This 1935 ‘Hennepin County Approves Lilac Way Plan’ article announces Hennepin County’s approval to create Lilac Way, including support from 40 civic and business groups representing more than 50,000 citizens.

Browse or search the story in easy-to-read, online-friendly text. See the original article as it appeared in the newspaper. Thanks to Kristi Gibson and Hennepin County Library for finding this resource. Transcribed in September, 2021 by Restore Lilac Way with original punctuation and structure.

Minneapolis Journal  |  July 30, 1935

Hennepin County Approves Lilac Way Plan

Mayor and commissioners favor project – representatives of 50,000 civic group members issue statements asking for highway beautification

Minneapolis wants the Lilac Way. Representatives of thousands of its citizens said so today.

“It will give the city a highway that will not only be a source of pleasure to our citizens but will make the city attractive to our visitors,” Mayor Thomas E. Latimer said in expressing his satisfaction that the highway department of the state is to undertake the beautification program.

County Board Approves

In a resolution unanimously approving the project commissioners of Hennepin county today expressed their satisfaction over the action of the state highway department and deciding to make the belt line a Lilac Way. The road has long had the support of the commissioners as an important rural Hennepin highway and they believe beautification will make the road famous in America.

“The suggestion of the Journal is certainly a fine one,” W. W. Heffelfinger, chairman of the county board said. “I personally urge Commissioner Elsberg to go ahead with the lilac route because I believe such a development will be a great advertising medium for Hennepin County and Minneapolis and, just as important, will give pleasure to thousands of our citizens. The belt line has been a hobby with the county board for a number of years. I hope Commissioner Elsberg will endeavor to have this road open for travel not later than than August, 1936. The anticipated traffic on this road justifies an even earlier completion date if possible.“

12 Miles of Lilacs

“Just wonderful,“ is the way Mrs. Horace Newhart, chairman of the highway beautification committee of the Women’s Club, one of the largest women’s organizations of the city, expressed her idea of the suggestion.

The suggestion of the Journal was that the new belt line road from Robbinsdale south 12 miles to the Fort Snelling-Shakopee road be made a Lilac Way by proper planting of lilacs in the landscaping plan. Commissioner N. W. Elsberg of the highway department, in considering the suggestion, said that department would undertake the beautification if sentiment in the community favored the undertaking.

Officials of more than 40 civic and business groups today voiced their approval of the suggestion and urged that it be carried out as planned. It is estimated these clubs and groups represent more than 50,000 citizens.

In his statement, Mayor Latimer said: “it seems to me the proposed beautification of the belt line highway by the highway department is an excellent idea because it will give the city a highway that will not only be a source of pleasure to our own citizens, but will make the city attractive to visitors.

“Lilacs are a particularly beautiful flowering shrub, and being hardy, lend themselves nicely to roadside beautification. Their fragrance will add to the attractiveness of the highway.

“The highway itself is to be an important addition to the roads leading into the city and will greatly facilitate safe travel. The state highway department is looking ahead in its program of beautifying roads as well as building them, and I feel the next generation will hold it greatly to the credit of the present generation that his beautification work is being done.”

Predict Famed Road

Comment of officials and of the many others was that Lilac Way had possibilities of becoming one of the famous highways of America, rivaling the Cherry Tree Drive in Washington and the Apple Ways of Virginia. “I think that idea a fine one,“ Dr. Andrew Boss of University Farm said, in referring to the Lilac Way. “I am indeed glad to know that this important highway is to be thus beautified. I think that within a few years Lilac Way will be famous throughout the country if properly looked after.“

H. A. Morse, commissioner for rural Hennepin county, said “the people of rural Hennepin are particularly pleased over the prospect for this fine highway beautified as it is going to be, and it has our support. The Journal is to be congratulated on the suggestion. The completed highway will be a source of great pleasure to all the people.”

Board Issues Resolution

The resolution adopted unanimously by the county board of commissioners read:

“The board of county commissioners is pleased to hear that the state highway department is considering the suggestion for beautifying the belt line, just west of the city limits, by making it a Lilac Way. The board urges State Highway Engineer Elsberg to make this suggested improvement, first, because it is practical and will be a drawing power and selling argument to visitors and a treat to the beauty loving people of Minneapolis; secondly, because the board of county commissioners have invested $123,154 in buying the 200 foot right of way for this belt line roadway.

“The county commissioners have been of the opinion for some time that a forestry project of some kind should be started to beautify this right away, but after considering this Lilac Way suggestion they are of the opinion that it is a logical thing to do; that is preferable to the original idea of planting trees; and that it will prove to be by far a most preferable improvement for one of Minneapolis’ most important highways.”

Officials of civic and business organizations of the city today said:

C. T. Naugle, managing director, Associated General Contractors of Minnesota
The proposal to beautify the new belt line road is another forward step in the development of the Metropolitan area and as such should have the enthusiastic support of all Minneapolitans who believe Minneapolis a real city of beauty.

Henry G. Benton, secretary Minneapolis Real Estate Board
This is indeed a wonderful project, something I have always hoped Minneapolis might have. The idea of beautification the (hard to read) way beautification effort with improvement of the main gateway to the city is what makes the suggestion particularly valuable. I predict the Lilac Way will be come a great asset to the city.

Elsa Steinmetz, president Women’s Advertising Cub of Minneapolis
Minneapolis has already an international reputation as one of the beautiful cities of the world and the proposed Lilac Way will further enhance that reputation.

Robert T. Jones, president Minneapolis Chapter American Institute of Architects
Architects are heartily in accord with the beautification plan for the belt line highway because they believe county and regional planning should go hand-in-hand with city planning.

Mike Holm, president American Institute of Swedish Arts and Minnesota secretary of state
The plan of the state highway department to beautify this new belt line highway is highly meritorious and will prove a great source of happiness and pleasure to the people.

Clarence A. Gunn, secretary Minneapolis Builders Exchange
Congratulations to the state highway department for its foresight in beautifying this new road. Each year the project will bring greater pleasure to our visitors and our own citizens. Foreign countries have followed the plan of roadside beautification many years. I hope the plan started on the belt line will be enlarged to cover other sections of our state highway system.

B. N. Bell, president Twin City Council of Building and Loan Associations
The plan as suggested by The Journal should meet with the approval of all believers in Minneapolis as America’s most beautiful city. The Belt Line will be a source of much satisfaction with the passing years.

C. B. Rogers, chairman committee on public relations, Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce
The beautification plan as announced in the Journal appears to warrant wide spread approval of all citizens who are interested in the development of the Twin City region.

George E. Stroh, district adjutant American Legion, Minneapolis
Making the new belt line highway west of Minneapolis into an outstanding drive by the planting of lilacs on each side will leave a most pronounced impression on visitors to Minneapolis. It will be a commercial as well as a community asset and should receive the approval of all.

Floyd Hooper, president Advertising Club of Minneapolis
Minneapolis should receive much favorable national publicity from this splendid new project development. It is a fine project.

Harlan K Nygaard, president Minneapolis Junior Association of Commerce
Minneapolis is already widely known as a city of lakes, gardens and boulevards and it appears this beautification project is an extension of the Minneapolis plan to the region outside our city limits.

Hugh M. Craig, secretary Automobile Club, Minneapolis
The state highway department is taking a much-needed forward step by planning to beautify the new belt line highway. This development will add to the beauty of our city and will serve as an additional reason for our thousands of Minnesota visitors to see Minneapolis and its beauty spots. Minnesota should lead other states in the development of roadways as arteries of beauty as well as service.

A. N. Benson, secretary Twin City Automobile Dealers Association
The landscaping of the new highway is a fine forward step in the highway development of the state of Minnesota and will add greatly to the pleasure of driving. As I look ahead I can see where Lilac Way will be a wonderfully attractive feature for our city.

Dr. Wesley Buck, president Exchange Club, Minneapolis
It is entirely fitting that the approach to Minneapolis be in keeping with the beauties of the city itself. I believe that by beautifying the new belt line more visitors will want to see Minneapolis.

Clarence Decker, president Minneapolis Men’s Association
The selection of lilacs for the new Belt Line highway is excellent and will undoubtedly lead to much favorable publicity for Minnesota as well as for Minneapolis.

Henry H. Bank, vice-president Minneapolis Lodge No. 271 B’Nai Brith
If the plans are carried to completion, Minnesota will have one of the most perfect highways, from every standpoint, and the country.

Miss Katherine Wallace, president Business Women’s Club, Minneapolis
The beautification of our highways is money well spent and such an excellent plan as the one proposed will meet with the approval of all nature lovers.

Mrs. C. Ben Bromback, president Minneapolis League of Catholic Women
The Minneapolis League of Catholid Women believe in any measure which has for its purpose the beautification of Minneapolis and its surrounding territory. A Lilac Wy will be a distinct contribution to the many beauties of the city.

Harold N. Falk, chairman Council of Civic Clubs
The service clubs of the city are dedicated to the betterment of our city and its surrounding territory and I know of no project which could enhance the beauty of our neighborhood more than this plan to plant lilacs along the new belt line highway. It is building for the future and as such should have the hardy support of our citizens.

R. P. Lee, President Loring Commercial Club
Lilacs will provide a background of real beauty for this fine new highway and will drive visitors to Minneapolis. The state highway department is to be congratulated upon plans which will add immeasurably to the pleasure of driving this new road.

Ralph M. Beckwith, president Kiwanis Club
The plan as announced has every indication of being extremely worthwhile and will result in much favorable publicity for Minneapolis.

Walter Quist, member Board of Park Commissioners and president West Broadway Civic Club
We in North Minneapolis are impressed with the plans for making a Lilac Way along the new belt line road and have been happy to learn of what the state highway department is to do. This is going to be a particularly heavy traffic road and thousands will traverse it. It winds through a fine rolling country which will make the lilacs very attractive as they grow on the roadsides. I am satisfied Minneapolis people will get much pleasure out of lilac way.

Mrs. Josephine Bailey, vice-president Housewives League
I think the suggestion is wonderful and the carrying out of the idea by the highway department is about the finest thing it could do. I have traveled a great deal and particularly in California I have found the roadside beautification development very lovely. I have wondered why this has not been done in Minnesota before and I am much pleased that this important new highway is to be made into a Lilac Way.

W. C. McFarlane, president Manufacturers Association
A very good idea and it will add to our “city beautiful.“ I feel certain that if the project is completed it will become one of our community assets, adding much to the beauty of our parks and drives and helping to bring many visitors to the city.

H. J. Weeks, executive secretary Minnesota Hotel Association
No doubt but this beautified highway will add to the attractive features of the city and help us entertain visitors who come for pleasure and sightseeing. The number of such people is constantly increasing and a beautiful and unusual drive such as this will become a factor in encouraging them to come.

John C. Sheehan, secretary Centre Improvement Association
This is a fine thing and we ought to have had it before. All the people like nice drives and I predict that when this Lilac Way is finished the problem will be to keep the cars from blocking the road. It is a good thing the road is to have six lanes.

I. S. Joseph, president Jewish Welfare Association
I am very favorably impressed with the idea of the Lilac Way and believe it will benefit all the people. It will certainly be a fine monument to our city. If the project can be completed as I understand it is going to be, it will without doubt become known all over the country and many people will come here during lilac time just to drive along our Lilac Way.

J. H. Baker, executive secretary Hennepin County Medical Society
I think this beautified road will appeal to all travelers and will be an attraction in which all will take pride. The highway itself with its wide travel lanes and other modern improvements will contribute a great deal also to safety of travel.

E. T. Field, president Optimist Club
This idea appeals to me. Lilacs bloom early in the spring so our Lilac Way will be the first highway to attract travelers. Another good feature about using lilacs for the flowering shrub is that Lilac Way can be ready in a comparatively short time.

Dr. H. A. Thorson, president Council of Parents-Teachers Association
The idea struck me as worthwhile as soon as I read of it in the Journal. It will attract attention to the city. It is a mighty fine thing.

John H. Jepsen, president Board of Park Commissioners
I am enthusiastic over this suggestion and believe it will be a fine thing for the city. It will in reality add to our park system and be one more factor to help call attention to our drives and boulevards.

Dr. F. J. Pratt, president Minneapolis Professional Men’s Club
This will be a very fine thing. I am favorably impressed with it and believe it will be of much pleasure and benefit not only to the city but to the state.

Joseph Chapman, president Hennepin County Good Roads Association
The west Minneapolis belt line road was conceived by Orville E. Johnson, more than 10 years secretary and manager of the Hennepin County Good Roads Association. It seems to me that no more fitting tribute could be paid to Mr. Johnson for his untiring efforts in developing our road system then to have the road beautified by planting lilacs on the slopes. Too often our roads are merely gashes through what otherwise might be a beautiful countryside. The federal government has recognized the need and advisability of beautifying our highways and has provided that in the highway construction program not less than 1% shall be spent for landscaping and beautification of road side. I believe that a portion of the amount allocated to Minnesota could very well be spent in landscaping and planting the belt line road.

Maurice Salisbury, president Rotary Club
A beautiful road entering the city is a distinct asset and the plan suggested and approved assures that the road will indeed be a beautiful road. It is a fine idea.

M. A. Buehler, president Hennepin County Library Sportsmen’s Club
I would like to see all the roads beautified and I’m glad to learn of the start on this one. Lilac Way will become, I am sure, a famous highway and will bring many people to Minneapolis. We can make something out of it.

Paul E. Dickensheetscommander American Legion, Minneapolis
The project with proper arrangements for its upkeep, will be an outstanding attraction to the city. Th beautifying of our highways in general is a very worthwhile idea and this proposed development should certainly receive great popular approval.