Mingle with the chief executives at Rapid City’s ‘City of Presidents’

Ronald Reagan. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

RAPID CITY, South Dakota — The City of Presidents is one of the more unique public art installations anywhere in the world.

The installation, which sprawls over several city blocks, features statues of all 43 presidents. It offers the opportunity to connect with the nation’s chief executives uniquely — whether it’s a selfie or just a photo for the old travel album.

The installation — which has been touted as the state’s third-largest public art project, behind Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial — dates to circa 2000. In 2019, the most recent statue, of Barack Obama and sculpted by Rapid City artist James Van Nuys, was unveiled.

Every president represented

But, the installation has not been without controversy or problems.

In 2018, for example, a car struck the statue of Harry Truman, the second time in 11 years, the Rapid City Journal reported.

More recently, some have called for the Obama statue’s removal and even threatened to steal it, the local newspaper reported. But, it does not appear the street corner chief executives will be on the move anytime soon.

“My response to all of these is exactly the same. We are the City of Presidents,” the local newspaper quoted Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender as saying earlier this year. “We have statues of 44 presidents of the United States. Every one of them did great things for our country, but every one of them is a sinner. Every one of them have made mistakes, made a fool out of themselves, maybe even embarrassed this country because they are human beings.”

What about Trump?

The next statue to be added will be of President Donald Trump. The addition, however, will not be made until after Trump leaves office, according to a newspaper report. The foundation that oversees the statues has identified 16 locations on four intersections as possible places to put statues in the future, the Rapid City Journal reported.

Of course, South Dakota is a state that loves Trump, so more than one statue of the 45th president may be erected across the state. Perhaps they can replace the pop-up Trump shops that currently dot the landscape.

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About Todd DeFeo 1357 Articles
Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is the owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits Express Telegraph and Railfanning.org.