Born and raised in Maine, businessman and entrepreneur Loring relocated his family from Portland to Minneapolis in 1860. Loring’s investments in Minneapolis made him a popular and influential figure in the city; he was the owner of three flour mills, founder of the Soo Line Railroad, and developer of residential neighborhoods.
In 1883 he was elected President of the newly-formed Minneapolis Board of Park Commissioners and served for seven years. Known as the “Father of the Minneapolis Parks,” Loring worked to implement and expand upon Horace Cleveland’s vision for an interconnected park system organized around the city’s lakes and creeks. He tapped his business connections and was able to secure property for the city through private donations that would eventually become the Chain of Lakes and Minnehaha Creek sections of parkland. Through his personal donations he funded the development of Minneapolis park amenities and the creation of an endowment to care for trees on Victory Memorial Parkway, dedicated to the memory of World War I soldiers.
Loring’s influence also extended beyond Minneapolis. He traveled throughout Minnesota to encourage communities to plant trees and set aside land for public enjoyment. He developed parks in Riverside, California, where he spent his summers, and was an early proponent of playground equipment in public space. In 1898 he was elected President of the American Park and Outdoor Art Association.