Brooklyn Center has a longer history as a village than its neighbor, Brooklyn Park, but it is much smaller and experienced most of its population growth in the 1950s (jumping from 4,200 residents in 1950 to 24,000 just ten years later). Like its neighbor, though, Brooklyn Center has become increasingly diverse in the past generation as more African Americans and Hmong from Southeast Asia have moved into city.
The village was incorporated in 1911, basically to short-circuit annexation by its neighbor, Minneapolis, even though the area was mostly farmland at that time. Brooklyn Center was first settled by folks who came from New England, followed by immigrants from Scandinavia.
Much of the land that is now the City of Brooklyn Center was once owned by Earle Brown, a man of many interests. Brown, known for his love of Belgian horses, bought a farm in 1901 from his grandfather and went on to become one of the wealthiest farmers in the region. He also served as sheriff during Prohibition and was none too eager to crack down on bootlegging. During World War I, Brown volunteered use of his land for pilot training and, in 1929, established a training college that led to the creation of the Minnesota Highway Patrol. The core part of his estate was preserved and is now a conference center. You, too, can celebrate his legacy by attending the annual festival called, appropriately enough, Earle Brown Days.
Exploring the Area
The Mississippi National River and Recreation (651.290.4160) runs for 72 miles through the Twin Cities. While the National Park Service owns very little land along the corridor, it has many programs to help connect people to the river. Visit their website for a complete listing of places to enjoy the river.
Parks along the Mississippi River
- North Mississippi Regional Park (4900 N. Mississippi Dr.)
Sample craft beer after seeing how it’s brewed at the Surly Brewery; free tours are generally offered on Friday and Saturday evenings, but check website to verify and to register in advance (4811 Dusharme Dr.).
See the Twin Cities Overview for tips on festivals, getting around, and more.
Continuing downriver? Check out the Minneapolis guide.
Continuing upriver? Check out Brooklyn Park.
© Dean Klinkenberg, 2013