Saturday, December 31, 2011

THE CITY OF PRESIDENTS

Pres. James Monroe
By Presidents Information Center
Note: Gold Railroad Spike
Rapid City, South Dakota is referred to as City of Presidents because one of their tw0 Historic Districts is the old downtown area with unique buildings and the Walking Tour of presidential statues, a remarkable 10-year achievement in of and itself.

In 1972 Rapid City experienced a devastating major flood along Rapid Creek, killing 272 people. Almost like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, these hardy citizens decided to rebuild their city. Fortunately, the flood did not destroy a high percentage of their historic past, which was impetus for the two historic districts.

Central to their recovery was formation of a Flood Plain Development Committee which addressed concerns for any development in the flood plain of Rapid Creek. One result is development of green areas with flowering shrubs and flowers, bike and walking trails, peaceful parks and playgrounds. Yes, such can be destroyed, but are easier to reconstruct than lost businesses and homes. The result is a beautiful city.

I have failed to find the significance of the spike which
looks like a railroad spike. The First Transcontinental
Railroad was not completed during Monroe's terms of
Office. Monroe's primary claim to fame was
the Monroe Doctrine
Despite the devastating destruction, it gave city fathers and citizens, their government and planning commissions a fresh start in laying out an esthetically, lovely city with a population near 68,000. The City serves as a center of area tourism, but also well integrated hub of several industries.

The completion of I-90, the first east to west coast Interstate in 1978, certainly contributed to Rapid City's recovery success.

Rapid City has two historic
districts and touring buses
are available or you may
follow these signs and
map your own tour.
(Husband's Photo)

We viewed the Downtown Tour of Presidents late in the evening and our photos are not the best so I refer you to this link for complete information and pictures. Rapid City claims to be the only location in the world where all 43 presidents are displayed in life size bronze statues.

The seed of germination for a tour of US Presidents was born in a business man Don Perdue. There was a life-size seated Lincoln outside a hotel where the public interacted with statue, having their photos seated on the bench beside him. Sharing his idea with Dallerie Davis, a realtor and activist of the artist community, the two committed to a 10 year time line for the project.
Rapid City Historic Building
(Husband's Photo)
Seven South Dakota artists/sculptors formed the team. Each artist's commission included extensive research into the presidents' lives of their work.

Pres. Harry Truman Holding
Infamous Newspaper
Published Before Final
Electios Results An-
noucing His Opponent
Winner
For example, President Harry Truman is depicted holding a newspaper with the headline that Dewey won the election. President William Taft was a former baseball pitcher and is sculpted in a pitching position with a baseball in his hand behind his back. President Dwight Eisenhower is shown in full military dress with feet planted on a platform with a map of Europe.

There is a historical building downtown that serves as the Presidents Information Center. The center contains biographies of all the Presidents and maquettes (smaller versions of the actual statues), other memorabilia and souvenirs.


Certain events provoke additional activities. Veterans often gather at Eisenhower's statue on D-Day. On International Women's Day, posters of all First Ladies are displayed by each President. And some devotees of the project wrap scarves around their favorite Presidents during the cold North Dakota winters.

Another Historic Building in Rapid City
(Husband's Photo)

Boy Scouts care for the appearance of the statues. In October 2010 when the last four statues were unveiled, the Scouts paid tribute to Mr. Perdue's dream by reciting, "I will follow my dream--because I can."

The Dream was completed in the 10th year as dreamed by its founders. I believe the very friendly lady at the Information Center said a non-profit foundation was formed. $2 million was raised in private donations.

I, as a former city official, am really impressed with this project, which shows what a small core of committed, devoted people can create, be it a significant historic project, or restoring a near destroyed city with economic impact to its public and private sectors.

Again, Rapid City is a place I would have loved to have the stamina and time to explore.


I plan a FLICKR slide show of the Presidents even though it is not even close to good photography and only presentable through heavy use of Adobe Photoshop Elements. If I knew more of the programs features I probably could have done a much better job. We literally took some of these shots after dark (and I forgot to remove my polarizer which cuts out some light).

As a "flicker" of the slide show I present Pres. Taft, the baseball player. As a younger man he was very athletic. Even after his athletic endeavors were abandoned for politics with its many dinners, potlucks etc., he considered himself "in good shape." a delusion many of us portly people maintain. He was and still is the heaviest man to be President.
Pres. William Taft in the Pitcher's Position
Shaking Off the Catcher's Signal
(Husband's Photo)

Pres. William Taft
Different View
Baseball View in Back



Photos by NitWit1,
unless otherwise
attributed




President William Taft
The Pitcher's Grip
Is It Going to Be A
Slider, Sinker,
Fast Ball?
President William Taft
Alternate View of  Baseball
and Hand Grip
(Husband's photo)

4 comments:

Arkansas Patti said...

Gosh that was interesting and what a project for the city. Have no idea about the spike, it appears an after thought.
I'll bet Taft threw out a mean first pitch for the first game of the season.

CHERI said...

Very interesting! I never cared a whit about history until I got into genealogy. Now I'm sorry that I didn't pay more attention in class:) Happy New Year...hope it's a great one!

Cheryl said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing.

rosaria said...

A wonderful post!
Didn't know much about Taft, before this.
Best wishes for a healthy new year.