"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"

In 1996, condo buildings were planned for the RiverPark of Geneva site.  A group of concerned citizens advocated for land use that honored the ecological, historical, and social roles the river held for the community.  The city leaders listened and the land was preserved.

In 1999, a group of volunteers gathered together to transform this former industrial site into a park for public use.  Connecting people wtih nature ecosystems, building community, increasing historic awareness, and providing an intimate performance space were goals of the RiverPark.

The response was terrific!  Individuals participated in over 105 work days, logged over 12,000 hours and raised over $750,000 in donations, grants, in-kind services.  The RiverPark of Geneva is indeed a testament to the spirit of community.

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:

  • Building community
  • Increasing environmental awareness in the community
  • Increasing recreational opportunities in a passive environment
  • Increasing historical awareness of the site
  • Healing the landscape
  • Increasing bio-diversity

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:

RiverPark Arch - The RiverPark Arch is a visual focal point of the park 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.

The RiverPark Arch and Arbors were designed by St. Charles architect Michael Mackey. In the spring of 2002, the stone pillars were built by Steve Patzer of St. Charles. The arch was constructed as an Eagle Scout project in 2002. The arbors were constructed by RiverPark volunteers in the summer of 2002. All of the  construction was supervised by RiverPark Board Member Dennis Kintop of MIC Construction. Two plaques give credit to contributors, both private and public, along with the RiverPark Board Members and the primary designers and artists.

Paver Bike and Pedestrian Path - The paver bicycle and pedestrian path runs along the west edge of the site. It connects the bike paths of the City of Geneva and the Kane County Forest Preserve. The path was laid in 2002 and 2003 by volunteer work groups.

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.

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Mosaic Tile Art Pavers - Made by hand using cement forms, families created these individual tiles at different community events: picnics, 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.

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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 SettlersIndustry, and finally modern day Stewardship. It is a treasure waiting to be seen.

  • Ancient Sea - Three straight cephalopod fossils located in the top layer of stones above the engraved sign, are representative of the Ordovician Period, 440-500 million years ago.
  • Glacial Drift - Granite boulders like these were deposited here from the Canadian Shield when the glaciers melted and retreated north in the Pleistocene Period, 1 million years ago.

  • First People - The Pottawatomi, the people of the place of fire, often used the area around RiverPark as one of their summer campsites. In the lower terrace, within the cement block, are chert, stone hammerhead and projectile points copied from originals of the Native Americans, 600 B.C. - 1837 A.D. (1)
  • Geneva Settlers - White settlers first entered the area in the 1830's.  An iron fireplace arm and Dutch oven pot in the upper terrace and haying scythe and grain seeding wheels in the lower terrace were used by early farmers. Seventeen year old Harriet Warren Dodson records her first visit to Geneva aboard her brother-in-law's wagon in 1836. "They rode in a lumber wagon through the dark and deep woods to the river. (The east bank of the Fox River in Aurora) 'Bird plunged the wagon abruptly into the water', a fright that Harriet recalled fifty-four years later: 'our hearts were in our throats until we were safely across. The first object to meet our view was the large wigwam of he Indian Chief 'Wabaunse' (which was) remarkable for its neatness...We came up as far as where Geneva now stands on the west bank of the river and were charmed with the lovely landscape all the way.'" (2)
  • Industry - Since 1844, with the construction of the first dam and millrace, the site has been home to numerous factories and industrial uses. Some of the plants and factories located here included the six-story Pope Glucose Co., the Crystal Ice Plant, and the Horn Steel Company. In the upper terrace, a cement block holds an ice saw and ice pick. Nearby is another block displaying a Howell factory sad iron and assembly line pulley. Below rests a large millstone-and-a-half discovered along the old rail line in Wheeler Park. These and all the other artifacts:  the twisted steel beam, railroad track, single concrete pier, the metal water pipe and cover, are remnants from the industrial days along the river.
  • Stewardship - Stewardship reflects the efforts of modern day citizens to care for, and be good stewards of, the earth and all its ecosystems. In 1835, the shoreline would have sloped gradually, revealing sections of out-cropping and small springs, resplendent with tall prairie, wetland plants, and gravel-loving perennials. Three plants grace this last section and reflect the vision of the RiverPark Board to be stewards of the land. These are Prairie Smoke abloom in the spring, Hairy Wild Petunia throughout the summer, and Purple Love Grass in early fall.

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.

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Story Rock - The large granite boulder left from the old days, is popular for story telling or for young families and individual to sit quietly and enjoy the flow of the river.

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.


The world was covered with water. The lowly Muskrat, Snapping Turtle and Otter dove down to bring up the first gobs of Earth. From this island of mud, often gathered on the turtle's back, the Earth grew.

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.

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Subpages (1): Features Maps