Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Minneapolis Bronze Statues

Yesterday, I went cycling with my friend, Dave, as we do every week in the warmer months. Sometimes we cycle a loop, sometimes we pick a theme, sometimes we meander. On Dave's suggestion we went in search of Minneapolis bronze statues.

We met next to the baseball park at Target Field light rail station. Dave loves baseball, so our first task was to search among the statues surrounding the stadium for local hero, Harmon Killebrew. 
Harmon Killebrew.
Killebrew was "one of the most feared sluggers" of the 1960's with a pristine reputation on and off the field. Beyond that, the details get fuzzy for me. I know the name because early in my career I worked in an office on Killebrew Drive near the old ball park.

"Hennepin" is another recurring local name. Hennepin Avenue runs through the heart of Minneapolis, and the city is the county seat for Hennepin County. We found a statue of Father Hennepin outside the Basilica, a large, ornate Catholic church. (See photo at the top of this post.)

In 1680, Father Hennepin, a missionary and explorer, was captured by Sioux and taken by canoe to what is now Minnesota. Eventually he returned to his home in France, and waxed somewhat over-lyrically about what is now St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis, the only waterfall on the Mississippi. This week, we move to a condo with a view of the falls in the distance.

Our bicycles took us through the recently redesigned Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, past a sculpture at Westminster Church, and to a tourist information office. We peered through the window of the tourist office at Mary Tyler Moore, eternally throwing her tam in the air.

Outside Minneapolis City Hall we stopped to pay our respects to Hubert Humphrey. As mayor of Minneapolis he pushed back on the antisemitism and institutional racism of 1940's Minneapolis. He then served as a US Senator, and was Vice-President in the Lyndon Johnson administration.
Hubert Humphrey.
In a part of town which has housed successive waves of immigrants, we stopped at a statue of Emiliano Zapata, one of the leaders of the Mexican Revolution. The working class hero never came to Minneapolis, but this part of the city is home to many immigrants from Mexico, particularly Zapata's home state, Morelos.
Emiliano Zapata.
We ended our ride at Minnehaha Park at a statue of Hiawatha carrying his love, Minnehaha.
The Song of Hiawatha was immediately a best-seller when if was published by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1855. There was a huge market for a romanticized view of native Americans, even as they were the target of ethnic cleansing.

Longfellow never did visit Minneapolis, but he had read about a waterfall in what is now Minnehaha Park. The bronze was installed in its present location in 1912. The faces are not particularly native American: apparently the sculptor, a Norwegian immigrant, had difficulty finding native Americans to model for him.

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