Scott Neal was selected this month as Edina's fourth City Manager, following three long-time managers who each served more than 20 years: Warren Hyde, Ken Rosland and Gordon Hughes.
His reason for moving from his position at the larger Eden Prairie was simply stated: "The community has prestige and a reputation," Neal said in the Star Tribune recently. "Edina is Edina. It's ... where many people wish to end up someday."
"Edina is Edina." Whether Neal intended it or not, he echoed a sentiment that appeared in a publication "Edina Grows: 1955-1966".
The brochure outlined the amazing suburban growth in the community during the first 11 years of Hyde's administration. The headline read "Edina is... Edina...Its Image... Its Firsts"
Hyde was dedicated to cultivating Edina's premier status, by supporting programs and projects that were the first of its kind in the metro area and sometimes even the nation. He urged his staff to think big and to win Edina wider acclaim, according to former Parks Director Bob Kojetin. Edina's park system grew to include the metro area's first municipal pool (1958), first municipal golf course (1964) and first year-around ice arena (Braemar in 1956).
Even before Hyde, Edina had long led the pack, being the first suburb in Hennepin County to appoint a planning commission (1929), enact a zoning ordinance (1931), construct a modern city hall (1954), and attract Southdale, the world's first fully enclosed shopping mall.
View the complete list of firsts in the document below. As the brochure stated proudly, "Unquestionably, there is an Edina image.
It's intangible, hard to pin down.
It's a combination of fact, fancy, and some spontaneous fanfare (essentially word-of-mouth fanfare). Few people move to Edina by chance."
Why did you move to Edina? Was it merely by chance or did Edina's leadership status in schools and/or city image play a role?
This Sports Illustrated photo and caption shows George Mikan's influence on basketball. But did he play a role in Edina history? Sports Illustrated: 'Led by dominant big man George Mikan, the Lakers won five titles in six years in Minneapolis (1949-50; 1952-54). They also reached the 1959 Finals behind Rookie of the Year Elgin Baylor but lost to the Celtics, who launched their run of eight consecutive championships. The Lakers moved to Los Angeles in 1960.'
A few times a year, a group asks us to lead a tour of historic landmarks in Edina. Along with the mill site and the County Club historic district, people want to see where famous Edinans have lived.
We're no Hollywood Stars tour, but we will point out the former homes of basketball great George Mikan and Twins owner Carl Pohlad by request. Other groups have been curious about movie star Tippi Hedren, who grew up in Morningside and later starred in such Hitchcock classics as "The Birds," or entrepreneur Curt Carlson, who started his business career as a Morningside paper boy.
I have been intrigued by the interest in famous native sons and daughters, and wonder what place their stories have in our community. What role, if any, do famous individuals have in Edina's history?
Take the case of Mardy Fish. I kept seeing "Edina native" in stories that described his recent tennis accomplishments. When I investigated further, I found out that he was born here but moved away when he was four. I don't think Edina can claim much credit in growing a tennis great, and Fish can't be noted for influencing Edina tennis. He barely rates a mention in our collection.
Compare Fish to Bob Zender, whose obituary and story appeared this week in the Star Tribune. Zender, a 6-foot-8 center, led the Hornets to three straight Minnesota State High School League championships from 1966 to 1968. The team lost only one game during that time period.
Bob helped define Edina's emerging high school identity as a sports power. Edina didn't even have a high school until 1949, but by the 1960s -- thanks to powerhouse teams and athletes like Zender -- it had become the "team you love to hate."
Even though Zender moved away to Kansas State for college and died in his adopted state at the age of 60, he has a place in Edina history forever.
For a listing of some other famous Edinans, see the Wikipedia page on Edina. What do you think? Who made a difference in our community? Who just claimed an address here, but didn't affect our history? Please comment by clicking on "Comments" at the top of today's entry.
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Jennifer Adam is the Executive Director of the Edina Historical Society. She welcomes your contributions. Comment on a post or send an email (see below). Traditional mail, of course, can also be sent to:
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