Como Park has become a staple area in the Twin Cities area, with over 2.5 million visitors every year. Offering year-round activities such as paddle boating, canoeing, fishing, cross-country skiing, and paths for walking, biking, and rollerblading, Como Park remains busy at all times of year with patrons of all ages. Since its founding in 1873, Como Park has been the location of many fond memories, from the zoo to the conservatory to the old street car line that connected Minneapolis and St. Paul. Every so often we like to remind the park regulars of its roots, which has carried out its original vision for generations: “Creating memories and inspiring appreciation of the natural world.”
In the late 19th century, the need for parks in urban areas was becoming more and more obvious. It was during this time that Horace WS Cleveland, a famous landscape architect, began developing plans for a park in St. Paul as land became more and more scarce. Cleveland emphasized the importance of an area for city residents to escape the hustle and bustle of city life where they could play and appreciate nature.
After the land was set aside in 1873, the park changed hands several times until 1887, when the funds were allocated to develop the board into an area into a more aesthetically pleasing park. Several years later, in 1892, Frederick Nussbaumer was named the Superintedent of Parks. Nussbaumer, who had always believed strongly in the importance of parks, saw Como Park as a wonderful window of opportunity. As a man who believed in using parks for recreational purposes saw the park through many changes in his thirty years as park superintendent. He added floral gardens, gravel walkways, ponds, pergolas, and fountains. It was during Nussbaumer’s time that the park grew into what we know it as today with the zoo, conservatory, and park.
Almost a century later, the lakeside pavilion on Como Lake became home to Black Bear Crossings Café and Banquet Center which brings the warmth, atmosphere, and positive energy that is essential in making the pavilion a welcoming place. From the handmade native arts and crafts to the outdoor patio overlooking Como Lake, the addition of Black Bear Crossings was an upgrade to the park that gave the community another reason to make Como Park a part of their lives for generations to come.
- Even before European settlement, the Mdewakanton Dakota passed through the Como Park area on their way from their southern homelands to harvest wild rice in the northern lakes.
- Ice skating and Olympic speed skating trials used to take place on Como Lake.
- Como Lake was named after the famous Lake Como in the Italian Alps, the homeland of Charles Perry who owned the land around Como Lake.
- If you’re looking for historic photos of the park, you may visit Black Bear Crossings Café and Banquet Center in the lakeside pavilion and go to the second floor mezzanine.
- The lakeside pavilion hosts free concerts from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Located in the historic Como Lakeside Pavilion in St. Paul, Minnesota, Black Bear Crossings Café & Banquet Center manages one of the best coffee shops and gourmet cafés in St. Paul. Stop by for breakfast, lunch or afternoon snack! Black Bear Crossings Café & Banquet Center also hosts music and events in Como Park, community meetings and is the ideal historic wedding venue in St. Paul.