Hall’s Island. Not an Island. Ok, an Island Again

I first visited Hall’s Island first before it was and island, for the 2nd time. To me it was a big parcel of land that Wilco played at a couple years ago.

Wilco Tweet

Tweet about Wilco show at Hall’s Island

Why was it an island over 50 years ago, why not in 2016, and why again today?

A brief history. The first known survey of the island was in 1895 of the Mississippi River through Minneapolis. It operated as a bath house for a couple decades, and eventually sold to Scherer Bros Lumber Co in 1963. Soon after, they dredged the island to expand their mill operations.

In 2010, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) took it over. Thanks to the board, they excavated the channel just earlier this year to recreate the island. A few geese already call the back channel home along with future expectations including turtles, fish and mussels.

Geese Halls Island

Geese at Hall’s Island Back Channel

Once I heard of the dredging for the upcoming island (again) last October, I took a 360 degree photo of the whole area still without the island. It was a LOT of open space.


Soon after, my next thought was this is all just fine as long as they don’t churn the land into more condos or commercial waterfront properties. An article frightened me just a bit just by mentioning the word “developers”, but they’re at least initially focusing on natural surroundings.

Halls Island Bridge

Hall’s Island from the Plymouth Av Bridge

There are plenty options of visiting here for bicyclists, peds and rollers. This, like Boom Island sits right off Plymouth Ave N. with bike lanes already in place. There are trails coming from all over including N. Minneapolis, St. Anthony Main and other well-used and maintained trails, or essentially the same ways you would get to Boom Island Park.

Boom Island Park

Boom Island Park, across Plymouth Av from Hall’s Island

These are all steps to a larger MPRB project to turn this once Scherer Brothers Lumber Company and industrialized area into a public park to be complete with a gravel beach, what I like to call a public oasis, ecological benefits and even two pedestrian bridges crossing the channel to the island.

According to the RiverFirst Initiative, the Grand Opening for this isn’t until 2022, but it’s nice that the heavy lifting, dredging and excavating is now complete. It’ll take time for the habitat restoration to naturally grow and then fully appreciate this new clean project from the public, to the public.

5 thoughts on “Hall’s Island. Not an Island. Ok, an Island Again

  1. Frank Phelan

    Dredge: clean out the bed of (a harbor, river, or other area of water) by scooping out mud, weeds, and rubbish with a dredge.

    What do you mean “Soon after, they dredged the island…”? Did they fill in the channel so it was no longer an island?

    1. Paul JahnPaul Jahn Post author

      Indeed. Scherer Bros Lumber co. filled in the channel in 1963-ish to increase lumber operations. I want to say it had something to do with what they called deadheading for a period before that, but I could be wwaaaayyyy off on that.

  2. Parker

    Last year, the Park Board sent out an RFQ for development proposals for “Parcel D” on the northern side of the park: https://www.minneapolisparks.org/park_care__improvements/park_projects/current_projects/scherer_bros_site_-_parcel_d_development/

    It was kind of interesting – rather than selling the land, they wanted to do a long-term ground lease and use the ongoing revenue from the ground lease to pay for a portion of park operations. I’m not aware of any other similar funding schemes. Unfortunately, they did not get any responses from developers and pulled the Parcel D plan back to regroup. I’m interested to see what they decide to do with it.

    Before the RFQ, they had something lined up for it with a new Graco office (they control like 5 adjacent square blocks), but the Park Board turned it down.

    1. Andrew Evans

      It’s only a matter of time before the city and park board force Graco out, in favor of a thin river front path/street and luxury apartments. They are already working on getting the industry out (and having some success) on the other side of the river.

  3. Andrew Evans

    Thanks for the article! I always thought this strip of land had to do with interstate 635, and didn’t know it was due to industry.

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