Donated in 1849 by Henry Rice as a "public square," this 1.6-acre park has been the center of downtown activities ever since. The trapezoidal space contains a circular fountain at its northern end, centered on an eight-foot bronze figurative statue by Wisconsin sculptor Alonzo Hauser (dedicated in 1965). An open plaza surrounds the fountain with seating for concerts and events. Linden allées provide shade, and urns planted with annuals are located throughout. Two sidewalks cross the park diagonally to connect to major streets and destinations bordering the park, all built long after the park was created.
Over the years the design has changed often. An ornamental fountain was erected in 1872, and electric lights were introduced before an 1883 visit by President Chester A. Arthur. In 1898, City Park Superintendent Frederick Nussbaumer led a complete park remodel, coinciding with completion of the Federal Courts Building, now called Landmark Center. A substantial Ice Palace was built on the park in 1917 for the Saint Paul Winter Carnival. The newly formed Saint Paul Garden Club planted flowering plants in ornamental beds, which has remained an ongoing tradition. In 1965, the park was redesigned in a more modernist style by HGA, that is still evidenced today with the asymmetrical plaza and fountain.
More recently in 2019, park revitalization efforts included plaza rehabilitation, a new east-west pathway and new garden areas. The St. Paul Parks & Recreation Department oversaw the improvements with SRF Consulting as the project manager. The park is part of the proposed local Rice Park Historic District.