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“The Glen” at Garfield Park in Duluth

This 1897 issue of Duluth’s Labor World shows the waterfall and cauldron of “the Glen” in Chester Park. From 1894 to 1902 the area was named Garfield Park.

Nancy S. Nelson and Tony Dierckins cover the subject in the book Duluth’s Historic Parks: Their First 160 Years and also in the online history of the park on zenithcity.com.

By September 1891, the park board had acquired most of the land needed for the park; it controlled about 125 acres from Fifth Street to the parkway between Thirteenth Avenue East and Fifteenth Avenue East. Negotiations for the land that fronted on Fourth Street dragged on for many years, and squatters frequently took over the area that the park board wanted for the entrance to the park. It wasn’t until 1908 that negotiations were finally completed for purchasing the last of the property required for the main entrance to Chester Park.

The board gave no explanation of why it officially named this public greenspace “Garfield Park” in 1894, but, as explained in the Lincoln Park page, it was likely in honor of President James Garfield, who had been assassinated in 1881. Whatever the reason, Duluthians who lived near the park did not like the name. In 1902, a group of local residents successfully petitioned the park board to change the name to Chester Park, and the board never again tried to alter it.

Above is a modern-day shot from the same location, below the pedestrian bridge in the vicinity of North 17th Avenue East.

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