“I spent my formative years (ages 4-21, 1950-1967) one block away from the original Lilac Park and Rock Island, which we called “Monkey Island”. I lived at 2716 Toledo Avenue. I spent oodles of time at this park. Not only did I and friends play there, but annually our elementary school classes (both the former Fern Hill at 28th/Joppa and the former Ethel Baston (now Groves Academy) would trek there every spring for our annual school picnic outing. In those days, the ‘entrance ramp’ from Minnetonka Boulevard to Highway 100 was not what we think of them as being today. In fact, I don’t think YIELD signs had even been invented, which meant that when one got to the bottom of said ramp, one had to stop for a stop sign before proceeding on to NB 100.

Further, in those days, West 28th Street was actually a cross street of Highway 100! The ramp entrance reference above was to the east of Monkey Island, and it separated Monkey Island from a triangular shaped park area between the entrance ramp and Toledo Avenue, where many great ‘sandlot’ baseball games were played.

I think I even recall a time when Monkey Island’s water features (water streaming down the rock façade??) were functional, and I always thought the actual little island in the middle, accessible by crossing the little footbridge was quite exotic.

Rock Island Park and the south section of the original Lilac Park across Toledo Avenue from St. George’s Episcopal Church (with its ‘beehive’ fireplace for cooking) were key elements in the wonder of growing up in St. Louis Park in the 1950s. Great times and great memories!”

Submitted 5.26.17 and 4.4.20

Paul Linnee with his wife Jane, married since 1969.

Paul LinneeBloomington, MN

“I went to Park Hill Elementary School on Ottawa and Minnetonka Boulevard from 1958-1961. We used to walk to the original original Lilac Park and Rock Island for a picnic at the end of the school year! Great memories of playing hide and seek in all the lilac bushes. I grew up on Xenwood Avenue in St. Louis Park, and amazingly we used to run across Highway 100 in the mid-1960s (at that time I think Highway 100 was called Lilac Way) to play at that park. We also had a few family picnics there.”

Submitted 4.10.2019

Sharon LehrmanSt. Louis Park, MN

“I remember class picnics from Fern Hill School in St. Louis Park, where I attended 4th and 5th grade in 1950-51. The picnics were at Monkey Island (now Rock Island) during the last week of school in late May or early June. Monkey Island was actually a small Island (about the size of a kitchen) surrounded by a circular “moat” a couple yards wide and 2-3 feet deep. There was a little stone footbridge so a person could walk to the island. (more…)

Mike DickinsonSt. Louis Park, MN

“Growing up in St. Louis Park, I always Ioved the lilacs on Highway 100. My dad remembered driving on the road in the 1940’s and 1950’s. He told me, ‘You didn’t drive on Lilac Way, you drove TO Lilac Way.’ It was more than just a highway—it was a destination. All these years later, I’ve launched this website to maintain the legacy of the Lilac Way.”

Karen LaukkonenSt. Louis Park, MN | Lilac Way Enthusiast behind restorelilacway.com