Mill Ruins Park

Designers: URS Corporation, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), MacDonald & Mack Architects | City: Minneapolis, MN | Project Type: historic preservation, historic parks, ruins, riverfront
Date Visited: 10.11.12

Location: 103 Portland Ave S Minneapolis, MN 55401
Official Opening Date: October 1, 2001

Mill Ruins Park is considered the “centerpiece of the revitalization of Minneapolis’ historic West Side Milling District,” an area that once held the largest collection of water-powered mills in the world.


Located on the west bank of the Mississippi River, Mill Ruins Park was carved out of the crumbling foundations left over by the once-booming mills and canals that drew on the power of the St. Anthony Falls. Pedestrian walkways were carefully placed around the park for minimum site disturbance, while still giving visitors an immersive experience as they explore the old ruins.

To get a sense of how historically important Mill Ruins Park is, consider this: Minneapolis was once known as the “Flour Milling Capital of the World,” so much so, that the city earned the nickname “Mill City.” Starting in the 1930s, however, water-powered flour mills became obsolete after the introduction of fossil fuels. By the 1960s, the once-mighty mills ceased production, fell into disrepair, or were demolished. Mill Ruins Park celebrates the history of these 19th-century mills.

Biking around Minneapolis–it’s the best way to get around the city with its many miles of bicycle lanes–you’ll still see a number of flour signs such as Gold Medal Flour and Pillsbury’s Best Flour. And though the park itself may be small, it is still interesting and reflects well on the city for making the decision to retain and display these reminders of the past.

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