The Story Behind Lincoln Park’s Pocket Park

A Small Park With A Big Message

With all of the activity swirling through Lincoln Park these days, it’s easy to take the neighborhood’s new-found identity for granted. It almost seems like the new energy in Duluth’s Craft Business District is something that has always been there. It’s an authentic vibe that almost feels historic… like it’s always been that way. And while the neighborhood has certainly been home to craft businesses for decades, it’s only recently that the community has taken a strategic approach to developing its new identity.

Take the pocket park on the corner of West Superior Street and 19th Avenue West, for example.

Back in 2016 the park wasn’t much to look at and was sometimes a part of the neighborhood to avoid. There was no stage. The benches has wooden slats that would give your backside slivers. The park’s trees had become overgrown through years of neglect and by taking over the park, the trees provided a haven for illicit activity. Not a good scene.

Then the community rallied. Things were happening in Lincoln Park and people wanted to see the park brought back as a usable space.

lincoln park pocket park 2017

Work underway at the pocket park in 2017. Image: Ecolibrium3.

As neighborhood development strategies were being discussed, The Lincoln Park Business Group secured both a grant and private donations from Frost River, Bent Paddle Brewing Company, and The Duluth Grill to improve this park. Ecolibrium3 – the neighborhood nonprofit focused on community development – sent out a survey to neighborhood residents and business owners to find out what they’d like to see done with the space.

The number one thing people wanted was public art (followed by better lighting and recycle bins in case you’re interested). One surprise was that people also wrote in that they wanted a stage for music – something that wasn’t on the original survey. The Lincoln Park Business Group decided to follow the advice of the neighborhood residents.

Local artist Ann Klefstad painted a fantastic mural on the walls surrounding the park to represent the various wildlife species that you you might see right here in the city. The stage was added with a backdrop designed by Kirsten Aune. Cement benches (with tiling by Aune as well) and a Tori arch (wooden structure at the corner), built by artist John Finkle, were installed. The park’s surviving ash trees were pruned and treated for emerald ash borer, and picnic tables made locally from recycled plastic milk bottles by Loll Designs were installed.

lincoln park pocket park

Now this little pocket park is a fun destination – we love stopping by during our Lincoln Park Walking Tour! Image: The Duluth Experience.

The park is now a truly usable space with a welcoming, safe atmosphere that represents the revitalization and beautification that has made its way to Lincoln Park. The energy continues to craft ideas and action focused on crafting a strong community. We love spending time in Lincoln Park and we hope you’ll take a trip down to Duluth’s Craft District to visit the pocket park and experience it for yourself.

Join us for the Lincoln Park Craft District Walking Tour this summer and connect with the amazing energy buzzing around this exciting neighborhood!

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