In 1899, South Bend said hello to its first park. 120 years later, that same park got a new welcoming. On Black Friday 2019, Howard Park was welcomed back into the city with a fresh new design. 

In the early 1800s, the land on which Howard Park now sits on was no more than a swamp. Due to its close proximity to the Saint Joseph River, it was originally a trading post used by the local native American tribes, such as the Potawatomi Tribe. But it slowly became a downfall. When the rain would get heavy, and the Saint Joseph River would flood, the land would become a sponge, soaking up as much of the floodwater as it could. 

Over time, the ground became the place in town to put your refuse. As this became a popular thing, people began to think that it would be a great breeding ground for malarial insects. Since this was a safety hazard, it was decided that it would become the city’s first park. 

When it came time to naming the park, they decided to name it after Judge Timothy Howard, an important figure in local politics. Timothy Howard was a city council member, state senator, chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court. He was also an important person in the state and local politics. 

Before the area officially became a park, the locals would skate on the frozen water during the winter, which is the inspiration behind having an official ice rink in the park. 

Although the park may be old, the memories people make there are brand new. 

By Kevin McNulty

Kevin McNulty teaches English and Mass Media Studies at Penn High School. He advises the Penn News Network and manages the PNN Studio and news room. For more information, navigate your browser to