Rice Park, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Before it became a park, Rice Park was used as an open space to dry laundry and graze animals. The land was eventually made into a "public square" in 1849 by John R. Irvine, a territorial pioneer and Henry M. Rice, territorial delegate and United States Senator. The park was named after early Minnesota Senator Henry M. Rice. Rice park sits atop a small hill where glacial melt failed to erode completely. The park was mostly ignored until 1860 when Mayor John S. Prince had shade trees planted. In the 1870s the park got a fountain and a bandstand. A pair of squirrels were given to the park by the chief of police in Memphis, Tennessee as an act of goodwill. Eventually, electric lights were installed in 1883. This was on the occasion of the visit by President Chester A. Arthur, former president Ulysses S. Grant, and General William Tecumseh Sherman, at the opening of Northern Pacific's West Coast rail line. The historic buildings, museums, and music halls that border the park were constructed over a period of nearly 100 years. On May 10, 1903 Saint Paul Globe reported that Rice Park was the traditional place in St. Paul for newly engaged couples to go and sit. The Women’s Institute of Saint Paul donated a new fountain to the park on June 14, 1965. Minnesota sculptor Alonzo Hauser designed the fountain, titled 'the Source', with a statue of a woman in the water. Rice Park has been honored as a Great Place in America by the American Planning Association in 2011.
Location and FeaturesEdit
Rice Park is about 2 acres in size. It is located at 4th Street and Washington Street in downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota. Rice Park sits above the Mississippi River’s highest flood level, so its surroundings are important buildings like the Federal Customs House (now Landmark Center), Central Public Library, and the grand St. Paul Hotel. More recently the park was given character sculptures from the Peanuts cartoons to honor the birthplace of Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz. It also has an ice rink during the winter months. Rice Park forms a pathway between eight different significant buildings, adding to its popularity.
Activities and EventsEdit
Rice Park was placed right in the heart of the busy city of Saint Paul. The park is used year-round. During the summer, music, specifically blues, jazz, and original composition, can be heard at noon on various Mondays starting in June. The park has an annual Winter Carnival, one of the oldest and largest winter festivals in the country. These activities include a tree lighting ceremony, ice skating, watching fireworks, listening to holiday music and family-friendly activities. Rice Park is also available for private parties and gatherings. It can accommodate a wedding party of up to 200 people.
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