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Cooper Park

Cooper Park is Lincoln’s oldest public park. While many improvements have been made to the park during its 150 year history, several of its current amenities are in need of repair/replacement/renewal. With input from representatives of the South Salt Creek Neighborhood and NeighborWorks, a park master plan was developed to guide future renovation efforts and phased park improvements intended to increase its usage as a neighborhood gathering space and outdoor recreational facility. While funding has been secured to move forward with several items identified in the plan, some of the more extensive items are envisioned to be completed over time as funding is identified.

cooper park master plan

History

Cooper Park, Lincoln’s first park, has also been called “City Park”, “Lincoln Park” and “F Street Park”. In 1867, before Lincoln was incorporated, 11.54 acres of land was identified for the creation of a park but was not developed or maintained for many years. Many attempts were made to plant trees and even to farm the land, but all failed due to lack of water. In 1882, a well was sunk in the park, which supplied the city with water for many years.

By July 12, 1900, the park officially opened to the public, with an appearance from Lincoln resident, founder of the Populist movement, and presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan and his wife.

In 1951, a neighborhood meeting to address the park’s status was held at the American Forward Association Hall, adjacent to the park. The new plans provided landscaping, recreation, and leisure. The Cooper Foundation financed the project with a $35,000 gift and the park was officially re-dedicated as its current name, Cooper Park, on August 10, 1954.

In 2000, the South Salt Creek Community Organization placed the “Daydreams” statue near the park shelter, referring to the 1890s text The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The character The Cowardly Lion, was thought to be based upon William Jennings Bryan’s involvement in the Populist movement, a political subtext of the book. The “Daydreams” statue features the protagonist, Dorothy, and her trusty Scottish terrier, Toto.


Funding and Park Updates

Project updates will occur periodically. Please check back in the future!

For more information or to get involved, contact the Lincoln Parks Foundation, director@lincolnparks.org or 402-441-8258.

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