Rapid City: The City of Presidents

31 March 2016

Visitors to the historic downtown of South Dakota’s Rapid City are in for something of a surprise. Turn a corner and you come face to face with a life size bronze statue of the USA’s first ever President, George Washington (above, who was in office from 1789 – 1797).  Turn another and you come across his successor, George Adams. In fact there is a statue of each US President in the city (bar the current incumbent).  As well as being a remarkable tribute to the leaders of America, it's a great way to memorize the presidents. Take a look at each, in order of his time as POTUS.

John Adams - 1797 - 1801
The project began in 2000 with the pattern of placement throughout the Downtown district specifically chosen to give those doing the ‘tour’ a rational structure while avoiding any favouritism to a particular president or party.

Thomas Jefferson - 1801 - 1809
Each statue cost $50,000 to cover the costs of both commission and installation and as the project is all funded by public subscription that means that so far over $2m has been raised to cover the costs of this ambitious project.

James Madison - 1809 - 1817
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin
It has been quite a journey for the City of Presidents Foundation, which unveiled the first four statues (George Washington, John Adams, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush) in 2000.  Since then every year has seen the unveiling of four more presidents in Rapid City, two from the past and two from modern times.

James Monroe - 1817 - 1825
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin
The artists who have sculpted the presidents are all native to South Dakota - John Lopez, Lee Leuning, Edward E. Hlavka, James Michael Maher and James Van Nuys.  The project has not been without its detractors either, with some alleging that the city has broken its own rules on public art – yet a Seventh Circuit Judge eventually ruled in its favor.

John Quincy Adams - 1825 - 1829
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin
A great deal of time and effort went in to each of the presidents – the desire was to catch them at their most idiosyncratic and each sculpture certainly stands as a work of art within its own right.  However, most would agree that the site of all the presidents in one place is even more than the sum of its parts.

Andrew Jackson - 1829 - 1837
Image Credit Flickr User pandrcutts

Martin Van Buren - 1837 - 1841
Image Credit Flickr User pandrcutts

William Henry Harrison - March 4 1841 - April 4 1841
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin

John Tyler - 1841 - 1845
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin

James K Polk - 1845 - 1849
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin

Zachary Taylor - 1849 - 1850
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin

Millard Fillmore - 1850 - 1853
Image Credit Flickr User jimmywayne

Franklin Pierce - 1853 - 1857
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin

James Buchanan - 1857 - 1861
Image Credit Flickr User jstin

Abraham Lincoln - 1861 - 1865
Image Credit Flickr User edwarddallas

Andrew Johnson - 1865 - 1869
Image Credit Flickr User Les Stockton

Ulysses S Grant - 1869 - 1877
Image Credit Flickr User edwarddallas

Rutherford B Hayes - 1877 - 1881
Image Credit Flickr User edwarddallas

James A Garfield - March 4 1881 - September 19 1881
Image Credit Flickr User edwarddallas

Chester A Arthur - 1881 - 1885
Image Credit Flickr User Les Stockton

Grover Cleveland - 1885 - 1889, 1893 - 1897
Image Credit Flickr User edwarddallas

Benjamin Harrison - 1889 - 1893
Image Credit Flickr User edwarddallas

William McKinley - 1897 - 1901
Image Credit Flickr User edwarddallas

Theodore Roosevelt - 1901 - 1909
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin

William Howard Taft - 1909 - 1913
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin

Woodrow Wilson - 1913 - 1921
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin

Warren G Harding - 1921 - 1923
Image Credit Flickr User jimmywayne

Calvin Coolidge - 1923 - 1929
Image Credit Flickr User jimmywayne

Herbert Hoover - 1929 - 1933
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin

Franklin D Roosevelt - 1933 - 1945
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin

Harry S Truman - 1945 - 1953
Image Credit Flickr User swanksalot

Dwight D Eisenhower - 1953 - 1961
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin

John F Kennedy - 1961 - 1963
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin
Image Credit Flickr User kev/null

Lyndon B Johnson - 1963 - 1969
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin

Richard Nixon - 1969 - 1974
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin

Gerald Ford - 1974 - 1977
Image Credit Flickr User jimmywayne

Jimmy Carter - 1977 - 1981
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin

Ronald Reagan - 1981 - 1989
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin

George HW Bush - 1989 - 1993
Image Credit Flickr User jvstin

Bill Clinton - 1993 - 2001
Image Credit Flickr User Les Stockton

George W Bush - 2001 - 2009
George W Bush (PotUS 2001-2009)


No statue of Barack Obama is in place yet, but it is, we are promised, coming soon!

First Image Credit Flickr User jimmywayne


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