"A Visual Walk through the Park"
The elements of earth, air, fire, and water come to mind when describing the RiverPark of Geneva. In addition to the expansive views, the river and its unbroken shoreline, whole cloud formations, unimpeded sun and moon rises, and multiple bird flights, the site offers several unique features.
To best experience RiverPark, one should start at the RiverPark Arch at Peyton and North River Lane. Embedded in one of the limestone piers of the arch is a plaque that briefly tells the story of RiverPark.
"Building Community While Building a Park"
The plaque text traces the Park's origins to 1996 when a local developer proposed building condominiums on the site. Prior to that, it had been an area filled with garbage and the remains of factories, the last demolished in 1981. (See HISTORY for more information.) It also sets forth some of the goals of the RiverPark committee in building the park. These goals included:
The goals were achieved in the actual building of the park and also in the specific design features of the park.
The following "FEATURES" showcase the result:from all directions. Pedestrians and bikers on the upper pathway must pass underneath the arch to continue on their journey. The eyes of viewers from the east are drawn to the arch as a high point of the site. From the west, on Peyton Street, the RiverPark Arch provides a dramatic entrance point to the park.
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Arbors - Extending to the north and south from the RiverPark Arch is a series of Arbors set on limestone pillars. In the spring and summer, the arbors are covered by the foliage and blooms of glorious flowering honeysuckle.
Dragonfly Art Railing - Designed by Geneva artist Jim Jenkins, the railing reflects the flow and ripples of the Fox River and the circuitous flight of the dragonfly. The dragonflies were hand-forged by Jim Jenkins.
Swedish Days Breakfasts at the Methodist Church, Festival of the Vine, etc. Located by the Dragonfly Art Railing, there are 347 mosaic tile art pavers in the park, each unique to the maker.
Native Trees, Shrubs, and Plants - Over 5,600 native trees, shrubs, and plants were planted in the park by RiverPark volunteers. Over 5,000 of these plants were started from seed and nursed in homes and the Geneva Park District Greenhouse until they were ready for planting. The goal was to heal and strengthen the landscape and ecosystem by planting those plants that are historic to the area and would thrive here.
The Hazelnut shrubs along the railing are popular in the fall with people and squirrels. Ironwoods or Hop Hornbeam trees line North River Lane. Within the park, Bur Oaks dominate with a few Chinquapin Oaks and a Muscle Wood tree. The trees are those that historically could survive the fires of the prairie. The deep roots of the dry and wetland prairie plants anchor the soil, helping prevent erosion and flooding.
Each fall, a seed collecting day is held in the park to gather seed for the following year. In the spring, the seed is scattered throughout the park, ensuring the continued strength of the prairie.
Amphitheater - Surrounded by limestone outcroppings, native plants, and overlooking the Fox River, the stone amphitheater is a focal point of the park. The amphitheater features seating for up to 135 people that is a combination of limestone tiers and grassy lawn. It is perfect for simply enjoying the day or having a leisurely picnic while listening to one of several summer performances (see EVENTS).
Designed by Susan Conant, the amphitheater was built by Nelson Midwest in 2005.
History Wall - Surrounded by native prairie plants, the stone terraces that begin at the south end of the amphitheater display artifacts from different eras of history. The artifacts shown are representative of ones that might have been found at the RiverPark site. The eras represented range from the site's prehistoric days of Ancient Sea and Glacial Drift; The First People and Geneva Settlers; Industry, and finally modern day Stewardship. It is a treasure waiting to be seen.
The History Wall was built by Dennis Kintop and MIC Construciton in 2003. The History Wall artifacts were collected by Mary Jaeger and Sharon Jones and installed by Dennis Kintop and Jim Jenkins in the winter of 2004.
Turtle Boulder - Geneva artist Jim Jenkins carved this boulder with the polished head and arms of a turtle extending out in pink along with a spiral, suggestive of Fibonacci's sequence as reflected throughout nature (such as the pattern of sunflower seeds). The turtle often factors into Native American creation stories.
Solstice and Equinox Rocks - From the polished seat on the Turtle Boulder, one can sit and celebrate each season's sunrises marked by stones labeled Summer and Winter Solstice, Fall and Spring Equinox.
(1) Some of the copies are those taken from a collection by Merritt King of Geneva and Norm Salamone of Batavia.
(2) p.19, Geneva, Illinois, A History of Its Times and Places.
'Building community while building a park.'