A garden for city and world. Kronvalds' Park
The way it is now, Kronvalds' Park was created as a part of canal green area after Old Riga wall was taken down. City canal divides it into two separate parts, besides, the canal served its basic funcions in the beginning of 20th century by bringing several goods, building materials or even the wood on large-scale boats.
The park was started in 1862 when Riga German riflemen group received a gift, 13 hectare land piece, from The Russian Empire on the right side of the canal. It soon became Riflemen Garden which was improved after twenty years, some greenery were planned, also foreign trees and 2000 rose bushes were planted leaving a wide territory at the canal banks for some economic operations.
The park was closed until 1927 and was only available for the special events.
Members of the Riflemen group worked there on a daily basis. Riflemen group house was built in the park also setting a shooting ditch and vegetable garden.
Especially Riga and parks were improved in 1900ies when the 700th anniversary of Riga was celebrated in 1901. Riga parks were decorated with new ornamental plants when park gardens were supervised by Georg Kuphaldt. Also a unique air bridge was built for the summer celebration that connected Esplanade and Riflemen Garden (the current crossing between Krišjānis Valdemārs Street and O.Kalpaks Avenue), but in Riflemen Garden not far from the canal, a project called „Old Riga” was held, it was a miniature model of 17th century Riga created on the basis of drawings and city plans. City walls and towers that were taken down that time were included in the model as well as Melngalvju nams (The Blackheads' House), The Town Hall and narow streets of the medieval city. „Old Riga” board walls were three metres high with an imitated brick and stone wall paintings and decorated with art pieces, metal carvings and flowers.
Mayor of that time, the great George Armistead, organized fancy garden parties at Riflemen Garden dedicated to Riga 700th anniversary.
2000 invited guests came to park on 23 August, 1901, they were prominent Riga residents and guests. „Rigaer Tageblatt” then reported that gentlemen were wearing uniforms or tailcoats, but many ladies were in long evening dresses.
Everyone was invited to drink tea soon after they came, then a beer and punch were served, but then a rich buffet followed. Guests were entertained by Garde Marine Crew Orchestra.
Only one witness is left at the park from that time, it's a pavilion built by the famous builder Krišjānis Ķergalvis. The pavilion is located not far from Riga Congress Centre.
Also a building at the canal south bank was finished in 1901, it's current Biology Faculty of University of Latvia. It was formerly planned as Nature Sciences Institute Building of Riga Polytechnic Institute. It has always been a place for knowledge and laboratory experiments.
Riflemen Garden was expropriated in 1930ies because of the upcoming changes, land and buildings purchases and sales and was a property of The Ministry of War in Latvia. Park was renovated and improved when finally, it was open to visitors. Riflemen Garden was renamed 15th May Garden for a short time. It was a dedication to Kārlis Ulmanis overturn on 15 May, 1934.
In 1937, the park was named after the publicist, linguist and member of "Young Latvians" movement Atis Kronvalds.
The park got its own Milk Restaurant of Latvia Milk Producers Central Union during the 1930ies. Back then, a restaurant was a "must-be" building in every park. Later in Soviet times, Milk Restaurant was built again, in a beautiful place next to the canal, later it got its name "Ainava" ("The View"). Nowadays, Riga Free Port is located in there. Riflemen House got the name Officer's House during the 1920ies. This place reminds Riga bohemian lifestyle of that time when the legendary and famous press ball were organized in there.
1970ies was a transformation time for Kronvalds' Park when The Central Commitee House of Latvia Communist Party was built, currently known as World Trade Centre. Officer' s House was taken down, but The Political Education House, a serious architecture example of that time, was built instead, nowadays it's recognized as Riga Congress Centre. It's important to note that the foundation congress of The Popular Front of Latvia in October, 1988, was organized in there together with Interfront in January, 1989. Now it is planned to renovate the building in order to fit the needs of a modern concert hall.
Also "Rīga 2014" office and the editorial room of "Rīga 2014" culture portal is located in Riga Congress Centre.
Modern times has left its marks in Kronvalds' Park. Underground parking lot was built in 2000 under the park and multi-stage fountain was created, but in 2001, "China Pavilion" received from China was set up opposite the Riga Port Building, on the canal south bank.
Another newcomer is the monument to Mirzo Ulugbeck, the Persian astronomer and mathematician, that was set in 2004. It is located next to Latvian Maritime Academy. The second one is the monument to Alexandr Pushkin, the poet, set next to the canal pedestrian bridge in 2009.
If we keep counting monuments, also the splendid image of the writer Andrejs Upītis is worth to notice, set next to Riga Congress Centre where skateboardists like to spend their free time. Memorial places for the writer Sudrabu Edžus and the artist Ernests Brasliņš as well as the first Latvian theatre show are to be found in this park.
Most likely, you won't spend your days counting monuments. So, it's worth to know that today, the former Riflemen Garden is a nice green place where you can take a rest from the daily routine and do everything you like on weekends: have some free time, sit in a cafe, play with children or just give some bread to the canal inhabitants-ducks.