The public was invited to join in the groundbreaking celebration for the new playground at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park on May 6.
According to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, “The playground will be the first in the state of Minnesota to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Civil Rights Movement and African-American history. In collaboration with four local African-American artists and design consultants, the neighborhood and its stakeholders have designed a park that will inspire children, their parents, fellow neighbors and friends of the community.
“Main elements of the new playground include:
*Interpretive panels with historical information and QR code links to the African-American Registry website
*A climbing structure replicating the Edmund Pettus Bridge
*A climbable mountaintop
*An educational staircase illustrating authors of African heritage
*A flag from the Red Hand Division WWI African-American regiment
*Themed children’s play to highlight African-American inventors, including our own Minnesotan, Frederick McKinley Jones.”
The old playground has been completely removed and the grounds are being prepared for the new installation.
There will be:
Children’s Amphitheater & Stage: A small raised stage faces a shaped hillside amphitheater for kids to present speeches or for educational purposes (school field trips, summer programs, etc.).
Lower Level Playground Entrance: A small concrete plaza and seat wall create an entrance gathering area prior to the staircase leading up to the playground. At the base of the staircase is the Rev. Dr. Martin King Jr. quote, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase” (if approved by the King Center). Colorful peace poles designed by local community kids “Welcome All” in numerous languages behind the entry plaza seat wall.
Preschool & Swing Container: New preschool playground container built at the same level as the existing playground
Elementary Container: New preschool playground container.
Seating: A small plaza space allows room for benches or game tables with an overhead signage structure and is aligned as a focal point from Nicollet Avenue. Various seating opportunities can include table tops with images and educational information, seats to reflect bus seats for Rosa Parks’ contributions, and even some fitness events to encourage physical activity for all.
Upper Level Playground Entrance: The main focal point of the walkway is the seating plaza and overhead signage. Colorful plantings are placed around the peace poles designed by local community kids that “Welcome All” in numerous languages. At the entrance into the playground is a quote in the pavement followed by the symbol of Unity in Diversity surrounded by images of kids holding hands encircling it.
Peace Stones: Stepping stones in the hillside contain quotes as you progress up the hill to the Freedom Form #2 sculpture.
Trail Modifications: Alterations in the trail alignments and grades allow for better accessibility to the playground from the upper and lower levels of the site.