Dig deeper into Lilac Way’s story.

Once you start down the rabbit hole, you’ll be amazed where it takes you. Includes links to old news articles, National Park Services info, aerial maps and more.

Resources will be added as they are available. Have something to share on this page? Contact Karen.

Click on a category to open that section.

Aerial maps & photography

Please note: The images on these sites are large and may load a bit slowly.

Hennepin County Aerial Photography Index, University of MN Libraries. Aerial photos of Lilac Way have a wealth of info—parks, roads, landscaping, etc.

Maps of particular Lilac Way interest include 1937, 19401951, 1953, 1956, 1957, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1991.

Hennepin County Interactive Maps. Shows aerial views, 2000 to present day.

Hennepin County Aerial Photography, University of MN Libraries.

Maps of particular Lilac Way interest include:

Minnesota Historical Aerial Photographs Online, University of MN Libraries. Shows aerial photos from 1920 – 2000. Easy to use, just zoom into your preferred area and select a time period.

Arthur Nichols, Landscape Architect

Dierckins, Tony, and Nelson, Nancy S. 2017. “Morell & Nichols”. Excerpt from Duluth’s Historic Parks: Their First 160 Years. Duluth, MN: Zenith City Press.

Kopischke, Greg. 1995. “Morell, Anthony Urbanski and Nichols, Arthur Richardson.” Pioneers of American Landscape Design II, An Annotated Bibliography. Edited by Charles A. Birnbaum and Julie K. Fix. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior.

Carl Graeser, Engineer

Carr, Donnie. 1982. “‘Father of Highway 100’ Carl Graeser’s Legend lives on.” MnDOT Scene Newsletter,  July/August 1982. Transcribed to easy-to-read web format, with link to original article.

Author unknown. 1911. “Carl Frederick Wilhelm Graeser, B.S. Norwich University, 1909.” Excerpt from Norwich University 1819-1911 – Her History, Her Graduates, Her Roll of Honor. Vol. 3. Montpelier, Vermont: The Capital City Press, 1911. Transcribed to easy-to-read web format, with link to original article.

Johnson, Bernard Thomas. “Carl Graeser and the Beehive Fireplaces” St. Louis Park Historical Society. Bernard’s father, Bernie Johnson, worked as a young engineer on the original survey of Highway 100, in the early 1930s. These writings are memories of what his father told him about Carl Graeser, his boss.

Quigley, Walter E. 1944. “TAPS, Carl F. Graeser, Class of 1909.” News Issue of the Norwich University Record. Vol. 35, May 12, 1944. Vermont: Norwich University. Transcribed to easy-to-read web format, with link to original article.

Climate change and lilacs

Budburst.org. Learn how lilacs are affected by a changing climate. Budburst brings together researchers, educators, gardeners, and citizen scientists to uncover the stories of plants and animals affected by human impacts on the environment. Become a Budburst Citizen Scientist to report your observations. A project of the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Brown, Heather. 2019. “Why are plants blooming in October?” Features re-blooming lilacs. WCCO-TV News, Minneapolis, MN. Airdate: October 7, 2019.

Nature’s Notebook. Discover and document changes in nature. Become and observer. A project of the USA National Phenology Network.

National Phenology Network, USA. The USA-NPN brings together citizen scientists, government agencies, non-profit groups, educators and students of all ages to monitor the impacts of climate change on plants and animals in the U.S.

Track a Lilac. A project of the USA National Phenology Network. Track a Lilac was a USA National Phenology Network citizen science project that was part of PBS Nature’s American Spring LIVE series, airing on April 29, 30 and May 1, 2019. While the Track a Lilac project has come to a close, we still invite participants to track the phenology of lilacs by signing up for a Nature’s Notebook account and registering a lilac plant! Learn more about how to get started.

Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Works Progress Administration (WPA)

Free-to-watch video, American Experience. Civilian Conservation Corps. Directed by Robert Stone. Length 52:00. In March 1933, within weeks of his inauguration, President Franklin Roosevelt sent legislation to Congress aimed at profiting relief for the one of every four American workers who were unemployed. He proposed a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to provide jobs in natural resource conservation. Over the next decade, the CCC put more than three million young men to work in the nation’s forests, parks, and farms: planting trees, creating flood barriers, fighting fires, and building roads and trails. Corps workers lived in camps under quasi-military discipline and received a wage of $30 per month, $25 of which they were required to send home to their families. Interweaves rich archival imagery with the personal accounts of CCC veterans to tell the story of one of the boldest and most popular New Deal experiments, positioning it as a pivotal moment in the emergence of modern environmentalism and national service.

Living New Deal: Documenting the New Deal Legacy. Lilac Way parks need to be added to their list.

APM documentary: Bridge to Somewhere — Lessons from the New Deal. APM Reports documentary unit tooked a look at the impact of the jobs and public works programs in the 1930s. Produced in 2009 by Catherine Winter with Mary Beth Kirchner and Stephen Smith. 51:24.

FDR Lives website. Historical Reenactor Gary Stamm has performed as Franklin D. Roosevelt for more than 10 years, including four times at the FDR National Historic Site in Hyde Park by invitation from the National Park Service. His website is a fascinating look into the US President who created the WPA, which created Lilac Way.

Hennepin County Library. Minneapolis Gateway and the Great Depression: A View from the Street. Tells story of Carl Warmington, Director of the Homeless Men’s Bureau in Minneapolis’ Gateway District. He also arranged employment for able-bodied men to work part time on the Lilac Way, now known as Highway 100. This provided the men with clothing and transportation to the site and paid wages. Includes photos from James K. Hosmer Special Collections.

James, Kenneth. A Student’s Guide to the Great Depression. Very thorough website guide outlining the timeline and details of the Great Depression, starting with the “Great War”. Thanks to middle schooler Daniel and his teacher Julie Sanders for sharing this excellent resource.

Meshbesher, Samuel. 2019. “The rise and fall of Minneapolis’ Gateway District.” MinnPost, July 1, 2019. Minnesota: MinnPost.

Do you know someone who worked for the WPA in the 1930s-1940s? You can request Works Progress Administration (WPA) Personnel Records from National Archives. These personnel records consist of forms that often detail employees’ project assignments, certification for relief, service initiation and termination, and earnings.

Graeser Park - Robbinsdale, MN

Jeannine McDonald, 2020. Graeser Park Preservation Overview, 2020. This summary shows the incredible amount of cleanup done by Jeannine McDonald. As a Robbinsdale Lion and Graeser Park Beehiver, she took many before/after that illustrate the difference she has made for this historic Lilac Way park. 10.4MB PDF, 32 pages.

Sanders Wacker Bergly, Inc., Landscape Architects and Planners. 2003. Graeser Park. Minnesota Historic Roadside Property and Safety Rest Area Program, Historic Structures Architectural Preservation and Restoration, MnDOT. Prep by Gemini Research, Nov 14, 2003. 3.5MB PDF, 38 pages.

Dombrowsky, Peter W. 1988. Graeser Park: Proposed Hennepin County Library, Robbinsdale Branch. Senior Thesis Project, Landscape Architecture, University of Minnesota.Michele Hagen, Interim Archivist in Research Library of Hennepin History Museum has confirmed in February 2020 that HHM has all of these original files in B94 Parks-Minneapolis and Hennepin County section. 10.3MB PDF, 11 pages.

Mathis, Greg. The 106 Group. 2006. Graeser Park – Minnesota History/Architecture Inventory Form. MN State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). Project: CSAH 81 Hennepin, Robbinsdale, MN. Conclusion: “Graeser Park has lost any National Register eligibility due to modifications to the site and setting.” October 16, 2006. SHPO Inventory #HE-RBC-025. 800KB PDF, 4 pages.

Vilson, Kelly. 2004. “Eagle Scout’s 1999 Graeser Park service project hurt by roadwork.” Sun Newspaper, June 17, 2004.

Deadpioneer’s Historic Minnesota Highways. Lilac Park (Old St Louis Park Roadside Park).

Author unknown. 1941. “Stonecutter gives 55 years of experience: Memorial highway is beautified.” Graeser Park, Minneapolis Morning Tribune, December 16, 1941.

The Living New Deal, livingnewdeal.org. “Graeser Park, – Robbinsdale, MN” Originally submitted by Colleen Patterson, Robbinsdale Lions Club.

St. Louis Park Historical Society. Graeser Park and Graeser Park South.

Author unknown. 1940. “Graeser Park built on site of elevator remains damaged by fire.” Restore Lilac Way’s Karen Laukkonen had to read this three times, it changes everything she knew about how Graeser Park was built. How much of the park’s stonework was from a damaged grain elevator and how much was from the WPA quarry near the Mendota Bridge on the Minnesota River? Minnesota: Robbinsdale Post, October 31, 1940. Transcribed to easy-to-read web format, with original article at bottom of page.

History of Lilac Way

Borchert, John R. “Belt Line Commercial-Industrial Development: A Case Study in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Area.” Borchert.com. (John Robert Borchert, 1918–2001, Dept. of Geography, University of MN.)

Castleman, Monte. 2019. A History of Highway 100 Part One: Overview. streets.mn, June 12, 2019.

Castleman, Monte. 2019. “A History of Minnesota’s Highways Part One.” streets.mn. July 17, 2019.

Castleman, Monte. 2019. “A History of Highway 100 Part Two: The Parks of Lilac Way.” streets.mn, July 17, 2019. (He includes some parks that were not included in the original seven Lilac Way parks.)

Korf, Jamie and McMurtrey, Garrison. 2015. “Highway 100, Then and Now.” Live | Play | AAA Magazine: May/June 2015.

Hardmeyer, Seth. 2014. “The Beehives of Highway 100, Twin Cities.” HighwayHighlights.com, May 14, 2014.

Munsch, Andrew. 2014. Final Surviving Remnants of the Original Lilac Way in St Louis Park.” DeadPioneer.com, September 14, 2014.

Hatler, Carrie. 2014. “Lilac Way: Showcase of the Belt Line.” ForgottenMinnesota.com, Oct. 17, 2014. (Temporarily offline, but indicates she will be launching a new website that will include an archive of Forgotten Minnesota articles as of August 2020.)

Steffel, Nick. 2008. “Minnesota State Highway 100: The “Lilac Way”. James K. Hosmer Special Collections, Hennepin County Library.

Sullivan, Joe. 2008. “Highway 100: Minnesota’s First Freeway Once Known As ‘Beltline’ & ‘Lilac Way’.” City of Edina About Town Magazine, Fall 2008.

St. Louis Park Historical Society. “Highway 100.

St. Louis Park Historical Society. “Highway 100’s Roadside Parks.”

Lilac Park, restored - St. Louis Park, MN

AASHTO. 2003. “Lilac Way Legacy Project Award: Recalling the History of a Bygone Era.” Restored Lilac Park was chosen for a Legacy Award for its place-sensitive design, strong historic and cultural preservation effort and extensive citizen involvement by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials. 135KB PDF, 1 page

MnDOT - Minnesota Department of Transportation

Robert O. Langguth photograph album. Donated to MnDOT by Jim Newland, contains 122 pages of 290 black and white photos of MnDOT crews on road and bridge projects from about 1930-1960. The album belonged to R. O. “Bob” Langguth, who worked at MnDOT from 1930-1969. Amazing photos of early road construction, including MnDOT’s Hopkins office that designed the Lilac Way beehive fireplaces! Photo of Carl Graeser on p. 12. Pages 18-19 show Hopkins office workers.

Miller, Hugh. 1968. “TH 100 Construction in Progress.” Discusses Excelsior Boulevard intersection redesign, but doesn’t mention Excelsior Blvd. Park, which was removed for this construction. MnDOT’s Minnesota Highways, Summer 1968.

Restore Lilac Way has collected many MnDOT Documents in one place—Lilac Way Inventories from 1964 and 1997, Gemini Research reports, and MnDOT reports.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has a Research Services & Library. Here is the search page. (Not sure what is viewable to public.)

Minnesota Reflections. A database of digitized original materials shared by cultural heritage organizations located across Minnesota. Includes images, text, audio, film, etc. The premier project of the Minnesota Digital Library.

National Park Service. 2006. New Deal Roadside Landscape Features: Identifying Significant Themes. Informative outline of MnDOT’s statewide inventory of historic roadside facilities.

National Park Service website. PARKitecture in Western National Parks. Early Twentieth Century Rustic & Design Naturalism. The Gateways section shows photos that resemble Lilac Way entrance signage.

Morris, Michael T.. Thesis (M.A.) University of Wisconsin, River Falls. 1990. “Before the Interstate: The Minnesota Highway Department from 1921 – 1956.”  MnDOT Library.

Newspaper Articles, Transcribed For Easy Reading

“Lilac Way Here Soon.” Minneapolis Journal, Sunday, January 30, 1938. N. W. Elsberg, state highway engineer, announced the road from Fort Snelling-Shakopee highway on the south to Robbinsdale on the north will be finished by late spring, except for surfacing, improvements and one contemplated clover leaf road separation.

“Splendid Highway Will be Opened Next Spring.” Hennepin County Review, December 16, 1937. Describes cloverleaf intersections, managing traffic from Minneapolis, WPA, payments of workers.

Rock Island (north end of original Lilac Park, Minnetonka Blvd.)

City of St. Louis Park Study Session, Nov. 19, 2012. Title: Highway 100 Reconstruction Update. PDF, 7 pages. POLICY CONSIDERATION: Staff seeks Council input and feedback on what involvement, if any, should the City consider in preserving the Rock Garden. Outlines features/remains. Includes a two-page Attachment with background and recommendations from Rick Birno, who oversaw the restored Lilac Park project.

Videos and Video Transcripts

Watch TPT’s Highway 100 – Lilac Way documentary film. The show that inspired the launch of restorelilacway.com in 2008. Examines one of Minnesota’s most historic stretches of roadway, capturing the history of Depression-era landmarks along one of the first highways in the Twin Cities.

Read a transcript of TPT’s Highway 100 – Lilac Way documentary. One cold Minnesota winter, Karen transcribed TPT’s Highway 100: Lilac Way 2001 film. Totally worth it, now it’s searchable. Or, you can watch the film.

Restore Lilac Way’s featured videos page. Lots of cool stuff—360° walk around Graeser Park’s beehive, CCX News stories, the Lions Club’s hard work. Or watch a video of the SLP beehive fireplace moving to its new location in 2008.

Restore Lilac Way’s YouTube channel. Tons of cool stuff.

Restore Lilac Way’s Graeser Park YouTube playlist. All Graeser Park, all the time. This 1939 Depression-era park in Robbinsdale, MN is just waiting to be restored.

Restore Lilac Way’s Rock Island YouTube playlist. Cool tours of this hidden Lilac Way park in St. Louis Park, MN.

Dowling, Joanna. “Along The Way: Midwest Waysides and Rest Stops” Lecture with Joanna Dowling”. Lilac Way is featured at 9:00, but watch the entire video. Really well done. Join Illinois historian Joanna Dowling for a trip through the Midwest via some of the region’s lesser-recognized roadside rest stops and waysides. Learn about the past and present of the non-commercial places to stop along the heartland’s highways including Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and a few other remote spots. Length: 39:40.

Ross, Jenna. 10.7.2008. Picking up pieces of past from area roads, highways: A stone fireplace—built on what was called Lilac Way but is now known as Hwy. 100—will get a new home in St. Louis Park.. Star Tribune.

St. Louis Park Historical Society, slphistory.org. History of Highway 100.

St. Louis Park Historical Society, slphistory.org. Highway 100 Roadside Parks.