View TPT documentary on Lilac Way
If you didn't have the good fortune to be in Minnesota in May, you missed a lovely lilac season. Even the few lilac bushes along Highway 100 provided beautiful blossoms and scent.
This year's display provided a small glimpse of what the roadway looked like in the 1930s when community groups planted more than 7,000 lilacs along Highway 100, nicknamed "Lilac Way" by the Minneapolis Tribune.
Highway 100 construction began in 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression. The WPA project put hundreds of men to work. They dug the road mainly by hand, instead of machinery, to keep workers employed as long as possible. The government program also employed stone masons, who created roadside parks with beehive-shaped barbecues, stone picnic tables, waterfalls and other features.
Roadway expansion took over the park-like road right of ways. However, during the past few years, some community groups began working to restore Lilac Way. Check out the Restore Lilac Way Campaign and the St. Louis Park Historical Society web sites for some great photos, video, articles and other links.
You can view an interesting documentary about this chapter in the roadway's history at Twin Cities public television (TPT) web site.
Sunday drives and roadside picnicking might be a thing of the past, but this summer take a short drive (before or after rush hour traffic) to see one of the original beehives, which was moved to Lilac Park at Highway 100 and Highway 5 to save it from demolition.
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