Information reprinted from
1986 Brooklyn Center Sun-Post supplement.
The complexion of Brooklyn Center has changed dramatically in 75 years from a landscape dotted with truck farms to a thriving metropolitan city and the market basket of the Northwest suburbs.
The story of Brooklyn Center begins in 1881 and 1882 when part of the Fort Snelling Reserve, protected from settlement by a separate treaty with the Dakota tribes, opened after the U.S. government signed treaties with the Sioux.
First families began moving into the general area to clear land for farming and to build homes in the summer of 1852. First settler was Ezra Hanscom, who came to Minnesota from Maine in 1850. Within three years there was considerable population. The area was heavily populated by Indians, but they were not hostile and caused trouble only by their pilfering. More excitement was probably due to claim jumping among white settlers than to disturbances by the Indians.
EARLY SETTLERS were former residents of New England with many coming from Maine. Contrary to what most people think, that Brooklyn Center was named after Brooklyn, New York, Brooklyn Center was named after the former township and present railway village of Brooklyn, Mich., by pioneers from southern Michigan who came here in 1853.
Brooklyn Center, as we know it today is composed of parts of Brooklyn Township, created in 1852 the year of statehood, and Crystal Township, created in 1860. Truck farmers here, afraid that Minneapolis might annex Crystal Township and their taxes would increase, took legal action to create the village of Brooklyn Center 75 years ago – in 1911, and the city plans to celebrate the event throughout the years.
An election was held February 14, 1911 in a garage on the Earle Brown Farm. Eighty-three votes were cast with 69 in favor and 14 against incorporation. (Women were not allowed to vote until 1919.) On February 18, 1911, the incorporation papers for the village of Brooklyn Center were filed in the Secretary of State’s office.
R. W. Reidhead was elected the first mayor – from 1911 to 1915 and council meetings were held on the second floor of the Ruhl Howe Store, 69th and Brooklyn Blvd., where Brooklyn Center Mobil is located. The room was also a community hall where dances were held and baked chicken dinners were served. It was also the location of the first post office.
LATER, COUNCIL MEETINGS were held in a village tool shed on 57th Ave., N. on the east side of Brooklyn Blvd. The building, which had a dirt floor and “vicious mosquitoes,” was moved to make way for County Road 10. The village passed a $25,000 bond issue and built a municipal liquor store on 65th and Lyndale in 1949 where village offices were maintained. But the village was beginning to grow, and the building was expanded in 1954 to accommodate council chambers and general administrative offices. Cost of the enlargement was paid for entirely from profits of the liquor store. The city now has three municipal liquor stores.
In 1960, village offices were moved to 7100 Brooklyn Blvd. in the former Willow Lane Annex. In 1971, the new Brooklyn Center City Hall and Community Center were built on Shingle Creek parkway after a successful bond referendum for $2,280.00. The sale of bonds also covered the construction of the east fire station and the municipal garage.
In 1957, the then village had 13 employees. Today there are 130 city employees, and the city has an 1986 budget of $3,594,096. The Brooklyn Center Volunteer Fire Department was organized in 1946 and is authorized to have 40 members. Currently, there are 36 active members with two persons on probation. A full-time police department was established in 1953. There are now 48 permanent or 40 full-time employees in the police department, including a chief, two captains, five investigators and 17 persons on patrol.
The population of Brooklyn Center was 500 in 1911; 4,300 in 1 950; 24,356 in 1960; 37,173 in 1970; 31,230 in 1980 and approximately 30,820 in 1984. In 1966, voters approved a city charter establishing a council-manager form of government and Brooklyn Center became a city rather than a village. The council is composed of a mayor, elected to a two-year term, and four council members, elected at large to three-year terms.