Welcome to Straight Tongue Town Square in Faribault
Our bi-monthly visit with a Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism representative today included discussion about the possible development of a town square. Chamber Chief Executive/Community Marketing Director Nort Johnson stopped by KDHL for AM Minnesota. I told Nort I was in Rapid City, South Dakota a couple weekends previous and really enjoyed the sites. I attended a car show downtown and loved their town square. Nort moved to Faribault a couple years ago from Rapid City.
I've had the good fortune to do some international traveling and many European cities have very large town squares. Berlin, Germany and Florence, Italy come to mind with very beautiful and spacious urban or market squares. Central Park in Faribault is beautiful and the use of the area is great, but wouldn't it be fantastic to have a large public open space similar to those in Europe or other cities around the world ? Red Square in Moscow, Russia or the Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
I even have a name for our public square. Straight Tongue Town Square in honor of the name Dakota Indians gave Bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple of Faribault. Bishop Whipple was a friend of the Dakota even during the Dakota War of 1862 and boarded a train to our nation's capital to personally bend the ear of President Abraham Lincoln to request sparing the lives of the majority of 303 Dakota Indians convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death. Lincoln initially ordered 39 to be executed but spared another man due to newly discovered evidence It remains the largest mass execution in American history.
Whipple was the first Episcopal Bishop of Minnesota and often spoke of the hypocrisy of federal Indian policies. He told the President some examples of, "the causes which have brought this bloodshed." Lincoln was impressed saying, "He came here the other day and talked with me about the rascality of this Indian business, until I felt it down to my boots."
Johnson shared with our listeners that shortly after he arrived in Faribault, City Council Member Jana Viscomi approached him with a drawing of an idea she had for a park in the area of the viaduct. He also said recent conversation with the owners of the soon to open Crooked Pint Ale House (formerly Boston's) turned to developing the open area because of the river and beautiful bluff to the east.
Johnson pointed out the bike trail runs under the viaduct and it would be an ideal place for a town square. Town squares are usually a hard surface that can be used for many public gatherings. Having a park with green space next to such an area would be ideal in my mind. I know Teepee Tonka Park is on the other side of the river and railroad tracks.
I took a picture facing south from behind the future Crooked Pint Ale House to give you some idea of just how spacious this area is. Go down there and take a look.
The possibilities are truly endless and obviously there would be some cost involved. In Rapid City they are able to use a portion of the area for a ice skating rink. Wouldn't that be awesome with the historic Faribault Viaduct overseeing the area ?
The Faribault Viaduct is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) constructed the bridge, finishing it in 1937. The concrete bridge became recognized by the National Register in 1989.