there, but I often find myself defending Minneapolis from my east coast friends. They simply can’t seem to grasp the concept of a city with so many sports of green, planned and set aside for the people’s use. A city where one can walk six blocks and be at Lake Calhoun or Lake Hiawatha. And I always love coming back home to Minneapolis, to my parks, lakes and boulevards. And, while I’m becoming more and more aware that I may not spend the rest of my life here in Minnesota, Minneapolis — not St. Paul — will always feel like home to me. Some day, I plan to bring my children to this city so they can learn and love its history.

Today, we have a valuable opportunity to preserve the history of the Minneapolis parks for years to come. This is history, real and vital, and we must preserve it for future generations. My story can and should be the story of countless more children in the Twin Cities. If a kid from St. Paul can have so much pride in Minneapolis, how much more will its own youth have?

Please don’t let this incredible opportunity pass by. Give the Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society a chance to open up the doors to Theodore Wirth’s House, and to the entire history of Minneapolis’ parks. Allow the Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society to teach your children the history, the subtlety, the significance, and the meaning of Minneapolis and its wonderful parks — and their love and their pride will grow up with them. Thank you for your time.”