History Plaza nears completion

Lansing, Illinois, celebrates past with an eye toward the future

History Plaza
Lansing’s new History Plaza is an attractive use of a visible corner. Lansing hopes that improving the entry into the Ridge Road business district will attract new businesses and shoppers. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (September 2017) – While the construction and plantings at the southwest corner of Ridge Road and Burnham Avenue are visually appealing, Lansing’s new History Plaza also serves a forward-thinking purpose—by improving the entry into the Ridge Road business district, Lansing hopes to attract new businesses and shoppers. The project also includes a “greatly needed” parking lot expansion for the Village Municipal Center and for downtown businesses within walking distance.

The $363,005 project is being 100% funded by the Ridge Road TIF, which will expire in December 2023. According to illinois-tif.com, “TIF funds may be used for costs associated with the development or redevelopment of property within the TIF, allowing blighted, declining and underperforming areas to again become viable….”

History Plaza
An artist’s depiction shows the Brickyard-themed panel. Other panels will showcase Agriculture, Aviation, and the Ridge.
During the planning stages, the architects consulted the Lansing Historical Society to gather information on early Lansing heritage, transportation, and industry. Their input led to the five historical themes that the History Plaza will bring to life: Agriculture, Brickyards, Aviation, the Ridge, and Three Municipalities Become One. These themes will be depicted in a series of artistic panels. The panels will all be cut out of aluminum, in the style of scherenschnitte, a German paper-cutting technique. The style pays tribute to Lansing’s German heritage.

History Plaza
Lansing was originally three neighborhoods—Bernice, Oak Glen, and Lansing. The three merged in 1893, and this central structure pays tribute to that union. The empty pillars in this September 28 photo will support sculptures that depict three children with toy airplanes—a nod to our aviation history. Mayor Eidam says, “The combination of the innocence and curiosity of youth along with the proud tradition and history of our Village is the perfect blend for a symbolic project like this.” Four artistic panels, each depicting a historical theme, will surround the planter. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Materials, plants, and design throughout the plaza have been carefully chosen to represent specific Lansing themes. For example, sand-colored pavers form the main pathways and represent the sandy ridge—now known as Ridge Road—that was created by receding Lake Michigan. The bricks ringing the central planter pay tribute to the brickyards that dominated our early economy. Native plants have been installed in the landscaping, including Bluestem Prairie Grass (our state grass) and White Oak (our state tree).

Final plantings around the Lansing History Plaza are scheduled to be installed in spring of 2018.

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1 thought on “History Plaza nears completion”

  1. Lovely!!! Thanks for explaining it for us!!! I’ll now take a closer look at this beautiful spot!!!

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