Above / No matter what the season, the Naperville Riverwalk welcomes all ages to discover a natural treasure along the West Branch of the DuPage River, just steps from shopping and dining in downtown Naperville.
Happy 40th Birthday to the Riverwalk!
The Naperville Riverwalk turns 40 on Labor Day 2021, and the Riverwalk Foundation in partnership with the Riverwalk Commission and Downtown Naperville Alliance will host a brief “rededication” to celebrate. The monumental event is set for 2PM, Mon., Sept. 6, aiming to be a simple tribute to the “can-do” spirit that created the Riverwalk for the City’s sesquicentennial in 1981 in the heart of downtown.
This post is the second of four posts.
Scroll down to find Riverwalk Reflections 11-20, Aug. 8 through Aug. 17
Riverwalk Reflection #11 / The Riverwalk 2000 fundraiser that extended the brick path from Washington to Hillside led to the establishment of the Riverwalk Foundation in 1997. Also in 1997, talk became more public to “gift” the Fredenhagen property (Naperville Creamery/ Prince Castle/Cock Robin Ice Cream Store) for use as a gateway park setting along the Riverwalk near the Washington Street Bridge. The gateway would lead to downtown Naperville and North Central College.
When plans were ready to go with architect’s renderings for Fredenhagen Park, volunteers Ed Channell and John Schmitt stepped up to serve as fundraising chairmen for another Riverwalk amenity.
“One of my proudest moments came when Rita asked me to chair the fundraiser for Fredenhagen Park. I received a call from her one day inviting me out for breakfast… When we met at the Colonial Café, she was especially cheerful and glowing. Her enthusiasm for life was simply infectious,” wrote Channell back in 2012.
“As she laid out her plan for the fundraiser I raised my hand and said, “Rita, I’m still tired from the Riverwalk 2000 fundraiser. Every time I walk down the street and see a friend approaching they clutch their wallet and change to the other side.”
Rita Fredenhagen Harvard and Ted Fredenhagen are pictured under the signature landmark sign as plans were put in place to develop Fredenhagen Park, named to honor their parents, Grace and Walter Fredenhagen.
Determined to be good stewards of all donations for commemorative bricks and stones as well as park benches, native trees, etc., since 1997 the Riverwalk Foundation has accepted private dollars for enhancement projects in collaboration with the Riverwalk Commission, the Naperville Park District and the City of Naperville.
Anybody remember Prince Castle ice cream before Cock Robin?
Mary Robinson Klingbeil wrote, “The first girl on the left is my Mother-in-law (Virginia Seitz Klingbeil).”
Fredenhagen Park is now located where the Naperville Creamery and Prince Castle (later Cock Robin) used to sell ice cream. Before Fredenhagen Park, the Naperville Creamery was among businesses that occupied the property.
Thanks to all friends of the Riverwalk! Thanks for the memories!
Riverwalk Reflection #12 / To help commemorate the turn of the millennium during an event known as “Celebrate 2000,” a stone labyrinth was planned for the floor of the Riverwalk Amphitheater. One of PN’s favorite photos at the labyrinth features North Central College students supporting and trusting each other in August 2018.
The Riverwalk Amphitheater was enhanced for the turn of the millennium in 2000. Visit the wall to see names of individuals, subdivisions, businesses and other donors that supported Celebration 2000. The large plaque helps tell the story, too.
The labyrinth design was created by using two colors of custom-cut stone to replicate the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France, the world’s most famous medieval labyrinth.
FYI: Anyone who takes the meditative path in the Riverwalk Amphitheater will have walked the length of a football field or 360 feet.
During the 2020 September 11 Observance, the Naperville Municipal Band performed in the Riverwalk Amphitheater while the annual remembrance was held across the DuPage River at the Commander Dan Shanower September 11 Memorial along the Riverwalk.
(For 2021, the September 11 Observance is planned to begin with music by the City band at 8:15AM, followed by a program at 8:46AM. Note that’s morning.)
Other times, wedding ceremonies and children’s programs hosted by the Nichols Library are among activities that happen in the Riverwalk Amphitheater, just east of Eagle Street along Jackson Avenue.
Riverwalk Reflection #13 / In 2016, the location of the “Tribute” to Cliff Preston was recommended by Chuck Papanos, North Parks & Riverwalk Operations Manager, who had recognized Preston’s passions and favorite spots along the brick path during the 16 years he’d known him. For more than 20 years, Preston had assumed responsibility to keep the antique farmer’s plow atop the Farmers Monument varnished and painted. Plus, Preston loved fishing!
Commemorative bricks help tell the story of Cliff Preston’s commitment to volunteerism and can-do spirit.
The Navy Seabee served in World War II, then came to Naperville and joined the Naperville Jaycees in the mid-1950s. Later he joined the Evening Kiwanis. He also built the display shelves at the VFW. For many years, Preston was recognized for his service in the annual Naperville Memorial Day Parade, always riding in a red vintage Corvette driven by Tom Priz.
The garden created as a Tribute to Cliff Preston was designed by Monica Goshorn-Maroney of Gary R. Weber Associates, Inc. via approval by the 13-member Riverwalk Commission. The special garden was funded with private donations by the Riverwalk Foundation in recognition of Preston’s active community service in Naperville for 35 years, 16 years of which were dedicated to the Riverwalk Commission.
In fact, Preston served as Chairman of the Riverwalk Commission for a decade, the period when the path was extended to Hillside Road, then to Jefferson Avenue.
Riverwalk Reflection #14 / No matter the time of day or the season, the Farmer’s Plaza at Eagle Street with Moser Tower in the distance is a place to pause & reflect about this city’s past, present and future.
The Earl Meisinger Family donated the antique John Deere Highlander Plow (1897) atop the Farmer’s Monument in the Farmer’s Plaza, located near the Eagle Street Bridge. (PN File Photo 2012)
In 1988, the Farmer’s Plaza was donated by the farm families of the Naperville Area. Ever since, in all kinds of weather, the plow has stood for the city’s proud rural heritage.
Throughout the city, many farm families also are recognized as names of streets—Meisinger, Diehl and Darfler, to name a few.
At night, Moser Tower in the distance is illuminated throughout the year to reflect special events and holidays.
When plans were developed to extend the Riverwalk west of Eagle Street, Naperville resident Gene Darfler recalls assisting early Riverwalk devotees Jim Moser, Harold Moser and Ken Koranda by connecting with the farming community to create the monument, a tribute to the community’s rural heritage.
Patti Weissinger wrote, “Modaffs & Meisingers are my family names on there.”
Riverwalk Reflection #13 / Cliff Preston is recognized for his long-standing commitment to the Riverwalk Commission at a “Tribute” garden located near the Farmer’s Plaza by the fishing pier.
Riverwalk Reflection #15 / Naperville civic leader Alfred Rubin was among the speakers at the Harold & Eva White Plaza during the Naperville Riverwalk dedication on Labor Day 1981.
Later as Naperville Park District and Riverwalk Commissioner in the mid-1990s, Rubin came up with “Riverwalk Renaissance,” a public presentation event to create interest for the extension of the Riverwalk from the Washington Street Bridge to the Hillside Avenue Bridge.
Also note that the Alfred Rubin Riverwalk Community Center, located at 305 W. Jackson Ave., is named to honor the active community leader with such a big heart for downtown Naperville.
Alfred Rubin served on the board of the Naperville School District 78 from 1964 to 1969 before the public school systems were consolidated as Unit School District 203 in 1972.
Rubin also served on the Naperville City Council from 1971 to 1977 as well as on the Naperville Park Board from 1987 to March 1997.
The Alfred Rubin Riverwalk Community Center is located on Jackson Avenue at the corner of Eagle Street, across from the red Landforms sculpture and the Riverwalk.
Soon after, the Riverwalk Renaissance meeting in 1996, the Riverwalk 2000 Campaign was organized under the co-leadership of Ed Channell and Glen Ekey to raise funds to extend the winding brick path from Washington Street to Hillside Road.
The extension included features such as the Jaycees Gazebo and the Moser Covered Bridge. Ever since 2000, the Naperville Park District has kept the extended path cleared after a snowfall!
Riverwalk Reflection #16 / Begun in 1997, the “Buy a Brick” campaign to help fund the path from Washington to Hillside, known as the “Riverwalk 2000 Campaign,” welcomed everybody to support the initiative with commemorative brick sales. Today it’s fun to walk the extension and read the messages with appreciation for all friends of the Riverwalk.
Riverwalk Reflection #17 / Day is done at the Riverwalk Dandelion Fountain. Enjoy the memories!
Riverwalk Reflection #18 / Check out the Century Walk sculpture titled “Riverwalk Visionaries,” a work of art that depicts art, creating a permanent tribute to people, places and events of this city.
The plans in Jim Moser’s hand designate that the renderings are by architect Charles Vincent George. Note that Mayor Rybicki’s tie is emblazoned with the City of Naperville logo.
Many ideas were considered to commemorate Naperville’s 150th birthday in 1981. Yet, plans for a brick path along the DuPage River attracted the most volunteers and private donors. Today, the Riverwalk continues to be the City’s pride and joy. And the Century Walk sculpture, “Riverwalk Visionaries,” helps tell the story, even when the DuPage River floods over its banks.
And the sign says “Do not feed geese, ducks and other waterfowl.” That sign means let all wildlife be wild without harming the animals by feeding them human snacks.
During the late 1970s, Naperville visionaries with can-do spirit looked forward with ideas to commemorate Naperville’s 150th birthday in 1981. All considered, restoration of the banks of the DuPage River in the heart of Naperville’s central business district rose to the top. Since 2006, no matter what season, a Century Walk sculpture has stood to help tell the story.
“Riverwalk Visionaries,” depicting businessman Jim Moser with Mayor Chet Rybicki, is one of 51 Century Walk locations where stories of Naperville’s history are featured in public art, creating a permanent tribute to people, places and events of this active city.
Riverwalk Reflection #19 / A large rock west of Eagle Street where the Riverwalk winds around toward the Paddleboat Quarry rentals recognizes the Centennial Park Dedication on June 6, 1931. Note local history by observing commemorative messages step by step along the winding path that help tell the story of what’s been celebrated in Naperville and remembered along the DuPage River for nearly 190 years.
Riverwalk Reflection #20 / This post almost marks half-way of 40 Riverwalk facts shared in advance of Labor Day when the Riverwalk begins its 40th year. Thanks to crews from the Naperville Park District for recent efforts to remove invasive growth and restore groundcover along the riverbanks beginning at Eagle Street.
Three staircases within short distances are available along the Riverwalk to take folks down to the low-flow walk along the DuPage River, just west of the Eagle Street Bridge.
Help restore the riverbanks with groundcover. Avoid cut-throughs that create paths in the landscape. Use staircases that lead to the low-flow walkways. Help prevent unsightly and unsafe paths. Thanks!
(Somebody suggested putting up signs. We’d like to keep the landscape free of unsightly signs.)
Find a staircase right at the Eagle Street Bridge and two others spaced before the Paddle Boat Rental House. All three lead to the low-flow walk. Help keep the Riverwalk beautiful with clear sights and soft sounds of the DuPage River.
Use one of three staircases beginning on the south side of the Eagle Street Bridge whenever traipsing down to the low-flow walk. Find this one on the way to the Paddle Boat Rental House. Keep off the groundcover. Help keep the Riverwalk beautiful with clear sights and soft sounds of the DuPage River.
Walk this way to the low-flow walks.
Note… All ages are known to fish across the rushing DuPage River from this staircase…
Click here to return to the first 10 Riverwalk Reflections.
Click here to advance to Riverwalk Reflections, 21 through 40.
Click here to advance to Riverwalk Reflections, 31 through 40.
Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer! Certainly these Riverwalk Reflections are not all-inclusive. Any important omissions are regretted. These 40 so-called snippets and factoids are focused mostly on Phases 1-3 from Main Street to Rotary Hill. The Riverwalk Commission currently has a Master Plan for 2031. Read all about it on the City of Naperville website. Thank you.