Lake of the Isles is a lake in Minneapolis, Minnesota, connected to Cedar Lake and Lake Calhoun. In winter it is used for ice skating and hockey is the location of a New Year's Eve celebration featuring roasted marshmallows and hot chocolate. The lake has an area of 109 acres (0.4 km2), 2.86 miles (4.6 km) of shoreline with a little under three miles of paved walking and biking paths, and a maximum depth of 31 feet (9 m).
Lake of the Isles is known for its two wooded islands, its long north arm, and the surrounding stately houses of the Kenwood, Lowry Hill, and East Isles neighborhoods. The lake was named for small islands that used to exist in the lake, wetlands area, and was used from the earliest days of settlement of Minneapolis. At one time the lake contained four small islands, but two of them, near the south shore of the lake, were converted to parkland as the lake was developed and dredged to its current shape and size. The two remaining wooded islands, Mike's Island in the north and Raspberry Island, are protected wildlife refuges which contain virgin woods. Landing on either of the islands is prohibited, as marked by signs.
The lake was created in its current form in the early 20th century by dredging a small lake, called Wita Tomna ("four islands lake") by the local Dakota people, and an adjacent marsh. The dredged materials—mostly peat and silt—were used to create about 36 acres (150,000 m2) of parkland around the lake and the two islands in the middle of the lake. The settling of these materials and the pressure of urban development led to an unstable shoreline and reduced water quality. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is in engaged in a multiyear project to stabilize the shoreline, renovate the parkland, and construct twelve stone points of access to the lake.
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