Created By: Upper Madison Improvement Group
The story of Manning Boulevard begins more than a mile away, in Washington Park: Both were part of a nineteenth-century city beautification plan.
In the 1870s and 1880s, planners imagined Washington Park as the jewel in a ring of greenspaces and boulevards around the city, linked to provide a circuit for an afternoon carriage ride. As part of the plan, Western Avenue west of the park got the works: granite paving, curbs, sidewalks and twin rows of Norway maples. Here, at the boulevard, the route was to turn north.
The Board of Commissioners of Washington Park adopted a proposal to use the city’s destitute as construction labor, with the crews switched out frequently in order to spread the wealth. It was one of those ideas that worked better on paper: The crew changes meant the work advanced in fits and starts. Ultimately the ring of boulevards was never completed, but this section between Western and Washington avenues nevertheless became a city showplace and a site of fashionable homes.
Manning Boulevard was named after park commissioner Daniel Manning, who had been treasury secretary under President Grover Cleveland.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Pine Hills