Beginnings of Brooklyn Park
What is now Brooklyn Park was part of the Missouri Territory in the early 19th century, under a treaty agreement with the Dakota Indians. The early pioneers began settling the territory in 1852, after the federal government opened the area to settlers.
Early in 1852, a territorial legislature passed a law that organized Hennepin County and in 1852, Brooklyn Township became reality.
The City was very different back then. There were no roads, only trails made by earlier Ojibway Indians who lived in the area.
Washington Getchell and his son Winslow were among the settlers who staked claim to what is now called Getchell Prairie in the southern part of the township.
Ezra Hanscom, a native of Maine, built his home near the Getchell family in 1852. Hanscom’s house was the site of the first town meeting on May 11, 1858, when the Township elected officers
In late 1853 and early 1854 settlers from Michigan officially named the area Brooklyn Township, after their home territory of Brooklyn, Michigan.
Brooklyn Township was originally an area larger than what is now Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center today. In 1860, two tiers of sections were cutoff in the south, forming the towns of Brooklyn Center and Crystal Lake. What was left was known as Brooklyn Township and ultimately, Brooklyn Park.
Time capsule opened after 40 years
For nearly four decades, a glimpse into an earlier Brooklyn Park laid undiscovered in the heart of our city. It was hidden, like most things unique, in plain sight where it would undoubtedly go overlooked. Lost among the public library’s mass of books was a time capsule.
It began in 1976, when the Brooklyn Park City Council and Mayor gathered a number of items descriptive of the era: pictures, a Tater Daze pin, the City song, and predictions for the year 2000, placing them all in a time capsule which was not to be opened until 2016.
Well, that time has come. On Thursday, May 26, upon the closing of the Brooklyn Park Library (the time capsules longtime home), it was revealed at a regular community engagement meeting in the City Council Chambers. As each item of the capsule was introduced, residents both young and old reminisced on the growth our city has endured.
“Oh, this is the old City Hall?” one resident asked as he was trying to make sense of a picture. “No kidding. It almost looks like the post office.”
Over the 40-year span since the inception of the time capsule, the city landscape has changed drastically. In fact, most residents in attendance had not lived in the city long enough to remember the year in which the time capsule was constructed. But, that didn’t stop them from enjoying themselves on a night full of surprises.
It seemed there was an energy about the room, a mixture of curiosity and expectancy, as the facilitator moved from object to object.
“The number of policemen they thought we would have is 30,” said one resident about an old councilman’s predictions.
The room erupted with laughter.
“[The City] was a lot smaller then,” added another resident.
Today, the story is quite different than 40 years ago. Brooklyn Park is the 6th biggest city in Minnesota, yet Gordy Aune Jr. believes we are heading in the right direction.
“We seem to have a small community feel in a big city,” said Aune. “I think that’s important.”
Although, it’s fun to revisit the past, it’s time to turn our attention to the future.