Monday, May 26, 2014

1910 postcard featuring lily pond at Como Park (Saint Paul, Minnesota)

This interestingly colored postcard, which was postmarked in September 1910 in Chicago, Illinois, features the lily pond at Como Park in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, located across more than 750 acres, was created in 1873 and now features a zoo, a conservatory, an amusement park, a carousel, Lake Como, a golf course and a pool, among other attractions.

Here is some information regarding the park's origins from the history page of Como Park's website:
"Como Park’s history dates long before the Como Park Conservatory was constructed. In the 1840s, Charles Perry owned, grew potatoes and farmed the land around Lake Como, which at the time was named after Perry’s birthplace in the Swiss-Italian Alps, Sandy Lake. Eventually Perry moved north. A gentleman by the name of Henry 'King of Real Estate Dealers' McKenty, jumped at the opportunity to purchase the land from Perry and renamed it Como Lake after the famous Lake Como in the Italian Alps.

"At this time the Minnesota’s Legislature appointed five commissioners, 'whose duty it should be to contract for and purchase not less than five hundred, not more than six hundred and fifty, acres of land within a convenient distance of the city of Saint Paul, but beyond the present limits thereof, for a public park.'

"The idea of a public park soon became a controversial issue. Many leaders feared that the city would not be able to financially support such an ambitious park project at a time of depression. Others questioned whether such valuable land should be 'wasted' on a park.

"Professor H.W.S. Cleveland, a renowned landscape architect, urged Saint Paul and other cities to set aside land for parks before land became scarce and too expensive. In 1873, three hundred acres of land on the shores of Como Lake was purchased with $100,000 of private money."

According to Wikipedia, the lily pond shown in this postcard was "originally built in 1895 and known as the Aquarium. [It] featured exotic lily pads. While the lily pads returned to Como Park at the conservatory in 2005, the original pond has been dry and unused for some time."

Other historic structures or elements of the park include an abandoned concrete pedestrian bridge over former street car tracks, a comfort station with "prairie style restrooms" that was opened in 1917 and renovated in 1998, a granite frog within a frog pond, a bust of Henrik Ibsen, and a Submariner's Memorial (pictured at right) dedicated to the lost crew of the World War II USS Swordfish.

This postcard was addressed to Jacob Shuey of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and has the following message:
"Chicago. Sep-20-10
Arrived here at 930 this morn. Will leave here for Pittsburg Penn. this P.M. at 315 but will hardly get home before the early part of next wk. Hope Grandma is not suffering yet. Will you please tell Goldie Wolf [?] if she has no more money for flowers that you can help her out with the last deal [?] — & oblige me love to Mother & Father & Addison. Mrs. Parker."

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