Lilac Way was a historic section of Highway 100, located west of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Just 12.5 miles, it was built in 1934-41 as one of FDR’s Works Project Administration (WPA) projects during the Great Depression.

It had seven roadside parks with ‘beehive’ fireplaces, stone picnic tables and rustic landscaping.

Today, only two parks remain, and a section of a third. Robbinsdale’s Graeser Park was beautifully restored to historic standards by MnDOT from 2021-23.

Roadside Park near Highway 7 in St. Louis Park was renewed and renamed Lilac Park.

Rock Island Park in St. Louis Park is all that remains of the old Lilac Park near Minnetonka Boulevard, and is now owned by the city of St. Louis Park.

The Minnesota Department of Highways built a 66-mile ‘Belt Line’ loop around the Twin Cities, completed in 1950.

It played a key role in the post-World War II economic development and growth pattern of the Twin Cities.

***The map below is under review, it may be revised to differentiate

  • The original Highway 100, which was built between 1934 and 1941 along 12.5 miles between Highway 5 (78th Street) in Edina and Highway 52 (now Highway 81) in Robbinsdale;
  • The present Highway 100, which runs from I-494 to I-694; or
  • The “Belt Line,” which was a precursor to the present 494/694 circle around the Twin Cities. This Belt Line, of which the Original and Present Highways 100 were a part of, existed from 1950 to 1965.

Lilac Way was the ‘showcase’ section of the Belt Line.

This 12.5 mile stretch of Highway 100 was lined with thousands of lilac bushes and seven roadside parks.

It is located between Highway 52 (now 81) in Robbinsdale and Highway 5 (78th Street) in Edina, MN.

The story behind Lilac Way

The seven roadside parks
Built during the Great Depression
Employing men on Lilac Way