Lake Harriet

Minneapolis, Minnesota | C.1885

Photo Credit: Jeremy Bardwell

Just south of Bde Maka Ska, the largest lake in Minneapolis, sits Lake Harriet, a sizable body of water in her own right. Originally named Bde Unma, meaning “other lake” in the language of the native Dakota tribe, Lake Harriet has served as a recreational safe haven for Minneapolitans since 1885.

This lake shares its namesake with Harriet Lovejoy, the wife of Colonel Henry Leavenworth, who arrived in the region in 1819. At the time, the lake and surrounding land was owned by “Colonel” William S. King, a U.S. Representative for Minnesota whose military title is suspected to be a nickname. King sold the Lake to Minneapolis in 1885.

Since then, Lake Harriet has been a popular spot for the city’s residents. A public pavilion known as the Bandshell has stood on the northern side of the Lake since 1888 and has undergone five restorations and rebuilds.

One of the most enduring activities enjoyed on Lake Harriet is ice fishing – thanks to the lake’s abundance and variety of fish. Those who venture out onto Lake Harriet during the winter months are likely to see colorful ice fishing huts created by artful anglers.

Known as “art shanties,” these huts are part of the Art Shanty Project experiment, which turns traditional ice fishing houses into art studios and private retreats. For the last 17 years, the annual festival has invited visitors to explore the shanties and meet the artists all along Lake Harriet’s frozen surface.

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