Explore downtown Rapid City, South Dakota, and you’ll encounter more than just Mount Rushmore when it comes to presidential landmarks. While Mount Rushmore is undeniably iconic, this city offers another unique opportunity to connect with history. Delve into downtown Rapid City’s charm and discover the City of Presidents – a collection of presidential statues that lets you capture the spirit of various United States Presidents through memorable photographs. Don’t miss the chance to immerse yourself in this one-of-a-kind experience. Here are some valuable tips to enhance your visit to the City of Presidents.
The origins of this project trace back to the early 20th century when Rapid City made a pivotal decision to honor the legacy of US presidents. The initial statue displayed was that of Abraham Lincoln, marking the project’s inception. Following this, a group of diverse sculptors joined forces to craft the 42 remarkable statues that grace the city today. According to Dallerie Davis, co-founder of the City of Presidents project humorously remarked, “If one of them wasn’t cooperating, I threatened them with having to do Millard Fillmore.”
For those considering their inaugural trip to Rapid City, the city boasts a strategic location right off I-90 in the southwest region of South Dakota. Situated approximately 30 minutes away from Mount Rushmore and just over an hour’s drive from the entrance to Badlands National Park, it offers easy access to these renowned attractions. Among Rapid City’s highlights is the self-guided presidential walking tour, an iconic feature that we opted to explore firsthand.
After parking our car on 7th and Main Street, we took matters into our own hands. Initially unsure of how to navigate the Square of Presidents, we decided to start off randomly and follow our instincts. Eventually, we embarked on a journey that led us to witness every single president’s statue. Unless you’re a history enthusiast, you might not recognize all the US presidents and their significance. However, certain iconic presidents are familiar due to their presence on dollar bills or because they served during your lifetime.
One captivating aspect is that a group of six distinct artists meticulously sculpted over forty bronze statues of US presidents, all of which you can admire up close. The attention to detail in these sculptures is truly remarkable. Standing amidst these statues feels like a journey back in time to the very origins of the United States. During our visit, we noticed the majority of presidents, with President Trump’s statues still pending at the time.
Among the most renowned statues are those of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, Thomas Jefferson, Calvin Coolidge, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and many others I can’t cover here.
This presented a wonderful opportunity for us to educate our young kids about the US presidents, and they thoroughly enjoyed the experience of posing next to their favorites for photographs. They enthusiastically shook hands with Barack Obama, had a seat alongside George Washington, and gazed in awe at Abraham Lincoln’s statue. This excursion served as an enlightening experience, aiding them in grasping the significance of these presidents in the context of the United States.
Although the self-guided tour proved lengthy for our little ones, they never voiced any complaints. They darted from one statue to the next, covering around 20 in total. Eventually, their interest waned, but the allure of ice cream quickly captured their attention. With that in mind, we decided to indulge in some food before completing the rest of the tour.
What truly stood out was the random dispersion of statues across the street corners. This layout ensured no preference for any particular president, fostering a sense of equal importance among visitors. This equitable presentation was something I highly valued.
Upon completing our tour, a kind lady offered us a guided tour map, a gesture we appreciated with gratitude and a smile on our faces. It was a pleasant surprise to see that there was a map available to follow. As we departed the city, a sense of awe lingered within us, and we extended our thanks to all the presidents who have contributed to the greatness of this country.