A visit to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota’s sacred Black Hills is more than a lesson in a how to carve faces on a really big mountain. It’s also a bit of a history lesson in the four presidents represented there and why their faces are immortalized in stone.
But to learn about the 40 other folks who have held the title of President of the United States, plan an afternoon walking tour around downtown Rapid City South Dakota.
Rapid City – Gateway to the Black Hills
Recognized for many years as the Gateway to the Black Hills, Rapid City has built upon its proximity to the famous mountain 20 miles away and has rebranded itself as The City of Presidents.
Starting in the year 2000, downtown businesses and other civic leaders began installing life-sized bronze statues of all 43 individuals who have occupied the Oval Office. No. 44 will be added as he leaves office, and so on.
South Dakota artists were selected to research the lives and presidencies of each individual and create a sculpture that was a reflection not only of his term in office, but his life as a whole. Civic leaders then put a little walking tour brochure together that tells a bit more about each president and why the artist chose to portray him in the way he did.
Walk with the Presidents
There’s nothing at all partisan about it. In fact, the sculptures do not address political party or public opinion. You learn about our presidents as individuals, not as political figures. Many are shown with their pets, their children or engaging in their hobbies.
One of our presidents was drafted as a professional baseball player and one was a concert violinist. Another is responsible for the expression we all use – “OK.” And another one’s child was killed on his way to his father’s inauguration.
Plan on spending several hours in downtown Rapid City, getting selfies with all the presidents, picking up a piece of Native American art at Prairie Edge, or enjoying a cold one at the Firehouse Brewery.
And when you go home, you’ll be able to ace any presidential history quiz and perhaps be better prepared to vote for the next individual to have his or her sculpture anchored on the streets of Rapid City South Dakota.