Brackett Park, an unpretentious getaway tucked into the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis, had been long been known as “rocket park.” From 1962-2004, a metal rocket was the park’s centerpiece. Children, including my two boys, regularly climbed the rocket’s ladder into an imaginary playland filled with dreams of outer space and exploration.
For photos and more, go directly to Building Minnesota, Todd Melby’s personal blog.
In 2003, I wrote this about the rocket for the Seward Profile, now the Bridge newspaper:
“Dashan Washington had to climb 11 rungs on three metal ladders to reach the controls of the Brackett Park moon rocket. But even on a chilly afternoon, it was worth the trip.
“From his perch high above the park, the 10-year-old could grab a makeshift steering wheel and imagine soaring above the clouds. Still, he had a few complaints about the 42-year-old rocket, which may be removed as part of a playground renovation later this year.
““They ought to make it so the wheel turns and stuff moves,” Washington said, while a 6-year-old cousin straggled up the ladder behind him.
“Installed in 1962, just one year after President John F. Kennedy urged the nation to support efforts to reach the moon by 1970, the aging rocket has seen better days. Orange paint is peeling from its base, graffiti obscures several surfaces and many parents say the approximately 30-foot-high relic isnt without its hazards.
“Two summers ago, Cara Letofsky’s daughter managed to get her head stuck in between the vertical slats on the rocket’s third level.
“She freaked,” Letofsky said.
“Letofsky, who was pregnant at the time, couldn’t squeeze through the 15-inch openings between levels. However, she had the foresight to have another adult follow her two-year-old up the rocket. That person unlodged the young girl, who wasn’t injured.”
I drove by the park on Monday afternoon and there it was again! The Brackett Park rocket returns in all its 1960s glory. Brackett Park Boosters and FORECAST Public Artworks teamed up to raise funds for the rocket’s return, hosting pancake breakfasts (I remember attending the yummy one a couple of years ago at the Town Talk Diner), movies at the Riverview Theater and other events.
Randy Walker designed the slightly-angled presentation, cables and platform for the rocket. Held in place by 84 steel cables, the rocket now stands about 35 feet high. If you’d like to visit the rocket, make your way over to 28th Street and 36th Avenue South. It’s just north of the Midtown Greenway.