Encompassing 759 acres, this municipal park west of downtown is the largest in the Minneapolis park system. Established in 1889, the initial 64-acre open space was called Glenwood from 1890 until 1938, when it was renamed in honor of Superintendent Theodore Wirth. The park was enlarged by 500 acres to the northwest, stretching into Golden Valley and including Keegan’s (now Wirth) Lake, in 1908. Further piecemeal expansion continued through the 1950s.
Although the first parkway was laid out in 1890 as a link in the Grand Rounds system, the present picturesque parkway, winding through wetlands and prairie dotted with mature oak trees, was built in 1910 according to Wirth’s designs. Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary was established in 1907, across from the five-acre Quaking Bog. Bridle paths were laid out in 1912, and Charles Loring built an artificial, 40-foot cascade against Wirth Lake in 1917. A 9-hole public golf course consisting of sand greens and clay tees was constructed in 1916, enlarged by nine holes in 1919. The Swiss Chalet-style club house, suggested by Wirth, was built in 1922. Between 1933 and 1935, Civilian Conservation Corps laborers seeded the golf course’s greens with grass and shaped parts of Bassett’s Creek into ponds. A second golf course was added in 1962 and a portion of the original course redesigned in 1968. Today the park contains 280 acres of golf course, 83 acres of water, an urban forest, a beach, hiking trails, a playground, a fishing pier, and athletic facilities.