Ann Arbor's city parks sit on the ancestral and traditional homelands of several indigenous Native peoples. Read a
land acknowledgement from the city and learn more about the early history of the land
The land that comprises Riverside Park mostly overlaps with the original land purchase of Allen Rumsey and Elisha Walker Rumsey. This land was the first plot of land of the village that became the City of Ann Arbor. The original deed from 1825 was only recovered in 1974. Read more about it and Riverside's early history in
this article from the Ann Arbor News.
Riverside Park's land was acquired by the city over a nine year period from 1925-1934. The land was being used as an unofficial dump, and cleaning it up was a major reason for acquiring the land. This was a difficult task, as it was split between many different owners.
Eli Gallup, the parks director and namesake of
Gallup Park, led and presided over this lengthy land acquisition process. Gallup was the parks superintendent from 1919-1957 and acquired nearly 1,000 acres of land along the Huron River for the parks system. In total sixteen different parcels had to be acquired. Gallup enlisted workers during the Depression using the federal Works Progress Administration program to help clean up the area. The playground was built in 1934. The park was named "Riverside Park," which used to be the name of Broadway Park but was not often used to refer to it. Read more about the history of Broadway and Riverside Parks and Gallup's acquisitions in this
Ann Arbor Observer article.
Riverside Park as seen from the air in 1967.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the city struggled with maintaining the water levels just past the Argo Dam. This caused increased erosion at Riverside Park and other areas along the Huron River. Several shoreline restoration projects have happened in the park along the river banks as a result. In one instance,
two people in a canoe nearly died when their canoe was sucked through the dam in a sudden surge of water. An article from the Ann Arbor News in 1987 details efforts to manage the water levels. Today, canoers, kayakers and rafters float past Riverside Park after embarking from Argo Park on their way down river to the Gallup Park Canoe Livery.