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Minneapolis City Planning Department Records

Identifier: M/A 0314

Description of Contents

The collection contains memos, staff notes, correspondence, reports, meeting minutes, news releases, grant and financial documents, data gathered for studies, and formal staff papers and studies from the City of Minneapolis' Planning Department from the 1920s through the early 1970s. The bulk of the records date from the mid-1960s through the early 1970s, especially during Lawrence Irvin's time in the department.

The bulk of the collection consists of material related to studies and planning projects conducted by the Department, as well as material pertaining to the Department's involvement in the Minneapolis Model City Program, for which work to improve a section of South-Central Minneapolis began in 1968 and continued through the mid-1970s. The Model City Program material reflects the Department's coordination between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Model City Program staff and committees. The Project and Study Files showcase the Department's work with riverfront development, social services, the Municipal Information System, downtown planning, housing, and other topics. Within the Project and Study Files, researchers will also find data and other documentation for the Community Improvement Program (CIP) study conducted by the Department, which was used as the basis for Minneapolis' Model City Program. A small number of project and study files document projects from the 1920s to 1940s, but the majority of records date from the 1960s and 1970s. The collection also contains a small amount of material related to the City and Department more broadly, as well as documentation of Department staff members' inter-agency work on various committees outside of the City of Minneapolis. A small series documents Works Progress Administration (WPA) surveys completed on behalf of the department during the 1930s.


  • Creation: 1959 - 1977
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1966 - 1970


Access Restrictions

The collection is available for use in Special Collections at Minneapolis Central Library during the department's open hours.


The Minneapolis City Planning Department was established in 1921. Staff included a City Planning Engineer, assistants, draftsmen, architects, and surveyors, all housed in Minneapolis' Municipal Building. In 1918, the City Planning Act for Minnesota and the City Planning Commission were established, but before that date there was no concerted approach to city planning in Minneapolis.

Throughout its existence, the City Planning Department worked alongside the Planning Commission, preparing comprehensive, long-range plans and studies, conducting research to identify priorities for community improvements, and coordinating social and physical improvement programs both inside and outside city government. Unlike the Planning Commission, which consisted of individuals appointed by the mayor and others serving on the City Council, School Board, Park Board, and County Board, individuals in the City Planning Department were staff of the City of Minneapolis.

In 1958, the Planning Department hired Lawrence Irvin, who served as the Department's Director for over 20 years. Throughout the 1960s, the Department was involved in numerous neighborhood urban renewal and downtown planning projects. Based on the Community Improvement Program (CIP) study conducted by the Department, the City Council initiated a program called "Decision '67, Action for Better Living," consisting of three main projects aimed at improving physical, social, and economic conditions - the Pilot City Program, Model City Program, and Downtown Business District. The Planning Department was particularly effective in obtaining federal grant money to execute the City's improvement projects. However, by the mid-1970s, federal funding models had shifted and neighborhood groups became more directly involved in planning programs, diminishing the need for such extensive coordination with the City Planning Department.

In 1968, the City Coordinator's Office, led by Thomas Thompson, was reorganized to include the City Planning Department, which then became known for a time as the Planning and Development Division, with separate Planning and Development Departments operating within it. Lawrence Irvin remained Division Director, Ralph Quiggle served as Director of Planning, and Delroy Peterson as Director of Development. The Division consisted of numerous other professional and clerical staff, including planner Richard Heath, who joined the Department in 1964 and was heavily involved in the Community Improvement Program study. In 2003, the Planning Department, along with three other City agencies - the Empowerment Zone, Minneapolis Community Development Agency, and Minneapolis Employment and Training Program, were combined to form the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED).


4.16 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials


Donor Information

The collection was donated by the City of Minneapolis in 2016 as accession 2016.01.

Related Materials in Hennepin County Library Special Collections

Lawrence M. Irvin Papers (M/A 0019)

Collection on the Minneapolis Model City Program (M/A 0226)

Department of Community Planning and Economic Development Records (M/A 0298)

Maps and blueprints received from the City of Minneapolis, many created by the City Planning Commission, are included in the Special Collections Map Collection. Contact Special Collections for more information.

Processing Information

Processing for the collection was done in 2016 by Wendy Guerra and Carissa Hansen. A significant amount of material produced by the Minneapolis Model City Program and received for reference by the Planning and Development Division was removed from the collection and incorporated into the Minneapolis Model City Collection (M/A 0226). Duplicate material, out of scope U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) material, and out of scope reprints and reports were also removed from the collection.

Works Progress Administration records and files from the 1920s through 1940s were added to the collection by Jenna Himsl in March 2018.

Minneapolis City Planning Department Records
Carissa Hansen, additions by Jenna Himsl
September 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Hennepin County Library Special Collections Repository

Minneapolis Central Library
300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis MN 55401 U.S.A.