“This is Paradise,” Pierre Bottineau exclaimed, he took a look at the beautiful prairie and woods before him. Pierre was a man that was traveling through the area from North Dakota, and he was one of the first people besides the Native Americans to visit the location of Brooklyn Township.
After he had visited and made his reports of the land, a few settlers came to make residence within the beautiful place that would become Brooklyn Park. They established their own small community that grew along with the Maple Grove community. Making use of the resources of the neighboring Maple Grove area, which mostly consisted of wood from the forests, the locals were able to make their own homes. Tensions were sometimes tight between the Indians and the settlers, but Pierre was always able to act as a peacemaker.
The area that is known today as Brooklyn Park, Minnesota was originally owned by the government, and was not made public for residential use until after the treaty with the Dakota Indians had been set in place. This treaty allowed settlers to make their homes in the land that once belong to the Native Americans. In the year of 1852, families became to settle the location and a small town community began.
Brooklyn Park was initially a part of the Brooklyn Township. The area was mainly agricultural. People made their living off of what they could grow. Most of the development in the area was a result from the growth of Minneapolis. This growth caused additional residents to seek more private areas to live, therefore, it caused places like Brooklyn Township to be residentially developed. Each of the pioneers were allowed to have five acres of land total. President Lincoln created a program where if the owners homesteaded the land for more than five years, they received the five acres for free. Because of this amazing opportunity, settlers came from all over to farm the land, and the development of the township began to flourish.
During the winter months when there wasn’t enough farming to be done, the men of the township found work in the local pine forest by cutting down and chopping up trees for wood. This allowed for the settlers to provide for their families year-round. The logs were shipped out to Minneapolis as soon as the rivers thawed out, and then the men would return to farming. During the Civil War, many of the young men from Brooklyn Park joined the 1st Minnesota.
Not to be confused with its neighbor of Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park originally encompassed the area of what is today Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, and Crystal. Over time the area grew so rapidly, that the cities of Brooklyn Center and Crystal incorporated into their own cities in 1860. This resulted in three separate, unique cities with their own communities.
The community in Brooklyn Park during its early days was generational. Young boys would learn the ways of farming from their fathers, and then grow up, take over the farm, and continue the family practice. The school in 1934 had a graduating class of 38 students, and that was considered a very substantial amount in the mid-1930’s. In the 60’s, Brooklyn Park became known for their potato crops. They were so popular that the community started what is still known today as “Tator Daze”, which was started in 1964. During these days, folks would gather together and have a fun time playing games. They even had a potato contest to see who had grown the best potatoes. During the event, everyone wore a potato sack over their shirt to boost community spirit as the celebrated the local festival.
Over time Brooklyn Park moved away from its agricultural roots and became a much more industrialized, suburban city. This was largely due to the fact that the population soared during the late 1900’s. This influx of residents led to Brooklyn Park’s status as the 2nd largest suburb of Minneapolis today and is a large reason why many people enjoy calling it home.