Bayliss Park: Council Bluffs, Iowa


As the first park of Council Bluffs created in 1853, Bayliss Park continues to serve as the geographical and symbolic "town square" of the community. Located in the heart of downtown, its features include a plaza, fountain, performance pavilion, children's water splash pad, playful bronze black squirrel statues, monuments, and markers. The park's four corner entrances connect visitors with the surrounding commercial and residential areas of downtown.

Designated Area

Bounded by 1st Avenue, Pearl Street, Willow Avenue, and 6th Street.

Aerial view of the park. Photo courtesy Iowa West Foundation.

Planning Excellence

The land for the park was donated by Samuel Bayliss, an early Kanesville businessman, entrepreneur, and city council member. Shortly thereafter, the city began to plant trees and erect large wooden fences around the plot. The fountain, also the focal point of the park, was originally built in 1890, then replaced in 1971 and again in 2006. Various monuments and memorials were constructed between 1920 and 2003 to honor local veterans.

Under the direction of Mayor Thomas P. Hanafan and various city departments, a new vision of Bayliss Park was created with public input in 2004. A citizen steering committee raised funds for the creation of a master plan. The city raised nearly $750,000 with the help of over 1,500 community members for the park's rehabilitation and renovation.

View of 'Wellspring' and 'Oculus' after dark. Photo by Sarah Williams.

Defining Characteristics, Features


  • Land donated by Samuel Bayliss was used to create Council Bluffs's first park (1853)
  • The first fountain was constructed by two businessmen, W.A. Maurer and Andrew Graham; nicknamed "Old Rusty" after years of use (1890)
  • "Old Rusty" was retired and relocated, and a new fountain was built with a 30-foot water stream, colorful lights, and dancing waters (1971)
  • The park contains numerous veteran memorials; Vietnam Memorial on the east side was spearheaded by Rose and Sammy Grego after losing their son in the war (1984)
  • The Veterans' Plaza was later constructed as part of the Vietnam Memorial, with a memorial wall listing every Pottawattamie County veteran from the Civil War to the Persian Gulf War and the War on Terrorism (2003)
  • Browner Hatcher, a nationally renowned sculptor, designed the third and current 31-foot fountain, "Wellspring," with the community's input; features a sculpture, an upper and lower pool, and columns with illumination choreographed to the fountain's sounds (2006)

Amenities and Events

  • Performance pavilion is accentuated with sculptor Browner Hatcher's dome called "Oculus" on the west side of the plaza; hosts many community events annually
  • A children's water splash pad is located on the north side of the plaza; features family of black squirrel sculptures also created by Browner Hatcher
  • The park has four formal entrances emphasized with stone walls, and two-sided flower beds that connect the park to the surrounding commercial and residential areas of downtown and to bike trails which extend 40 miles throughout the community
  • The town square is the preferred site for many arts events, outdoor concert series, outdoor movies each summer, dozens of weddings, and major annual community events such as "Celebrate CB" and the "Winterfest" lighting display

Park in winter during Winterfest lighting. Photo by Sarah Williams.