By 1917 Minneapolis was experiencing what Bennett identified as the beginnings of a “southwest surge” in unplanned development in that direction from the city’s downtown core. Bennett’s idea was to concentrate commerce, culture, and recreation along a proposed boulevard to reserve the entire Lake District area of Minneapolis as a grand park with gardens and a pavilion at the boulevard’s southwest terminus. He proposed even larger bands of parkland further to the southwest to constrain residential development and maintain open public space. Bennett believed the importance of open space “cannot be overstated” for the health and prosperity of residents.
This view of the “Sixth Avenue Artery, Looking Southwest” shows a boulevard cutting across the existing street grid, with the proposed Civic Plaza in the foreground. The new Minneapolis Institute of the Arts faces a small park farther down the boulevard. Another plaza at Lyndale Avenue and Thirty-Sixth Street, which was to be widened into a broad green boulevard, culminates in a grand pavilion at Lake Harriet. Along and beyond Lakes Calhoun and Harriet and following Minnehaha Creek (near the top of the page) is a vast green space extending from the Lake District to the Creek’s confluence with the Mississippi River. Bennett’s caption emphasizes the economic and quality of life benefits that would be gained from constructing such a boulevard, identifying it as a key element of the Plan of Minneapolis, though he did acknowledge “legal problems” that might constitute barriers to this grand plan. Bennett returned to this issue in a separate chapter that concluded with an appeal to the “civic spirit.” Neither the civic plaza nor the boulevard were ever built.
Bennett, Edward H., and Andrew Wright Crawford. The Plan of Minneapolis, Prepared Under the Direction of the Civic Commission. Minneapolis: The Civic Commission, 1917.
Gordon, David L.A. “The Other Author of the 1908 Plan of Chicago,” Planning Perspectives 25, 2 (April 2010).
Lanegran, David A. The Lake District Of Minneapolis: A History of the Calhoun-Isles Community. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004.
Oredson, Vincent. “Planning at City: Minneapolis, 1907-17.” Minnesota History 33 (Winter 1953).
Bennett, Edward H. “General Plan of Minneapolis, Minnesota showing a complete street and park system, prepared for the Civic Commission of Minneapolis, 1917.” The Minnesota Historical Society. http://reflections.mndigital.org/cdm/ref/collection/mpls/id/10678
Bennett, Edward H., and Andrew Wright Crawford. “The Plan of Minneapolis, Prepared Under the Direction of the Civic Commission.” The American Libraries Digital Archive. https://archive.org/details/planminneapolis00crawgoog
Minnesota Historical Society, “Collections Up Close: The City Beautiful.” http://discussions.mnhs.org/collections/2008/10/the-city-beautiful/
“Sixth Avenue Artery, Looking Southwest,” in Edward H. Bennett and Andrew Wright Crawford The Plan of Minneapolis, Prepared Under the Direction of the Civic Commission (Minneapolis: The Civic Commission, 1917). Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, The Art Institute of Chicago