The Peace Garden was originally named the Rock Garden for its light-colored and irregularly-shaped ancient rocks that create a perfect micro-climate for alpine plants and dwarf conifers.
The garden features The Spirit of Peace, a bronze sculpture by local artist Caprice Glaser, dedicated in 2006.The sculpture portrays the ancient craft of origami and illustrates the folding of a peace crane. The walking path around the sculpture has origami paper and information plaques on peace stones that depict the steps in making a peace crane enabling visitors to create their own. Words of peace in 23 languages are engraved on stones at the base. The sculpture represents the international tradition honoring Sadako Saski, a girl who developed cancer as a result of radiation released by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Told of a Japanese legend that people who fold a thousand paper cranes will be granted a wish, she folded over one thousand cranes before her death at age 12.
Another focal point in the park is the Peace Garden Bridge installed in October 2009. It is highlighted by decorative copper sasi blocks and inlaid Minnesota granite. The bridge is of zigzag construction as Japanese tradition says that evil spirits walk only in straight lines so the zigzag bridge prevents them from following people into their garden retreats. The bridge also features granite peace stones from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, found near Ground Zero in the rubble of the 1945 atomic bomb blast. The new bridge replaces a cedar footbridge built in 1985 and removed in 2007 due to decay. The bridge was designed by McKnight Distinguished Artist of the Year Kinji Akagawa and Jerry Allan, Professor and Architect of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Other garden features are:
• A peace pole designating the garden as an official International Peace Site that lists the word ‘peace’ in multiple languages;
• Pathway to Peace, a series of seven stone sculptures connecting the East Harriet neighborhood with the Peace Garden, each with words representing the community’s feelings about the meaning of peace;
• Relic stones from Hiroshima and Nagasaki;
• A Hibakuska tree, which is the term used to refer to victims of the bombings.
Historical Profile: More information about this and other parks is included in Parks, Lakes, Trails and So Much More, a richly detailed account of the histories of Minneapolis’ renown recreational system.
(See Lyndale Park section.)