Partners: Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
Status: Early planning stage
Water Works is a project of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board within Mill Ruins Park overlooking Saint Anthony Falls (Owámniyomni). This area is rich in historical significance and a place where this history, community, nature and industry intersect. The river has served as a key transportation corridor and the milling industry was the foundation for much of the modern city.
The falls have been a sacred place for indigenous communities for thousands of years. Also, culturally significant to the Dakota, Spirit Island (Wanagi Wita) was located at the falls and destroyed when the lock and dam in the area was constructed.
In the mid-19th century, flour mills, powered by the falls, brought diverse people together for jobs. While other infrastructure in the Saint Anthony Falls Heritage District currently tells the story of the milling history, the role of African Americans, Indigenous people, and women within the area is less visible. Research suggests the nearby railroad depots that served the mills, included a significant African American population of porters and red caps, including some who may have boarded in the adjacent entertainment district. In the 1960’s Reiko Weston built the Fuji Ya restaurant into the existing mill walls, which signified a return to the riverfront as a destination for people and not industry.
The first phase of Water Works includes a public pavilion building and a mix of outdoor spaces including a multipurpose lawn area, outdoor seating plazas, terraced city steps that may also serve as a performance area, play area and circulation improvements. The former railroad corridors and other industrial areas will be reflected in the park design. The new pavilion will be a public building with a lobby, stairway and elevator to the rooftop and upper parking level, multipurpose room, restrooms and a food vendor.
A future Water Works phase includes reconfigured trails, public river access, and unearthing of additional historic infrastructure to create a sunken event space and a plaza area with water features.
Public art locations and projects have not yet been identified.